About Il Fornaio - Palo Alto

520 Cowper Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301
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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/Private Rooms, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cafe, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking Area, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Private Room, Smoking Area, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Restaurant Photos

Vegetable Soup
Insalata De Tonno
Baba al Rhum
Almond croissant
carpaccio
Caprese
Minestrone
Bread
22Oz Porterhouse Steak
Dessert Platter
Cinnamon Twist
Beef Carpaccio
Crespelle Alla Crema Acida
pancakes
Mocha
Tosto Francese
Zabaglione
Sea bass
Arugula, Shrimp & Avocado Salad
Shrimp Risotto
Maccaroni Al Formaggio
Uova Del Fornaio Con Bruschetta
Cannela
Bellini
Cappuccino
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
Barilotti Alla Pugliese
French Toast w/ Seasonal Berries
Veggie Omlette
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

4.1

service

4

ambience

4.1

noise

Moderate

88% would recommend it to a friend

good for groups (58)
special occasion (57)
great for lunch (42)
See All
fit for foodies (39)
neighborhood gem (35)
great for outdoor dining (30)
romantic (25)
kid-friendly (21)
great for brunch (21)
notable wine list (18)
late-night find (15)
vibrant bar scene (8)
hot spot (7)
scenic view (4)
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Newest
1558 reviews
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

This was my first time dining at this lo ...

vip
Dined 6 days ago

This was my first time dining at this location. I've been a big fan of Italian food for year and truly believe that Il Fornaio does it right. The Palo Alto location does it right as well. I had one of the best risottos I've ever had there. Chef Michele was kind enough to modify one of them from their festa regional menu, making it completely vegan. Outstanding. Beautiful location with a great back patio area. Our server was great too. They all seem to have excellent training and are well versed on the menu and wine list. We had the wine flight from the Campania menu. Wines we normally wouldn't have tried but turned out to be an excellent choice thanks to our server. If you're in Palo Alto, try this place.

Tags: great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
food4
ambience5
service5
value5

I have been to this Il Fornaio about 10 ...

Dined 6 days ago

I have been to this Il Fornaio about 10 times and dined in the Burlingame location roughly 75 times because that is more convenient for me. Il Fornaio consistently delivers excellent food, service, ambience, value. It is a wonderful place to go to if you want a great meal whether you are eating alone or with a large group. There are several dining rooms with just the right spot for your party. I recommend it highly.

food4
ambience5
service4
value4

We enjoyed a father's day dinner at this ...

Dined 7 days ago

We enjoyed a father's day dinner at this restaurant. On this day, 06/19, 216, the Il Fornaio Restaurant in Burlingame was booked solid, but the Palo Alto one has available table at 6:30 p.m. We had a good meal with great service and good food food. Off street parking was within 2 to 3 blocks of the restaurant which is right off University Ave. I recommend this restaurant to family gatherings. You get excellent Italian food without having to go to Italy.

Tags: good for groups, special occasion
food3
ambience3
service1
value1

Absolutely TERRIBLE service. Worst I hav ...

vip
Dined on June 19, 2016

Absolutely TERRIBLE service. Worst I have had at any restaurant in the Bay Area in years. We were finally seated 20 minutes late, no apologies. It took 10-15 more for the waiter to get to us. My food was cooked incorrectly, had to send it back. My daughter's omelette was terrible. I could go on... I have been to Il Fornaio several times in the past few years for both work and personal meals. This may be the last. I am extremely disappointed and upset. The food has deteriorated, but words can't describe the level of service it the attitude. Terrible - stay away. There are many restaurants offering far better food, service and value within a few blocks.

food4
ambience3
service4
value3

Good quality of food and friendly serve ...

Dined on June 19, 2016

Good quality of food and friendly servers elegant

Tags: great for outdoor dining, special occasion, scenic view
food4
ambience4
service4

An old standby for us in PA. Nice to squ ...

Dined on June 18, 2016

An old standby for us in PA. Nice to squeeze at least one visit in on our trip. Sorry the closed the Il Fornaio in Portland!

food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Great meal for the price. We have eaten ...

Dined on June 12, 2016

Great meal for the price. We have eaten there twice; once for breakfast and now for late lunch. Each time, the food and service were great. Not too pricey, the ambience is great, and the food has always been great.

Tags: good for groups, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
food4
ambience4
service4
value4

We went to II Fornaio in downtown San Jo ...

Dined on June 12, 2016

We went to II Fornaio in downtown San Jose for our second date and were both less than impressed with the service and food that evening. Our waiter never brought us the additional napkins we had asked for (twice) and had a tear in his sleeve. However, our experience at II Fornaio in Palo Alto completely redeemed its brand with excellent service and great food. The wine list was impressive and offered wines from literally all over the world. We were very pleased and would recommend this place.

Tags: romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

We came to this restaurant for a post-gr ...

Dined on June 12, 2016

We came to this restaurant for a post-graduation meal with a three-generation family. We loved it! Good service, delicious food and great value.

Tags: good for groups, romantic, special occasion
food3
ambience3
service4
value3

reliable downtown Palo Alto italian rest ...

vip
Dined on June 12, 2016

reliable downtown Palo Alto italian restaurant. food is good, not great. service was excellent and the wine list very good.

Tags: great for outdoor dining, great for lunch
food5
ambience5
service5
value4

perfect for us

Dined on June 11, 2016

Good lunch and drink selections for everyone in our party, including 4 with special needs. Accommodation of our group size increase. Didn't rush our celebratory meal.

Tags: great for brunch, good for groups, special occasion, great for lunch
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Great brunch spot for family celebration

Dined on May 29, 2016

We went to Il Fornaio for brunch before my son's recent graduation. We were a party of 12 and we were delighted to find that they had put us a in a private room with beautiful painted wall murals. With grandparents in attendance it was wonderful to be in a space where everyone coulee talk and hear each other. The service and food were also outstanding. Everyone found something delicious on the menu and our waiter was very attentive and polite. We were incredibly happy with the whole outing. Excellent spot, reasonably priced for good food, and appeals to young and old. Thank you!

Tags: great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion
food3
ambience1
service2
value2

What is with Il Fornaio and the air con ...

Dined on May 29, 2016

What is with Il Fornaio and the air conditioning or lack of? I've been in 2 locations in the last few months and it's been uncomfortable hot. I sat in the bar Saturday night, waiting for my date, and it was sweltering . The bartender apologized saying that he was embarrassed. Very uncomfortable setting.

Tags: vibrant bar scene
food3
ambience5
service5
value5

Menu Item

Dined on May 25, 2016

Thanks for the wonderful experience! If possible please do add Chicken Parmigiana to your menu! It is one of my favorite Italian dishes if not the most favorite Italian dish of mine.

Tags: great for lunch
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Excellent

Dined on May 21, 2016

I contacted the event coordinator, Eva, at the restaurant and told her about our special occasion for friends getting together. She gave us special table and suggested some appetizers which were ordered in advance so that there was no wait when the group get together. Service was excellent and the food very good.

Tags: good for groups, special occasion
food4
ambience4
service4

Everything was good just not exceptional ...

vip
Dined on May 15, 2016

Everything was good just not exceptional.

food5
ambience5
service5
value5

We visited Il Forniao several years ago, ...

Dined on May 9, 2016

We visited Il Forniao several years ago, and enjoyed it very much. We were meeting a special friend in Palo Alto, and decided to go to Il Forniao. We are very happy we did. Everything was Five Star. All of us present have the same response.

Tags: fit for foodies, special occasion, great for lunch
food3
ambience5
service4
value3

We are actually HUGE fans of Il Fornaio. ...

Dined on May 9, 2016

We are actually HUGE fans of Il Fornaio. And it is my stated favorite restaurant. We go here for almost all special occassions. But for the first time, they disappointed me on this evening. It started with a very small service issue. We were brought bread but not oil and vinegar and had to track that down. The food quality was really the disappointment, though. Normally their bread is wonderful, a basket of different kinds, served warm. This evening it was a rather unexciting standard sliced loaf, cold. The soup was rather thin, also not served very hot, and had a sour taste that was unexpected given that it was butternut squash. My entree plate was not served cleanly - there were spatterings of sauce on the plate edges. And the entree itself again was not hot. And the tomato sauce tasted quite acidic, almost like it received little simmer time and not much spice. I had to add salt to both soup and entree for the first time coming here. Anyway, I certainly won't give up on Il Fornaio. I'll give it a second chance at some point. But I'm a little sad at the potential dip in quality for a place that is normally so wonderful.

Tags: kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion
food1
ambience2
service2
value1

Will never recommend this place

Dined on May 7, 2016

I went on a date at this place but the food was below average. Bread looked stale not warm, very hard to chew, ravioli was not cooked properly. I will never go again.

food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Nice

vip
Dined on May 1, 2016

We picked Il Fornaio Palo Alto as its close to Lucie Stern Theater., and the place offers a brunch menu. The waiter was attentive, we mentioned we had an hour before our 2 pm show. I enjoyed my omelet, it was perfectly cooked and the potatoes on the side were delicious. My friends enjoyed their meal too.

Tags: great for brunch, fit for foodies, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
food4
ambience4
service2
value2

Terrible drink service

Dined on April 30, 2016

Asked for an espresso Martini and showed lexi a recipe on my phone..he argued and responded that he will make it only "his way". Really didn't like his poor customer attitude especially when il fornaio is supoosed to be more high end restaurant. Some basic lessons on customer service desperately is needed.

food3
ambience3
service2
value2

Could be better...

Dined on April 27, 2016

We expected a higher sensory level but didn't meet expectations. The server wasn't attentive to our requests.

food2
ambience4
service4
value3

fish was old

Dined on April 23, 2016

The fish was old and borderline inedible. The porterhouse steak was cooked at medium instead of medium rare as specified. And the steak was mealy. I got the impression that they were clearing out the stock room. Also, we ordered the Bisteca Fiorentina, and the Ribollita, both are classic Tuscan dishes. Neither tasted even close to what we expected. The ribollita had not developed the multi-layered flavors from slow simmering that were were accustomed to from sampling this dish in Italy. Someone show the cooks how these dishes SHOULD taste. I have had better experiences in the past. This most recent dinner was a disappointment.

Tags: great for brunch
food2
ambience4
service3
value1

Had the worst lasagna dish ever (tough and doughy)

Dined on April 22, 2016

This is a beautiful and convenient location. I have had a few fairly good meals there in the past but this evening will keep us from returning. I can't believe a chef in that prominant location cannot cook a lasagna properly. My pinot grigio was warm and sweet. I should have returned it all for something else, but didn't. Never again.

food4
ambience4
service5
value3

Good, but...

Dined on April 17, 2016

Was disappointed that first 2 choices of bottles of chardonnay to order were out of stock. Said it was because a private party was ordering a lot of chardonnay, but would have thought it could have been anticipated and avoided.

Tags: kid-friendly, good for groups, great for outdoor dining
food3
ambience4
service1
value3

It is a very relaxing place to dine.

Dined on April 17, 2016

I ordered the pizza not what I expected. The whole pizza platter was placed in front of me, and a plate was not brought to me. My husband enjoyed his dinner of seafood pasta. The first two wines we ordered they were out of but made up for it by bringing a very nice bottle of wine and charged us same price as the first two bottle of wine A friend of ours works at this restaurant and told the waiter she would cover our dessert, well he charged us for it. We did not say anything we paid for it but did not tip the waiter for the dessert.

Tags: kid-friendly, great for outdoor dining, scenic view, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
food4
ambience5
service5
value5

Very pleasant experience

Dined on April 14, 2016

Had dinner at another Il Fornaio last year so i was very happy to find one in Palo Alto. Although the menu looked a bit simpler than my last time, we found many good selections and had an excellent dinner. Service was really exceptional. Food came nice and hot and it was overall a great business dinner. I would recommend to enhance the wine menu with a larger variety of Italian higher end wines. But it was all good and loved the experience.

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, neighborhood gem
food3
ambience2
service2

They have tried to cram too many tables ...

vip
Dined on April 10, 2016

They have tried to cram too many tables on one side of the room divider. The waiter had to pass by me every time to service other tables and I had to scoot in each time because he could barely fit, not to mention the distraction with all the close traffic.

food4
ambience5
service5
value4

Happy 90th

Dined on April 9, 2016

We had marvelous service, wonderful wine and excellent food in a comfortable private room for a family birthday. The room was recommended when confirming our reservation as having good acoustics for an elderly person and this worked out beautifully. One person was disappointed in the capellacci di zucca as doughier and just not as delicious as on previous visits, but the other 10 of us were very happy with our meals. Our solicitous waiter was unflappable and offered good advice on both wine and menu selections. We all had a great time, but most importantly, the honoree enjoyed herself thoroughly.

Tags: kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, great for lunch
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Great Place!

Dined on April 5, 2016

We really enjoy eating at your restaurant - Great food and service.

Tags: special occasion
food4
ambience3
service4
value4

Consistent, dependable and reasonable

Dined on April 1, 2016

Have enjoyed professional dinners here often through the years. Always a dependable go-to location which offers convenient parking and easy access to the core street (University) of downtown Palo Alto. Consistently good food and helpful servers. Only nit: wish there were a few more roundtops as opposed to two seat tables. Latter is a tad small and makes you feel like a diner as opposed to professional business tables.

Tags: neighborhood gem
food3
ambience3
service4

Worked out really well for a large party ...

Dined on March 29, 2016

Worked out really well for a large party. Service was good, fast.

food3
ambience3
service3
value3

FIrst time at this establishment. I've ...

vip
Dined on March 27, 2016

FIrst time at this establishment. I've heard a lot of good things, but didn't hold up to expectations. Food was OK. Thought they might have a special fixe Easter menu, but didn't.

Tags: great for brunch, kid-friendly, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
food3
ambience3
service3
value3

Hit or Miss

Dined on March 21, 2016

I like Il Fornaio. We have been to Palo Alto and Carmel locations multiple times and will continue to go. Food is generally good but not consistently great. We went on a Sunday this time and I think we got the "B team" in the kitchen. Fish was outstanding but potatoes were not properly drained and sitting in their own cooking water. Risotto was not properly cooked, more like a rice pilaf. Server was nice and fairly attentive.

Tags: kid-friendly, special occasion
food4
ambience4
service4
value4

Consistently good food with very good service

Dined on March 21, 2016

This was the third time we had gone there; once for no good reason, once for Valentines Day, and this time was because the other times were fairly successful. The service is always good; the first time was exceptional, which is why we came back. Also, for the squash ravioli, which is always quite good. The first time, my wife had the chicken, and was not impressed, but loved my squash ravioli. So, the next time, on Valentine's Day, she had a special squash ravioli, and she liked it a lot. This last time, my daughter and her friend ordered the Vodka pasta and the bolognese. Both could have used a bit more sauce, but the flavors were good. The service was good this time as well.

Tags: romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
food4
ambience4
service4
value4

Quiet and quaint ambience

Dined on March 20, 2016

I treated my family to brunch for my 50 th birthday celebration. The service was mediocre as the staff appeared overwhelmed. There was a large group dining in the patio area. The salmon omelet was flavorful, but the potatoes were bland. The food, overall, was of average quality. I would have appreciated a more attentive waiter . Loved the ambience!

Tags: good for groups, special occasion
food5
ambience4
service5
value3

The service (waiter) was great!

vip
Dined on March 18, 2016

The service was excellent. We food and and wine list by the glass had diverse selection.

Tags: great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
food3
ambience3
service2
value3

Unimpressed

Dined on March 15, 2016

The servers didn't get my special request over open table. I was very disappointed that nothing was done as to the bday. We ere served w tiramisu w candle in the end. But no one conslyanted w me before hand. My husband, the birthday boy, can't have tiramisu!!!

food1
ambience3
service2
value1

very disappointing~

vip
Dined on March 14, 2016

The worst salad either of us has ever had ... and that is saying something from two seasoned business travelers. Don't order the Ahi Tuna Salad! we both ordered it and it was terrible. weird with Couscous dumped on top.. served with a hard boil egg.. which sounded fine.. but they halved the egg.. removed the yoke and filled the space with two strange tasting dressings.. enough said.. yuk~ and $21 each!

food4
ambience4
service4
value4

Consistently Delicious

Dined on March 12, 2016

We have been going to Il Fornaio for over 20 years and it is consistently very good. We love the atmosphere too. Fun to sit at the counter and watch the cooks. Great for a date night or a group event.

Tags: kid-friendly, good for groups, romantic, neighborhood gem

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