Chasing Richman: #18 Al Forno (Providence, R.I.)
My very first planned stop on the “Chasing Richman” tour was Al Forno in Providence RI. It was Allen Richman’s selection as #18 of 25 best US pizzas, and since I’m practically living in Providence for the next year, I thought I should work my way from the bottom of the list, going up and get all the local places out of the way first.
I arrived in the early evening to a very heavily landscaped brick building that had an outdoor courtyard in the center, with a large bar at the back end by the main entrance doors into the restaurant. Being alone, I opted to sit outside by bar since it was a beautiful night and the view was very comforting with all the ivy and greenery around me.
Dinner began with a glass of wine from the well thought out wine list, with many “by the glass” wines that were very reasonably priced. I opted for the Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella salad that had fresh made buffalo mozzarella, arugula, spiced olives, house-made salami that were all spectacular together. The waitress brought me out two types of fresh sliced bread. I loved the texture and taste and only wished that they had been in an oven to make them warm and crispy, but they went wonderfully with the high quality olive oil that was at the table. As I knocked off remaining salad and had started to delve into my second basket of bread, my pizza arrived
I think Allen Richman described the pizza as being in the shape of an artist’s paint pallet, and I found that description to be dead on. My lopsided beauty was a sight to behold indeed, it had fantastic spots of light charring and grill marks throughout the pizzas crust along with a fantastic smoke flavor that was imbedded into the dough. Which made me recall my getting out of the car prior to entering the restaurant and picking up the faint scent of hickory smoke in the air and wondering if there might be a BBQ joint somewhere nearby. But after tasting the pizza, I’m more convinced that it was the wood ovens and grills at Al Forno that I must have been smelling in that parking lot.
One takeaway of eating this pizza was that it is apparent this is a high quality and lovely restaurant, with so much more to the menu to explore and savor than top notch pizza. I can’t wait to go back for my next visit to do the rest of the expansive menu some justice. I have a feeling eating pizza at Al Forno may be just the tip of the iceberg on its true food capabilities, and I aim to find out soon...
Taste – 9
Experience - 9
Value - 7
Score – 8.3