Il Fornaio Carmel ~ Authentic Italian cuisine in an upscale-yet-casual atmosphere by an attentive, friendly staff. ''We treat people like friends and family,'' says General Manager Matt Whitney. ''We get all excited about big crowds, like we get during big golf events and Car Week.''
The first two weeks of each month, Il Fornaio features the signature cuisine of a particular Italian region, paired with the wines produced in that area. But the everyday menu items are what keeps customers returning. One favorite is Pollo Toscano, rosemary-seasoned free-range chicken served with sautéed seasonal vegetables and roasted Yukon Gold potatoes. The thin crust, wood-fired oven baked pizzas are popular as well and a standout dessert is a classic Italian house crafted tiramisu.
Among locals, Il Fornaio is also known as an excellent spot for an after work gathering. ''We have the biggest bar in town and a very popular happy hour,'' Matt says. The restaurant also has extensive banquet facilities: one 60-person venue and two that accommodate 30. ''Our outdoor ocean-view deck is popular for wedding ceremonies as well. Then the group can head inside for the reception.''