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Al Forno is a popular and much-loved Takapuna institution; a family-run restaurant that looks after customers from all over the Shore, and has a welcoming ambience (with the wood fire adding to the warmth in winter) that offers a foretaste of the delicious food to come.
When Channel Magazine calls in one afternoon to chat with Emilio and Maria from Al Forno, bookings are already heavy for the evening. Maria is thinking about the tiramisu she will make, and several deliveries punctuate our conversation. A regular customer strolls in to make a booking; he’s bringing friends along to introduce them to Al Forno and wants a table for four, preferably the one his wife likes best. Maria checks times and bookings and assures him he’ll get the requested table; it’s busy but he will will arrive after other customers have vacated the table.
Just as the same chef and his team have delivered delicious home-made pasta and classic Italian meals for many years, so has the main menu stayed the same, as many customers come back wanting the dish they enjoyed when they last visited. But the changes are rung as well – specials like July’s veal osso buco or the 450gm dry aged ribeye offer treats for those prepared to forego their favourites. Whatever your choice, you can be assured of the quality: the meals always use the best New Zealand produce, spiced with Italian flair.
Al Forno’s extensive wine list runs the gamut of the best of New Zealand wine, from Central Otago aromatics and Pinot Noirs, through to full-bodied Italian Pinot grigios and classic Chianti – and much more. “People are amazed at the huge variety we have,” says Maria.
While eating-in promises a special evening of Italian food and hospitality, Al Forno also welcomes takeaway orders. Not just pizzas cooked to perfection in the wood-fired oven, or the many pasta options; people regularly order takeaways from the full dinner menu. Either way, you’re sure of a warm welcome and bounteous Italian hospitality, and it’s likely you’ll be back.
Al Forno, 34 Anzac Street, Takapuna
Open for dinner Tuesday – Sunday 5pm till late.
Channel Magazine: Issuu 67 July 2016