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Forno started service last spring, a week before the wildly popular “Book of Mormon” opened at the Hippodrome across the street. While the scenario created a trial-by-fire, the crowds also confirmed what owner Bryan Noto, former manager of Alewife, had suspected. “I felt strongly that the neighborhood could sustain another restaurant,” he says of the area that also includes the University of Maryland Hospital and many highrise apartment buildings. “Some nights at Alewife we were turning away 100 people.”

Noto and his wife and co-owner Emini Dukic, were inspired after traveling in Sonoma, where local wines were served with simple dishes made from “natural, seasonal ingredients,” he says. His father-in-law, Amir Dukic, helped build out the space with wood reclaimed from Pennsylvania barns, recycled brick and window panes salvaged from a church.

Chef Kris Sandholm’s menu features brick oven pizza and small plates, salads and main courses, use such locally sourced ingredients as Big City Farms greens, Virginia rockfish and Springfield Farms chicken.

The restaurant is prepped for the theater season. Menu items are “geared to come out quickly while still having higher quality,” says Noto. “We’ve got it down at this point.” 17 N Eutaw St., 443-873-9427. fornobaltimore.com —MT

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