Forno Bistro is an Italian-American restaurant in Saratoga Springs, NY. Don’t go there hungry. The bar is nice, though. I’d go back for drinks at the bar.
They’re a step up from Olive Garden and chain restaurants, but after my dinner tonight, I don’t really see myself wanting to go back again. I went with a few other folks. The pleasant was that they split our checks without us asking. They added in an auto grat. The service wasn’t terrible, but our server actively stayed away from our table and took a while to refill drinks – seemed more interested in padding the bill. One of our dining companions also had a food allergy, mentioned it to the server, and the dish came out with the problem food still on it. Who’s expo-ing? They gave the diner a little bit of sorbet while waiting for the requested dish to come out, but our server pretty much disappeared after that. I’d just rather have a server interested in my dining experience instead of how much their 18% auto grat is going to be.
The server also pushed signing up for their free dining club card and mentioned we’d get 10% off of all of our bills that night. We didn’t see anything off of our receipts when we paid, and when we asked out of curiosity the server mentioned that it was money that would go back on the dining card to be used as dining points at Forno at a later date. This was kind of annoying because being told we’d receive 10% off of our meals is way different than “10% of your meal is going to be added to this card that you can use eventually when you dine here and spend enough money”. It’s just a matter of goodwill – if your servers are telling diners one thing to get bonuses because they had people sign up for the dining card (I’m not sure if that’s the case at Forno, but in many other models, this is commonplace), and diners find out what they were told wasn’t exactly correct, it doesn’t exactly leave a stellar impression of your business. Do you want people to leave thinking “Wow, that was a great night!” or “That was nice, but…”
Ok, so, on to food:
Bread – there was one slice of bread per diner. They have olive oil and vinegar at the table, which was tasty, but I could have used more bread. Further requests for bread were ignored.Which was kind of a bummer, because my main would have benefitted with some bread. The bread itself wasn’t too bad. One of those par-cooked loaves that the kitchen finishes. In my FOH days, I quite enjoyed snacking on those types of bread.
I got an eggplant parm ($15). I like eggplant parmesan when I dine out because it is a royal pain to make at home – so much frying and THEN baking. The eggplant came in a rectangular dish (Il Forno has a fire oven they bake a lot of their food stuffs in). It was okay, but the eggplant parm I make at home is better. The eggplant slices were unbreaded and the whole dish was uniformly smooth and one texture. Mozzarella cheese, eggplant… it was all one mushy texture. I went to dinner hungry, and left not really full.
Albany John got a fra diavolo dish which was not at all spicy. It was okay as a pasta dish, but a few flakes of chili would have been nice. Something to add some heat to a diavolo dish.
Oh, so I liked the bartenders because they had a pretty humorous personality. I saw a liquor I liked and asked for them for a cocktail using it. That was met with the equivalent of a “Hunh, wuh? Um, okay…”, so I pretty much just looked at their bar and was like “Okay, add this, this, this, this, this, and this” because if I’m going to pay for a drink, I want it to be a tasty one and not a science experiment. But the bartender played it off well and was like “Hey, special drink I just came up with for you.” when he gave it to me. It made me smile. I’m glad I could think up a tasty drink on the fly, but my mixologist days are over. Sometimes it’s nice to just stop in a bar and be like “I like XYZ. Work your magic and do something with that.”