About Il Fornaio - Palo Alto

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.

520 Cowper Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301
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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

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

3.9

service

3.8

ambience

4.0

value

3.7

noise

Moderate

89% would recommend it to a friend

Business Meals (26)
Special Occasion (25)
Good for a Date (20)
See All
Good for Birthdays (18)
Great for Lunch (18)
Good for Groups (17)
Creative Cuisine (17)
Comfort Food (17)
Wood Oven (17)
Good for Anniversaries (16)
Open Kitchen (16)
Casual (15)
Cozy (15)
Family Style (15)
Authentic (12)
Great for Brunch (11)
Fit for Foodies (11)
Neighborhood Gem (11)
Quiet Conversation (10)
Healthy (10)
Good Vegetarian Options (8)
Fun (8)
Kid-friendly (7)
Seasonal (7)
Worth the Drive (6)
Sunday Lunch (6)
Notable Wine List (6)
Bar Seating (6)
Great for Outdoor Dining (5)
Pre/post Theatre (4)
Tasting Menu (4)
People Watching (4)
Romantic (4)
Private Room (4)
Gluten Free Options (4)
Local Ingredients (4)
Fireplace (3)
Handcrafted Cocktails (3)
Disabled Access (3)
Modern Decor (3)
Paleo Friendly (2)
Hot Spot (2)
Organic (2)
Happy Hour (2)
Outstanding Value (2)
Afternoon Coffee (1)
Scenic View (1)
Great Beer (1)
Historic (1)
Afternoon Tea (1)
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1802 reviews
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Great Place for Upscale Italian Food. Gr ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined 4 days ago

Great Place for Upscale Italian Food. Great Wine List. Friendly Staff. One of my Favorite Restaurants. Like Cucina Regionale

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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

Good good good good

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on February 12, 2017

Good good good good

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food4
ambience4
service4

My salad portion shrunk but price did no ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on February 10, 2017

My salad portion shrunk but price did not. The insalata di pollo used to be larger. ingredients were the same, but the portion was smaller.

Tags: Neighborhood Gem
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food3
ambience5
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value2

Okay food, service varies between attent ...

vip
 (New York Area)·Dined on February 10, 2017

Okay food, service varies between attentive and outright rude depending on the server.

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food3
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My egg white omelette was very cold and ...

 
 (New York Area)·Dined on February 7, 2017

My egg white omelette was very cold and not very tasty.

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food1
ambience3
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value1

Friend's Birthday.

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on February 5, 2017

Friend's Birthday.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

It had been several years since I'd dine ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on February 4, 2017

It had been several years since I'd dined here and I'm sorry to say the quality seems to have decreased quite a lot in that time. Nothing we ate tasted especially good, and we tried the bruschetta, caprese salad, Caesar salad, penne with vodka sauce, and the spinach ravioli. The drinks from the bar were decent though they were pretty small for the price. Overall, I was surprised by how high the prices are for the quality of the food. Our server was nice, but the timing of the food was off and our entrees came while we were still finishing salads. I don't think I'd go back.

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food2
ambience3
service3
value2

I took a couple of hungry students here ...

vip
 (Minneapolis)·Dined on February 4, 2017

I took a couple of hungry students here and was very happy. There was a well priced wine list and lots of traditional Italian dishes. The prices were good and it was conveniently located right at the Garden Court Hotel in the heart of Palo Alto on the Stanford free shuttle route.

Tags: Fun, Comfort Food
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food4
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service5
value5

The food was too salty from the calamari ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 30, 2017

The food was too salty from the calamari to the Chopino. Chopino was too salty to drink soup.

I hope manager or other people should taste it .

This is not a kid's pizza shop so we do not want to put numbers on the table when they take the order. The waiter can make your own notes. When we were eating dessert, there were lots of dishes not cleared. They need more training

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food2
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service2
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Solid meal with very good service. Have ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 30, 2017

Solid meal with very good service. Have always found this to be a reasonable spot to get a reservation last minute.

Tags: Kid-friendly, Business Meals
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food4
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Te food took far too long to arrive at o ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 29, 2017

Te food took far too long to arrive at our table on a Saturday night with children present.

Tags: Casual
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food3
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Consistently the best Il Fornaio in the ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 27, 2017

Consistently the best Il Fornaio in the bay area. Much better ambiance than SJ. Had chipino fish stew and was excellent. Very good wine list. Have eaten here dozens of times over the years and always enjoy. Stayed at garden Court Hotel, so tried Il Fornaio for breakfast next morning and was delightful. Same warm ambiance, eggs and potatoes with italian style. Price of breakfast was good value, two people $31.

Tags: Business Meals, Seasonal, Neighborhood Gem, Cozy, Great for Lunch, Great for Brunch, Romantic
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food5
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The service and ambiance at Il Fornaio i ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 24, 2017

The service and ambiance at Il Fornaio is always exceptional. It is a wonderful place for a business lunch or meeting.

Tags: Good for Anniversaries, Wood Oven, Quiet Conversation, Special Occasion, Authentic
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food3
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Tagliatelli was just okay and not partic ...

 
 (New York Area)·Dined on January 22, 2017

Tagliatelli was just okay and not particularly warm. Bread was fine. Service was slow -- I think the waiter forgot about us after he greeted us. We waited 15 minutes to order a drink, then waited again to order.

Tags: Wood Oven
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food3
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service2
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I love Il Fornaio. We have gone there ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 22, 2017

I love Il Fornaio. We have gone there many times for family celebrations. It saddens me not to rate this experience highly. We went for our 49th anniversary and hoped for a leisurely delicious meal, not one that I had to prepare for a change.

As it turned out, there was a computer glitch which lost our order as well as others. Our waiter, who, on his second day of work, was working hard but was overwhelmed by the problems the glitch caused. Our dinner took forever to be served and did not feel like a celebration, but like a day at the office.

Tags: Cozy, People Watching
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food3
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one of our better visits. Good service a ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 20, 2017

one of our better visits. Good service along with creative and good food. Like the featuring of different regions of Italy every month or so. Lombardi was one of the better ones. Excellent bread this evening.

Tags: Family Style, Special Occasion, Casual, Creative Cuisine, Kid-friendly, Tasting Menu, Great for Lunch, Good for Anniversaries, Open Kitchen, Comfort Food, Pre/post Theatre
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food4
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Admittedly food is always delicious when ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 20, 2017

Admittedly food is always delicious when you're with someone you love but Il Fornaio is consistently delicious. Starting with fresh bread, salads are flavorful, all food obviously prepared fresh which is obvious from the taste. Will always return!

Tags: Healthy, Authentic, Good Vegetarian Options
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food4
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service4
value4

Good spot for dining. Consistent and wel ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 16, 2017

Good spot for dining. Consistent and well prepared food. We like the Taste of Festa regional menu.

Tags: Authentic, Family Style, Good for Birthdays
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food5
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service1
value4

We had a really nice dinner with great s ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 16, 2017

We had a really nice dinner with great service. Hanging with friends or with family.

Tags: Bar Seating, Casual, Family Style, Good for a Date, Great for Lunch, Handcrafted Cocktails, Good for Birthdays
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food4
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service5
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The food and the service were excellent. ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 14, 2017

The food and the service were excellent. Went for the monthly Festa that is always enjoyable.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Creative Cuisine
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food5
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Not happy with the service. After sitti ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 11, 2017

Not happy with the service. After sitting at the table, found there was a hair on the small side plate. Indicated this to a waiter (or auxiliary waiter) and he reacted as if annoyed, picked up a plate from adjacent table and replaced ours without even mumbling a "sorry sir".

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food4
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service2
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This restaurant never disappoints us. A ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 9, 2017

This restaurant never disappoints us. Attentive staff. Creative items on the menu. Reasonable prices.

Tags: Comfort Food, Creative Cuisine
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food4
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I ordered the special, which was pasta w ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 2, 2017

I ordered the special, which was pasta with lobster and mussels in arrabiata sauce. The waiter explicitly recommended against ordering it, which I thought was strange, but since I seldom have the chance to order lobster I decided to get it anyway. The dish was a big disappointment. It was a whole lobster, split down the middle, which I knew ahead of time. This would have been fine if the restaurant had had the correct implements to extract the meat. It took them a while to find me a cracker to open the shells, and they had no small/thin fork for pulling out the meat. By the time I had extracted the meat (practically with my bare hands), the rest of the dish was cold. Although the description said the sauce would have mussels, the kitchen must have been short because it was a mix of mussels and clams. The sauce was bland and, although the waiter assured me it was made fresh in-house, the pasta tasted just like dried store-bought to me. For $35 I expected much better. I can recommend, however, the zabaione alla gritti dessert - it was very good.

Regarding service, our waiter was friendly, but he seemed rushed. We had a very long wait for them to bring the food. We witnessed a bus-boy spill a container of unwrapped toothpicks on the floor and then just pick them up and put them back in the container on the table next to us.

We've been coming to this restaurant for years, and every time I've told myself it will be better next time. I'm ready to give up and move on, though.

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food2
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We like Il Fornaio in other locations, s ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 1, 2017

We like Il Fornaio in other locations, so went here for late lunch as were in the area.

Food was very, very good as expected. Our waiter admitted to being "new" and had to be prompted several times by me for assistance (getting the coffee to the table I'd ordered 15 min before and then I had to ask for a refill later; not completely clearing the shared salad plates and utensils before entree was brought. Finally other than bringing the food, he never checked with us again on his own initiative.)

My husband has to go Gluten Free on pastas and pizza. Our waiter checked with the kitchen and then told us there was no gluten-free pizza. Mmmmm I thought I recall ordering GF Pizza Margherita at the downtown San Jose location. Maybe I'm wrong on this; can't recall but my husband and I both looked at each other? "Don't they have GF at San Jose?" we both said to each other, so why wouldn't Palo Alto have it too. We shared GF pasta dish instead.

Otherwise, lovely atmosphere, great food and we'd definitely go back.

Tags: Cozy, Comfort Food, Authentic, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
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service3
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We were there on New Year's Day for brun ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 1, 2017

We were there on New Year's Day for brunch. There were 20-25 in our party, originally our reservation was for 15. They did accommodate with a long table. We were there quite literally for an hour and a half with no food served. At that point 2/3's of our party left. The five of us who remained, our food took another 20 minutes, and it was barely warm. We had attended a wedding the night before, in the adjoining hotel. There were other smaller parties eating brunch, and they too experienced long waits and cold food. So I can't attribute it to the size of our party. The manager did apologize and comped our meal. But the delays were really above unreasonable and the service was not what I would have expected for such a nice, and established restaurant🙁

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food2
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From A-B to Z... Host(Hostess), seating, ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 1, 2017

From A-B to Z... Host(Hostess), seating, waiter (Dann), chefs etc, all made the experience on a Saturday night (New Year's Eve) excellent. Food, service was all great! Would come again.

Thank you Il Fornaio!

Tags: Handcrafted Cocktails, Comfort Food, Hot Spot, Family Style, Romantic, Authentic, Good for Anniversaries, Great Beer, Bar Seating, Local Ingredients, Open Kitchen, Special Occasion, Great for Outdoor Dining, Private Room, Great for Lunch, Fit for Foodies, Wood Oven, Notable Wine List, Casual, Fireplace, Worth the Drive, Cozy, Seasonal, Tasting Menu
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food5
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service5
value5

This is an old Palo Alto restaurant that ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 29, 2016

This is an old Palo Alto restaurant that has maintained its standard of excellence in both food and service for more than half a century. Unconditionally recommended.

Tags: Family Style, Good for Anniversaries, Quiet Conversation, , Fit for Foodies, Great for Brunch, Sunday Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining
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food5
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Our Christmas Eve dinner experience at I ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 25, 2016

Our Christmas Eve dinner experience at Il Fornaio was the worst in approximately 30 years of eating there. We were "greeted" by an unfriendly, poorly organized reception staff and a crowd of unseated diners jamming the entrance and surrounding the reception desk. The excuse for the disorganized scene was that a “large party" had overstayed. Forty-five minutes after our reservation time, we were perfunctorily seated after many new arrivals had come and left in disgust.

Then there was the meal. The waiter was pleasant, but did not know much about the menu offerings. The wine and antipasto were served quickly and enjoyed. The entrees, other than the pizza, were all a disaster. One entree was no longer available after the order was placed. A substitute order arrived late without any chicken in the chicken pasta, so the replacement was late as well. The salmon entree arrived cold and was sent back to be reheated. Even hot, it was disappointing - bland and unattractively presented. The risotto entree was served like a lump of brown dirt piled on the plate with no garnish. Grated parmesan was not offered and had to be requested after all the other issues were resolved.

The experience seemed to be the result of poor management: poorly trained, insufficient staff not committed to hospitality, especially on a holiday evening.

This meal was an expensive “total fail” and will cause many of us not to risk eating at Il Forniao again.

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food1
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service1
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Did not disappoint with Italian menu--I ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 25, 2016

Did not disappoint with Italian menu--I had a special with thinly sliced veal and mushrooms over polenta and it was delicious.

The one HUGE caveat, is there is outdoor patio seating with heat lamps and they do NOT disclose that when you make a reservation. It was a freezing December night and they originally had put us outside, but I refused and fortunately, we were put in another room (Siberia) but it was at least warm. Make sure you notify restaurant of where you would like to sit when you make a reservation!

Tags: Good for Groups
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food4
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service4
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The service and food were both horrible. ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 25, 2016

The service and food were both horrible. It took forever for us to get bread and water let alone order. Eventually our meal came but they forgot our salads first so we ended up cancelling them. Horrible dinner and even worse service!!

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Good food although by the time it finall ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 25, 2016

Good food although by the time it finally arrived it was just lukewarm. Service was extremely slow and spotty.

The restaurant has a nice atmosphere and good parking.

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food3
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I would have rated food 5 stars except t ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 25, 2016

I would have rated food 5 stars except that our food arrived at the table lukewarm.

Tags: Quiet Conversation, Cozy, Neighborhood Gem, Great for Brunch
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food4
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Six of the 8 of us ordered crab benedict ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 24, 2016

Six of the 8 of us ordered crab benedict however they made regular with ham instead so had to redo. It was delicious. Overall service was slow however we were feeling leisurely so it wasn't a problem on this day.

Tags: Good for a Date, Great for Brunch
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food4
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Our server was a nightmare. He was rude ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 24, 2016

Our server was a nightmare. He was rude to my 24 year old daughter. He seemed only interested in paying attention to the other tables and we had to continually ask another server for what we needed.

Tags: Great for Brunch
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food5
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service1
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Service poor by being slow, dishes being ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 24, 2016

Service poor by being slow, dishes being improperly explained, wrong wine being served, dinner slow being served, dishes not done at same time, one dish not being served warm. Just a terrible experience to have with two grown daughters being home for Christmas and friends visiting from Washington.

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food2
ambience2
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Only Il Fornaio in PA can get away with ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 24, 2016

Only Il Fornaio in PA can get away with delivering poor food quality and keep existing. How can you allow the kitchen at an Italian place to be continuously unable to prepare the basics? Pasta undercooked, Potatoes basically raw, food cold. With this performance any other place would get out of business and finally make way to an offering that deserves to be paid for.

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The food was good, I have always loved t ...

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 23, 2016

The food was good, I have always loved this restaurant. Only complaint is I had to keep flagging someone down for my tea refills.

Tags: Great for Lunch, Modern Decor, Special Occasion, Cozy
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food5
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Good straight forward Italian food. Good ...

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 23, 2016

Good straight forward Italian food. Good downtown Palo Alto location with parking nearby.

Tags: Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining
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food4
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There four of us for lunch -- all forme ...

 
 (New York Area)·Dined on December 19, 2016

There four of us for lunch -- all former co-workers in a Silicon Valley high-tech company. This was a great choice for an informal lunch. Service was excellent and the overall atmosphere was conducive to our conversations. The menu had something for everyone and all were pleased with their selections. Two of us requested changes to the entrees as described on the menu and the kitchen met our requests perfectly.

We will be back.

Tags: Creative Cuisine, Quiet Conversation
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food4
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service5
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I normally rate Il Fornaio at least Very ...

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

I normally rate Il Fornaio at least Very Good but last night we went later than usual and they were out of some dishes (and tried to suggest some lame ingredient substitution) and one of the dishes we ordered wasn't prepared as described. But what we got was as usual very good!

Tags: Gluten Free Options, Good for a Date, Notable Wine List, Quiet Conversation, Open Kitchen, Fit for Foodies
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