Restaurant Review of Il Fornello, 8851Yonge St. N/O Hwy#7, Richmond Hill
Il Fornello is a Canadian chain of Family fine dining restaurants catering to upper middle class patrons. “il fornello” is Italian for little oven. Owen Steinberg is the Executive Chef.
Upon entering the establishment one immediately notices the “wall of wine” which is a wine rack that extends up 4 meters above the lowest floor level. The rectangular dining room is 15 meters wide and 10 long with risers along the edges sporting a line of raised tables on either width side. A long dark wood bar with a lone bartender runs along the wall beside the entrance. Opposite the Bar is the busy, open style kitchen. Patrons are offered a look into a clean kitchen.
An eclectic yet large wine list offers wines from all parts of the world. We ordered a 2006 Masi Malbec from Italy which was poorly opened but promptly served in white wine glasses. The Waiter asked if we would like some complimentary bread, and brought 3 small slices of bread.
The restaurant was at ¾ capacity and the food came out quickly and looking perfect, with tall or interesting presentations for each plate. The dinner menu, an eclectic collection of dishes seemed to try to represent some of the diverse cultures of Ontario, leaning towards the Italian side. Three dishes were ordered. The pear, arugala +gorgonzola chicken salad served with organic arugala, walnuts and Castello gorgonzola in a champagne vinaigrette was tasty but I found myself somewhat disappointed when the gorgonzola only found itself onto a small piece of toast, topping the meal. The mustardy greened salad seemed to be missing the cheese.
A mushroom gnocchi in crème sauce was good if a little bland.
The highlight dish I tried was the osso buco. The braised veal was perfectly cooked and superbly tender, with dried cherry gremolata, spaghetti squash and parmesan mashed potatoes.
I must mention the Alternative menu which was made available. It includes considerations for special diets including wheat free, glutten free, yeast free, and dairy free.
As chains of restaurants go, Il Fornello is a good night out with 19 locations in Ontario, most around Toronto. With poor wait staff and slightly higher than average prices, this restaurant is on a similar scale to the Keg.