During the first two weeks of every month, we would go to Il Forniao across from the Santa Monica Pier for the Festa Regionale. We would enjoy dishes and wines that celebrated specific culinary regions of Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Piemonte, Umbria, Sicilia, Toscana, Campania, Lombardia, Lazio, Abruzzo and Marche.
Besides good food and gifts given to visitors to any Il Fornaio during the Regionale, the Santa Monica restaurant was a friendly place to visit all the time. The waitstaff was welcoming, Luis, the executive chef, and managers like Fernanda and Chamal became friends and always stopped by the table to see if we needed anything.
Even though the interior was large, with two levels for dining, an open kitchen area and a long bar, the restaurant was warm and cozy, dominated by the colorful accents of a Venetian mural and dark wood.
For posts about Il Fornaio, please go to: Putting Romaine's Feet to the Fire, Valentine's Day, The Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region Comes to Il Fornaio, Abruzzo at Il Fornaio, Santa Monica, Il Fornaio Heads North to Lombardia, Il Fornaio Serves Up a Recession Busting Tasting Menu, Il Fornaio Heads South to Campania, A Trip to Italy, A Tasting at Il Fornaio, Couscous, and Plate EnvyOn the regular menu, we had our favorites. The Il Fornaio salad with creamy dressing, topped with sheets of quality Parmesan cheese, the paper thin pizzas, the branzino with mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach and roasted vegetables and the gelato ice cream.
We only learned of the closing when a friend emailed saying she was meeting friends and needed a place to eat in Santa Monica. Since Il Fornaio was permanently closed, she said, where else would I suggest.
web site lists all the branches so if we want to enjoy affordable, well-prepared, authentic Italian food, we know where to go.
There is talk Il Fornaio will find a new, more affordable space in Santa Monica. That would be great.