About Il Fornaio - Palo Alto

520 Cowper Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301
View Larger Map

Il Fornaio means "The Baker" in Italian. This award-winning restaurant offers an authentic and unique dining experience. Specialties include wood-fired rotisserie and grilled meats, poultry and game; housemade pastas; pizzas from an oak wood burning oven; fresh salads and housemade soups; a wide variety of desserts; and fresh baked bread made daily from scratch. Winner of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2007.

Dining Style:
Casual Dining

Cuisines:
Italian

Hours of Operation:
Breakfast: Monday - Friday: 7:00am - 10:30am, Saturday - Sunday: 8:00am - 11:00am; Lunch: Sunday - Saturday: 11:30am - 5:00pm; Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 10;00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 11:00pm

Cross Street:
Hamilton

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$30 and under

Payment Options
AMEX, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(650) 853-3888

Website:
http://ilfornaio.com/

Catering:
Off-site catering available. Please contact Event Coordinator for more details.

Parking Details:
Valet parking is available for $10. In addition, there is also the hotel parking lot, as well as a public lot available.

Public Transit:
Cal Train

Executive Chef:
Michele Godina

Additional:
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Cafe, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Private Room, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Restaurant Photos

Cappuccino
Uova Del Fornaio Con Bruschetta
French Toast
Eggs Benedict
Vegetable Soup
Insalata De Tonno
Baba al Rhum
Almond croissant
carpaccio
Minestrone
Caprese
Bread
22Oz Porterhouse Steak
Dessert Platter
Cinnamon Twist
Beef Carpaccio
Crespelle Alla Crema Acida
Mocha
Tosto Francese
pancakes
Zabaglione
Sea bass
Arugula, Shrimp & Avocado Salad
Shrimp Risotto
Cannela
Maccaroni Al Formaggio
Bellini
Pan Roasted Petrale Sole
Ravioli Di Magro Ai Carciofi
Mussels
Italian Renaissance
Risotto Salciccia
Tiramisu
NY Steak
Lava Cake
Bruschetta
Salmon Pasta With Cream Sauce
Veggie Omlette
Barilotti Alla Pugliese
French Toast w/ Seasonal Berries
Salmon And Spinach Salad
Rosina Il Chocolata

Private Dining

Celebrating 20 years in downtown Palo Alto, Il Fornaio offers 2 private dining rooms and a heated, covered, garden Piazza. Banquet menus for large parties features the best of Il Fornaio's authentic Italian cuisine and Chef Luigi's signature dishes.

Il Fornaio - Palo Alto Ratings and Reviews

5
4
3
2
1

4.2

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

4.0

service

3.9

ambience

4.1

value

3.7

noise

Moderate

87% would recommend it to a friend

Good for Groups (42)
Great for Lunch (34)
Special Occasion (32)
See All
Great for Outdoor Dining (32)
Great for Brunch (23)
Fit for Foodies (22)
Neighborhood Gem (22)
Kid-friendly (15)
Romantic (12)
Notable Wine List (10)
Quiet Conversation (9)
Wood Oven (8)
Good for Anniversaries (7)
Good for Birthdays (6)
Casual (5)
Business Meals (5)
Comfort Food (4)
Seasonal (4)
Hot Spot (4)
Authentic (4)
Vibrant Bar Scene (4)
Open Kitchen (4)
Good for a Date (4)
Cozy (4)
Creative Cuisine (3)
Tasting Menu (3)
Afternoon Coffee (3)
Good Vegetarian Options (3)
Pre/post Theatre (2)
Healthy (2)
Scenic View (2)
Private Room (1)
Sunday Lunch (1)
Quick Bite (1)
Disabled Access (1)
People Watching (1)
Family Style (1)
Late-night Find (1)
Worth the Drive (1)
Local Ingredients (1)
Outstanding Value (1)
Sort By:
Newest
1604 reviews
Loading Reviews ...

Great service. great food. great time

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined 5 days ago

Great service. great food. great time

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5

Were seated on the back patio as request ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on September 20, 2016

Were seated on the back patio as requested. Eating inside during the summer is not as comfortable. Have had many good meals here but this last visit was given poor service rating. Not sure what the waiter's issue was but he didn't smile and was like a robot going through procedures. Too bad. We'll return but will hopefully get a happier server.

Tags: Casual, Great for Outdoor Dining
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience3
service2
value3

The pasta and salad were wonderful as us ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on September 19, 2016

The pasta and salad were wonderful as usual. Their food is comfort food for us. We always go back when we feel like pasta.

Tags: Neighborhood Gem
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service4
value5

Poor service had to find a waiter to ord ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on September 18, 2016

Poor service had to find a waiter to order.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience3
service1
value3

Truly terrible. Nothing about the exper ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on September 14, 2016

Truly terrible. Nothing about the experience was good. Over 40 minutes to get a simple breakfast. The order was not correct despite going thru things repeatedly with the wait staff. Discussed the poor service with the manager who noted the poor service but didn't really care to have follow up. Seriously overrated restaurant.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food1
ambience1
service1
value1

We went for lunch for a special occasion ...

 
 (Tahoe)
·Dined on September 11, 2016

We went for lunch for a special occasion which the restaurant was informed of.

Inattentive and slow service.

Mediocre food.

Not what it used to be.

Not sure we will go back.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food2
ambience4
service1
value2

Selected to dine at this restaurant for ...

 
 (Las Vegas)
·Dined on September 11, 2016

Selected to dine at this restaurant for my husband's birthday as we received a gift card. Waiter was extremely slow and hard to understand. Never acknowledged my husband's birthday, even tho we mentioned it. I ordered the seafood risotto not realizing it was made with squid ink. There was so much squid ink in my dish that my mouth and teeth turned black and it was extremely salty. Ordered the wine flight and something was floating in my cup and couldn't even get the waiter to come over to fix it. He was hard to find if we needed anything. Overall, an ok dinner, I've had better at similar restaurants for 1/2 the price.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience4
service2
value3

We have dined with you for 2 decades. Th ...

 
 (Central Coast)
·Dined on September 6, 2016

We have dined with you for 2 decades. The braided sea bass last Monday was not a success.

Tags: Wood Oven
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience3
service2
value3

The service was very slow but attentive. ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on September 5, 2016

The service was very slow but attentive. It seemed to me that there was an insufficient number of servers.

Tags: Pre/post Theatre, Great for Outdoor Dining, Comfort Food
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service3
value4

Not much to brag about.. We were a part ...

 
 (Washington DC)
·Dined on September 4, 2016

Not much to brag about.. We were a party of 6 celebrating dear friends anniversary with dinner here (their choice). We had reservations and we seated early (squeezed) into a table that due to its location was very tight - and the restaurant was nearly empty.

Our server missed a chance to show off the restaurant by failing to observe that this was a large group, in a good mood, who was willing to spend to have a good time. His manner was dour at best, with no suggestions or guidance as to what appetizers were best to share, what wines were special.. nothing. Just like ordering a McDonald"s. We were well done with our appetizer when the food arrived. Several complained that the food was not cold but not hot either. The food made up for it by being bland and generally unremarkable... think Olive Garden. The desserts did end the evening well. despite having to beg for the dessert menu. Oh... no cream and sugar with the coffee as requested (they did take it off the bill). $400 later we left unimpressed and vowing not to be back. Oh.. as our dinner wound toward 9.30 ish, the service really dropped off..as the staff was too busy pre-closing for an early exit on a Saturday night. Guess I can't blame them ... I wanted out too.

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food2
ambience2
service2
value2

Nice place in downtown Palo Alto. Very ...

 
 (New Orleans)
·Dined on September 4, 2016

Nice place in downtown Palo Alto. Very good food and nice atmosphere. It was a nice place for date night with my wife and both of us enjoyed it. It's a solid pick when looking for Italian food in Palo Alto.

Tags: Business Meals, Cozy, Neighborhood Gem, Good for Anniversaries
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience3
service4
value4

Before a movie.

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on September 4, 2016

Before a movie.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience5
service5
value3

The ambiance was dull...Lots of people w ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on September 3, 2016

The ambiance was dull...Lots of people walking around in suits but did not observe the customers needed service. The service was unprofessional slow and poor. Water refreshment was slow. Table clearing was slow. Check was slow. The management did not observe that tables needed attention they just kept walking around being "busy". The kitchen was obviously slow as the chefs were chatting...but the food took too long to come out.

The food was good, but it will take much to get me back there.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience1
service1
value2

A delicious meal as usual. Refilling oil ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on September 3, 2016

A delicious meal as usual. Refilling oil and vinegar for the bread was bit slow, but otherwise the courses arrived in a timely fashion. Tried the special Amatriciano pasta where a portion was donated to earthquake victims in Italy. The pasta was great and the cause was to be applauded. Recommended wine was nothing special and a bit overpriced. We'll be back for a sample of Venetian cuisine.

Tags: Afternoon Coffee, Good for Anniversaries, Comfort Food, Good for a Date, Good for Birthdays, Quiet Conversation
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service4
value3

The food here has always been good. It ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 31, 2016

The food here has always been good. It is comfortable and restful.

Tags: Wood Oven, People Watching, Casual, Family Style
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience3
service3
value4

The 1/2 chicken was a bit dry & really h ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 29, 2016

The 1/2 chicken was a bit dry & really hard to eat. The veggies were great. My friend had Pasta Pomodoro & loved it.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience5
service4

Il Fornaio is always a great time and a ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 28, 2016

Il Fornaio is always a great time and a great meal.. This was no exception. Had a great time food was good as usual and service was fine.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service4

il Fornio has a great selection of food. ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 26, 2016

il Fornio has a great selection of food. Loved salmon dish

Tags: Quiet Conversation
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Restaurant was quiet on the evening we v ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 24, 2016

Restaurant was quiet on the evening we visited, only about 1/4 filled. Hope this is not an omen of declining business. Made for delightful conversation and ambiance. Food not quite as good as last time due to a chef's error in omitting a key ingredient on the entree and disappointment with the salad and soup (both bland and uninteresting) and one of the daily specials was NOT available that day. Service top notch as usual. We often visit because of the changing menu featuring different regions, but no special region this time, thus the daily menu.

Tags: Seasonal, Quiet Conversation, Special Occasion, Disabled Access, Good for Anniversaries
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience5
service5
value3

Consistent food for years, reasonable, a ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 21, 2016

Consistent food for years, reasonable, a good anytime go to.

Tags: Great for Brunch, Good for Groups, Wood Oven, Private Room, Authentic, Comfort Food, Sunday Lunch, Pre/post Theatre
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service4
value4

Check your tab; you may find an extra it ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 20, 2016

Check your tab; you may find an extra item you did not order!

Tags: Notable Wine List, Great for Brunch, Vibrant Bar Scene, Scenic View, Romantic, Hot Spot, Special Occasion, Fit for Foodies, Neighborhood Gem, Great for Outdoor Dining, Great for Lunch
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience5
service4
value4

The table was ready when we arrived. The ...

 
 (Sacramento)
·Dined on August 17, 2016

The table was ready when we arrived. The waiter was attentive to our needs. When the food arrived, both plates and the the food were cold. My friend had salmon and I had seafood w/pasta. The salmon was not even warm to the touch, the clams and mussels were room temperature. The waiter took them back and it appears the plates were microwaved. The salmon was now over cooked so the waiter replaced the dish while I ate my pasta, which was now dried out, while waiting for the salmon. We did not eat together. The waiter, without being asked, offered us a free desert. It was not a fair trade.

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food2
ambience3
service4
value2

Awful bruschetta. The salad was a carele ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 17, 2016

Awful bruschetta. The salad was a careless pile and the salmon was unremarkable.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food2
ambience2
service2

I wasn't happy with our dinner. There wa ...

 
 (Washington DC)
·Dined on August 13, 2016

I wasn't happy with our dinner. There was a problem with the order and it took forever to get the food. Any restaurant would have offered a discount given the very long wait but Il Fornaio didn't. I also found that the place was overpriced.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food2
ambience3
service1
value1

third time we our group (6-12 of us) ha ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 11, 2016

third time we our group (6-12 of us) have come to Il Fornaio for our business meeting and monthly gathering...we have been graced with great service - food - and making sure not only the grown ups are taken care of - but the kids that need to come - during the summer -

we will return - thanks to the staff for making sure the 9 month to 90+ year olds are taken care of in a most gracious way...

Tags: Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Good for Groups, Kid-friendly
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

The menu is limited, but the food was go ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 6, 2016

The menu is limited, but the food was good. The wait staff was friendly. I wish the menu was more complete.

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience3
service4
value3

Great Italian restaurant in the heart of ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 3, 2016

Great Italian restaurant in the heart of Palo Alto University Ave.

Excellent food, good service, great price performance and a good place for large groups.

Tags: Kid-friendly, Good for Groups, Great for Lunch, Neighborhood Gem, Notable Wine List
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Horrible experience. We ordered and wait ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 1, 2016

Horrible experience. We ordered and waited 45 minutes before the food came. At that point only 3 of the 4 plates arrived. The waiter then said, "sorry, we are out of your pasta and are getting more." So 3 of us ate while the fourth sat and watched. Finally the last plate arrived as everyone else was done. I also had noted on open table that it was a special occasion, a bday lunch, and no one at the restaurant even acknowledge such.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience4
service1
value1

A very pleasant experience. They gave u ...

 
 (Central Coast)
·Dined on July 31, 2016

A very pleasant experience. They gave us our requested table and each of our entrees was quite good. A very large restaurant that still provides a personalized service.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Great for Outdoor Dining, Special Occasion
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service5
value4

Service was very slow! One waitress fo ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 31, 2016

Service was very slow! One waitress for our entire crowded section. Took a very very long time to bring one drink! I got it right as I received my meal and it wasn't made right so they remade it and delivered it as I finished my meal

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food2
ambience3
service2

the food was fine the service was fine i ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 29, 2016

the food was fine the service was fine it was a lovely evening on the patio.

they only thing that sucks is getting this damn requests for feedback every time i use you online reservation service

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food1
ambience1
service1
value1

Food was disappointing. Minestrone just ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 25, 2016

Food was disappointing. Minestrone just so-so. Pizza burnt on edges. Service was very good.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food2
ambience4
service4
value2

charming, comfortable, quiet, great wait ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 23, 2016

charming, comfortable, quiet, great wait staff, convenient. valet parking but also parking garage across the street, excellent food, they don't rush you out to turn over the table. very nice. one of my favs! I have another resv. for 4 on 8/5

Tags: Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Special Occasion
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service5
value4

Not imressive considering its at such a ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 23, 2016

Not imressive considering its at such a prime location.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food1
ambience2
service2
value1

One of the nicest Il Fornio restaurants ...

vip
 (Hawaii)
·Dined on July 19, 2016

One of the nicest Il Fornio restaurants we've been to. Downtown Palo Alto just off University Avenue. Next door to Garden Court Hotel. We were en route from SFO to our hotel and were looking for a quiet restaurant for a nice, relaxing meal. This Il Fornio went beyond our expectations! Service was excellent. We will keep it in mind on future visits to Palo Alto.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic, Special Occasion
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value5

Reliable place but the dishes start tast ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 17, 2016

Reliable place but the dishes start tasting all the same after a while. Good location in downtown PA.

Tags: Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Kid-friendly
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service3
value3

the lamb did not look or taste of same q ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 16, 2016

the lamb did not look or taste of same quality as some of your other dishes. It looked boiled. I was disappointed as I know you have the open flame and it didn't look like it was used at all to char the lamb. The cut of meat was also not very good quality -- looked like it was pieced together from several different loins and then wrapped in soggy bacon.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience5
service5
value4

We have dined at this location over many ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 16, 2016

We have dined at this location over many years. This will be our last. We went at 5:30 on a Thursday. Had to park in the side parking lot and have to pass a bench where employees smoke and the ground and trash are filled with cigarette butts. Disgusting look and disgusting smell. When we sat at our table the wine glasses were dirty and they had to bring clean ones. We ordered the house chardonnay and it was room temperature - also sent back. The waiter disappeared and the hostess (who did her best) began to serve us and the tables around us. We had to wait far too long for the check. Entrees were OK but appeared to be tossed on the plate from a distance. The food, service and cleanliness are far better at the Burlingame location, so from now on we will go there.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service2
value3

The group (4) all really enjoyed their f ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 15, 2016

The group (4) all really enjoyed their food and thanked me for choosing this restaurant. Our waiter was excellent....friendly, courteous and quick. On our way to the theatre and we were served quickly so we had time to enjoy the ambiance and our meal with time to spare. We will definitely return.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Neighborhood Gem
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value4

Very personalized service. An enjoyable ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 9, 2016

Very personalized service. An enjoyable experience.

Tags: Special Occasion
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value4

Report this review as inappropriate?

If you believe this review should be removed from OpenTable, please let us know and someone will investigate.