SAN ANTONIO - The exterior of Il Forno might appear "shabby chic" to the first time patron. However, the establishment is an intentional design of interior restoration meets organic farm-to-table product. The yield is primarily a pretty good pizza.
"We are a wood-fired pizza restaurant," Jason Garcia said. "We have a focus on local and sustainability."
Garcia is chef and general manager for the two-year-old business located at 122 Nogalitos Street. The restaurant is owned by Michael Sohocki who also owns Restaurant Gwendolyn and Kimura.
"The focus is on pizza that you would find in southern Italy," Garcia said.
Il Forno means "the oven" in Italian. Garcia said the name's connection to the business is two-fold. The first reason is the huge oven they installed at the business. He admits they are better ar cooking than construction.
Their wood-burning oven adds character to a space filled with hand-built furniture and reused wood.
The other connection to the Il Forno name comes from ovens he said were in the center of small villages in Italy. Garcia said people would drop off food and pick it up for lunch or dinner.
"We know where our food comes from. It comes from the surrounding area... San Antonio," Garcia said.
He said that includes produce, meat and their Charcuterie.
Il Forno even has a community garden for their neighbors in Southtown. Of course, the restaurant clips from the garden for its own product.
Garcia said the staff doesn't accept tips. Instead, they encourage those who want to give money to donate to the community garden.
The menu is straightforward.
"The columns on the menu are real tongue-in-cheek," Garcia said. "We have 'pizza.' We have 'more pizza' and we have a column that says 'not pizza.'"
Neighborhood Eats was provided with a sample of Il Forno's fare.
Garcia said pizza aficionados stop by for their margherita pizza because it's really just the basics: Sauce, hand pulled mozzarella cheese and garden-picked basil. Delicious!
Il Forno's three meat topped "Interno" was just as good.
Neighborhood Eats thought the true winner was the restaurant's watermelon panzanella: Toasted focaccia croutons, cubed watermelon, fresh mint, toasted almonds, kalamata olives and a house-blended balsamic vinaigrette. ¡Qué rico!
That's this week's edition of Neighborhood Eats. If you have a suggestion for Marvin, email him your recommendation (Mhurst@kens5.com), send a tweet (@Mhurstkens5) or post it on his Facebook page. #KENS5EATS