Il Fornaio - Palo Alto

4.3
2134 reviews
icon/ic_price_rangeCreated with Sketch.
$30 and under
icon/ic_cuisineCreated with Sketch.
Italian
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.
icon/ic_private_diningCreated with Sketch.
Private dining
Dining Style
Casual Dining
icon/ic_cuisineCreated with Sketch.
Cuisines
Italian
icon/ic_clockCreated with Sketch.
Hours of operation
Breakfast: Monday - Friday: 7:30am - 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 - 10:00pm
icon/ic_phoneCreated with Sketch.
Phone number
(650) 853-3888
icon/ic_new_windowCreated with Sketch.
icon/ic_paymentCreated with Sketch.
Payment options
AMEX, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
icon/ic_dress_codeCreated with Sketch.
Dress code
Casual Dress
icon/ic_chefCreated with Sketch.
Executive chef
Michele Godina
icon/ic_cateringCreated with Sketch.
Catering
Off-site catering available. Please contact Event Coordinator for more details.
Open Google Maps
icon/ic_locationCreated with Sketch.
icon/ic_neighborhoodCreated with Sketch.
Neighborhood
icon/ic_cross_streetCreated with Sketch.
Cross street
Hamilton
icon/ic_parking_detailsCreated with Sketch.
Parking details
Valet parking is available for $10. In addition, there is also the hotel parking lot, as well as a public lot available.
icon/ic_public_transitCreated with Sketch.
Public transit
Cal Train
Additional
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Cafe, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Private Room, 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 Michele's signature dishes.

View Private Dining Details
What 2134 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.3based on recent ratings
4.1
food
4.3
service
4.3
ambience
3.9
value
Noise · Moderate
81% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
2
1
Sort by
Newest
Filters
CM
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Had a great time food was great will return soon with friends

Report
Helpful
OK
San Francisco
31 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

We love the changing menu featuring different regions of Italy. Marche, a new region to us, had outstanding food. The service was good, the table was noisy for one reserved a week in advance (although it was next to the kitchen so it didn't bother us much), but the wine list inadequate as the featured wine from this region was not available when we tried to order a bottle (this has happened to us more than once before—you would think it would be adequately stocked in anticipation of demand). A pleasant evening for everyone and we will return.

Report
Helpful
D
1 review
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 2food 1service 5ambience 5

My company has been going here for over 2 years now, every other week, if not twice a month. You guys you were fantastic in the beginning over the course of this year, 2018, service has always been excellent and I really loved your new waiter, that man has a great accent and is really tentative, but your food has greatly declined.

I've ordered (multiple times):
BATTUTA DI MANZO: Whether I get medium-rare or even try for rare (if server allows it), it's always fully cooked. Sent back twice and the third one is still fully cooked. The seasoning over years for this meat cut has also been skimped on. A little bit more generous on the salt and pepper would've made this nice.

My favorite go-to PENNONI ALLA VODKA: I always loved this dish but in the past I want to say 2-3 months have not been so great. My pasta is always undercooked and it's more rubbery, it's like chewing a car tire at this point. I rather have it overcooked so it's more edible. I never really had a problem with this dish until now, maybe you guys changed chefs? The sauce also also comes out looking dry too, usually it's creamy and rich in it's nicely orange color, now it comes out as if it sat underneath a heat lamp for a long period of time.

PETTO DI POLLO AL PEPERONCINO: I loved the simplicity of this dish: sauce, chicken, and tossed greens. Done. This one has always been a hit or miss. Many of me and my co-workers either get it completely dry or still tender and juicy. Even when 3 of us order it at the same time, 2/3 it's dry and the dressing on the salad in this is a lot lesser than others.

My company and my co-workers really do love this place, but at the rate the food is declining, we are highly considering just picking up another restaurant like Osteria. Hopefully my team and ultimately my boss decide to stay after our next visit because I would always love to have your Pennoni Alla Vodka.

Report
Helpful
OT
1 review
Dined on September 10, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food, very nice patio, friendly but not overbearing waiters, quiet.

Report
Helpful
S
1 review
Dined on September 7, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 2ambience 3

So just to start off this is probably one of the worst restaurants I have ever experienced.
I contemplated a one star rating but the warm bread and butter convinced me otherwise.
Five of us had different pasta entrees plus two appetizers offered at Il Fornaio and it was catastrophic. We only ate a few bites and left the place. The waiter didn't even bother asking why we left all our dishes intact. The bill came to be at $190 and we were furious and disappointed. You're better off going to Olive Garden for some what better Italian food. This place is extremely expensive and lacks motive to become a fine dinning Italian ristorante as they promote to be.

Here's what we had and how it tasted:

Bruschetta: was super cold & insipid
Calamari: chewy & bland
Minestrone soup: literally water and hard legumes
Pennoni vodka: horrible bbq pasta & dry chicken
Conchiglie pollo: hard pasta & very dry
Ravioli: sausage looked raw inside & nasty
Linguine mare: again hard pasta & dry
Risotto: bland, dry and lacking flavor

Report
Helpful
J
San Francisco
103 reviews
Dined on September 4, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 5

One dines at Il Fornaio because of the lovely patio setting. The food is just one notch above mediocre; our waiter seemed to be in hurry every time he came near our table. He dodged away from our table every time we tried to catch his attention. He was in such a hurry when he refilled my iced tea, that he spilled iced tea on my lap but did not pause to apologize -- he was moving so fast that he probably did not even notice that there was tea slopped on me and the table. Two of us shared the mixed fish grill; it was a generous portion but came with just a smattering of sauce for the fish. Despite the quality of the food and service, I would return to Il Fornaio because of its very nice patio area.

Report
Helpful
DJ
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on September 2, 2018
Overall 3food 1service 3ambience 3

Dinner with friends and it was okay. I expected more from Il Fornaio. My fish was dry and full of bones. It was really hard to eat. Once I got thru picking out all the bones there was nothing left of the fish. I left hungry and disappointed. Thank goodness for carbs...aka bread. Filled up on that. I expected more from Il Fornaio, especially paying $30 for that dish.

Report
Helpful
J
New York Area
12 reviews
Dined on August 27, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 2

I hadn’t been to Il Fornaio for years but had fond memories of a lively bustling spot with great Mediterranean food. Alas, this visit disappointed and suggested I look for newer entries in the Palo Alto eating scene. My party of four arrived late on a Sunday evening and for inexplicable reasons was directed to a near empty back room. When I asked if I could sit in the more full patio area I was told it would be a 20 minute wait (despite seeing a number of empty tables that never filled).
We were then greeted by our waiter who began relentlessly upselling us.
He tried to push specialty cocktails as we were getting into our seats, tried to get us from wine by the glass to a bottle, and tried to refill our glasses so we would order more. Very unnecessary, and irritating! The food itself was good but the experience left me feeling I’d rather spend my money elsewhere and get better ambience.

Report
Helpful
JG
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 26, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 3

It seems like the food quality has gone down at the Palo Alto location. My butternut squash ravioli was cold in the middle and was swimming in grease (maybe the butter separated too much?) The beet salad was bland. The dessert was good, however. The service was decent and the restaurant is in a great location in downtown PA.

Report
Helpful
MM
San Francisco
77 reviews
Dined on August 25, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

A little too expensive for what it is. $25 Corkage is ridiculous.

Report
Helpful
KV
1 review
Dined on August 21, 2018
Overall 4food 2service 4ambience 5

BEEN GOING HERE FOR YEARS, NO COMPLAINTS. I have ordered the same thing, and I only come here for the pasta that i love. (Fetticini alfredo) I am very picky and I love it at Il Fernio because it is the only place that is cheese based not cream.
Although
Monday, it was anything but the case. The sauce was SEVERELY watered down, almost no cheese. For the first time in 20 years I had to send it back :(
Our server and the manager of course did not know my back story, but I felt extremely bad.
The server and manager were really nice and handled it very well.

Thank you

Report
Helpful
GC
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on August 20, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 4ambience 4

We enjoyed the "monthly Italy regional food" theme. This helps people familiarize with the Italian regional cuisine as if we were in Italy. The presentation of the food was attractive and the food was flavorful. Our waitress was very attentive, patient, efficient, and very friendly. Parking for the restaurant was convenient. We also found all the staff approachable, friendly, and well trained! We had a great evening enjoying on our "various celebrations."

Report
Helpful
c
New York Area
15 reviews
Dined on August 18, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very good experience, thank you. I expect to return.

Report
Helpful
SY
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on August 18, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 2ambience 3

Busy Friday night and kitchen and waitstaff clearly behind. We were given a free appetizer that they brought after our appetizer we ordered but we didn’t need it and we just got weary of waiting. Food was not good when it came. Simple dishes. Vodka pasta warming at best. Special of day shrimp tasted fishy. Anyway it wasn’t great

Report
Helpful
GS
1 review
Dined on August 18, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

We were there on a Friday nite and the restaurant was not too busy. The demographic was older and not too lively

Report
Helpful
LD
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on August 16, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I had dinner with a colleague. we spent the first hour talking on the front patio which was nice and relaxing. Then, we moved inside and had a leisurely dinner. The food and wine were very good as they usually are. It's a good place to eat if you like seafood cooked in olive oil rather than butter or cream.

Report
Helpful
M
San Francisco
96 reviews
Dined on August 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I met a colleague for lunch this week. We ate in the courtyard, which was very pleasant. The service was excellent. I had a cup of minestrone soup and the salmon special. Both were excellent. Il Fornaio is consistently excellent.

Report
Helpful
M
San Francisco
23 reviews
Dined on August 15, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Can’t say I liked the scaloppini on the Festa Menu. The prosciutto just put on top was strange. Making a layered dush would have been better.

Report
Helpful
RD
San Francisco
32 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I've eaten quite a few dinners and lunches at Il Fornaio, but this review is about their breakfast service. I think that Il Fornaio is one of the best places in the Palo Alto area to have an upscale business breakfast. This time, our group of three found excellent menu choices, including some vegetarian items, delicious food, discreet but attentive service, and a relatively quiet environment that meant we did not have to shout to each other. My French Toast was was rich but not overwhelming and cooked to perfection. Frequent coffee refills -- exactly as I like. Parking is convenient with a lot next door and a public parking garage across the street. Breakfast at Il Fornaio was a great way to start the day!

Report
Helpful
D
San Francisco
170 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 5ambience 4

We have been eating here for years generally ordering cocktails, salad and a pasta entree. It must have been OK because we kept coming back. This time the Campari in my Campari and soda was undetectable and the pasta was horrible. We won't be coming back for a long time. Sad!

Report
Helpful
CY
1 review
Dined on August 13, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 3

Food was mediocre, always the same, and so boring. This place has really gone downhill. No innovation or new flavors on the menu. Service was horrible. We had to flag our server every time we needed something. We sat down and were ignored. Had to ask for kids menu, crayon, and coloring for the kids. So extremely disappointing. We have celebrated many special occasions here as well as holidays. No thank you to this place!

Report
Helpful
t
San Francisco
19 reviews
Dined on August 12, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 5ambience 4

We used to love going to Il Fornaio as a family. They like the pizzas there and we like the atmosphere. But it has become very expensive and sadly we won't go anymore. We can't afford such an expensive meal or it would be for a very special occasion. And if this is for a very special occasion then we prefer to to go to a very special place. Il Fornaio doesn't look like a very special place, it's more like a comfy and warm restaurant for every end of the week, except for thee prices that have become as high as those of a very special restaurant. That's really too bad.

Report
Helpful
BT
San Francisco
22 reviews
Dined on August 10, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 2ambience 4

Breakfast at Il Forniao is a good business thing. We felt it was poor value though - expensive given we each had 2 eggs and some fruit salad on a plate. The toast offerings were sparse, barely enough for each of us to have 1/2 piece. The tab came to $15 each and we left still hungry. They count on filling you up with fried potatoes.

Report
Helpful
c
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on August 7, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Kathy and John Carlo offered excellent service.

Report
Helpful
OT
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on August 3, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The 12oz veal chop is actually a kind of bone-in veal Parmigiano type item. Pounded, breaded, topped with tomato sauce & cheese, it covers the plate and the pile of pasta underneath. Very tasty and enough for maybe two more meals.

Report
Helpful
LL
Portland
1 review
Dined on August 1, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Until we moved out of the Bay Area twenty years ago, this was one of our go-to spots when we lived in Midtown Palo Alto. We still regularly visit and dine in the area, but believe there are better choices.

Our party of six reported some waitperson misses, and the main courses we selected were not well-prepared enough for the price and past reputation.

Parking was surprisingly easy despite road construction a block away.

The host, bar, and attendant staff were all very professional and friendly.

Report
Helpful
M
San Francisco
18 reviews
Dined on July 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Consistently very good food, great service and the noise level is low and allows you to have a conversation without yelling! Bartender know how to make crafted drinks like a perfect manhattan.

Report
Helpful
t
San Francisco
19 reviews
Dined on July 29, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 3

Disappointing. It had been awhile since we’d eaten here. The salad was lackluster,as were the vegetables accompanying the main course,

Report
Helpful
KS
1 review
Dined on July 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We came here to celebrate our daughters 14th Birthday - her choice of restaurant. When we arrived our daughter was given a birthday card with all staff signatures - such a nice gesture! Food delicious as always - we will be back soon.

Report
Helpful
OT
Las Vegas
1 review
Dined on July 27, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 3

The paste dishes were under cooked and way too chewy. The sauces overpower the pasta. The appetizers were much better.

Report
Helpful
PA
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on July 21, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Always great food. Our teenage grand-daughter's favorite restaurant which is therefore the special occasion.

Report
Helpful
M
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on July 20, 2018
Overall 3food 1service 4ambience 4

I ordered a Salmon special, beautiful piece of fish, cooked perfectly but tasted like it had been salted on both side twice, ugh. Inedible. The other meal was very good but consistency is paramount.

Report
Helpful
p
San Francisco
13 reviews
Dined on July 19, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

Go to place for business lunch. Good food. Great service. Consistent.

Report
Helpful
JP
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on July 15, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 3

Seems that the overall quality has diminished. I doubt I'll go back, time to find another favorite.
You food quality is not what is use to be.

Report
Helpful
OT
1 review
Dined on July 15, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 5

Great service but only decent food

Report
Helpful
OK
San Francisco
32 reviews
Dined on July 14, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

One of our best recent visits. We still miss the popular prix fixe offerings based on their rotating regional focus..and it was often paired with regional wines, including a flight of wines. What a great experience in the past and evidently now disappeared. However, our choices this time were tasty, well prepared, even generous. A bonus was the birthday dessert for one guest which was not a scoop of ice cream or a cupcake but a hearty zabaione-type dessert with a candle! Bravo, Il Fornaio. A wonderful conclusion to a great meal.

Report
Helpful
OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on July 14, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I took my girlfriend to this place for our 4 year anniversary. From the very beginning we were greeted and they had a card for us on our table where the manager and some employees wished us a happy anniversary. The food was amazing and the service was really great. For a busy Friday night we got really good service and fast service. Definitely a place I will be going in the future and future Anniversary’s to come.

Report
Helpful
m
1 review
Dined on July 14, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Management accommodated our special seating request and server Jackie was terrific. Hadn't been in awhile but looking forward to returning.

Report
Helpful
M
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on July 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful food and service. Definitely will come again.

Report
Helpful
CL
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on July 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a great meal! We like to go every Wednesday.

Report
Helpful
1
2
3
54

Tweets by Il Fornaio - Palo Alto