Trattoria Il Forno in Horsforth has been on my list to visit for some time now. In a city full of Italian restaurants of extremely high quality, both in the heart of the city as well as the outskirts, you know that something must be being done exceptionally well for you to need to make your reservation well in advance in order to guarantee a table.
Going on a Friday night, it was of course always going to be busy. Despite this (and a mild mess up on our part with the reservation timing!) we were greeted warmly and taken straight to our table. The decoration inside is rather minimal, but the feel of the place is very welcoming. When we went, there was a nice mixture of families, couples and groups of friends, showing that Il Forno is a place that is suitable for different groups, and in fact anyone who fancies a hearty, tasty meal in a family-run restaurant.
Having been horribly, horribly caught out at pizza restaurants in the past and, safe in the knowledge that Il Forno is a gelato specialist as well as a pizza specialist, we decided to avoid going for a full on starter. Instead, we opted for a bottle of fizz (well, fizzy water!) and some marinated olives. Whilst a bowl of marinated olives is not going to change your whole dining experience, it can set the tone for the meal. In this instance, they were decent quality with a nice variety to them and with some tasty bits of marinated pepper and garlic thrown in for good measure.
We spent some time thinking about what to go for (although all our choices centered around pizza as we had heard such good things about it at Il Forno) before Charlotte opted for a dorado pizza and I decided to go for a spicy Italian pizza. We both decided to make changes to our pizzas with Charlotte opting to switch the chorizo for ham and me deciding to add mushroom to my pizza.
For the record, we went for the small pizza (although we were offered the option to go for the large one!) and decided against going for the half and half option. It was nice to see that this sharing aspect to pizzas is really starting to take hold in the UK. If you do go for a large on your own and finish it I would be very impressed; the small is definitely adequate!
When our pizzas turned up, we realised we would need to add a garlic mayo to our order as the crusts looked ripe for dipping. I also noticed that my pizza had turned up without the mushrooms on it. All credit to Il Forno here as they were very apologetic and dealt with this very well, immediately removing the charge from the bill.
Our pizzas were both fantastic. The amount of flavour in the tomato sauce, the nice doughy base and the crusts that were brilliant for dipping were matched by excellent, fresh and tasty ingredients. The pizzas had been cooked perfectly. I know that some people like ultra thin crusts and might think that the slightly heavier dough is a bit too much compared to the likes of Ecco in Leeds but truly I was won over by the pizza here.
Inspired by our excellent main course, we decided to go for dessert. I will point out that this was probably against our better judgement as we were very full! Of course, the specialty being gelato (slightly lighter and healthier Italian ice cream for the uninitiated) we had to go for this and ended up having one scoop of vanilla and one scoop of Ferrero Rocher.
Both were delightful and I think I could be persuaded to nip into Il Forno on a hot day just to get some gelato!
Overall, I was mightily impressed by this unassuming little Italian in Horsforth. The pizza was excellent, the service up to scratch and the fact that it is a family run business makes it even better. Value-wise, we certainly didn’t feel out of pocket as well.
All in all, we are confident we will be back as soon as we can get a reservation!
Categories: Restaurant reviews