The team behind Cobra Lounge
step over to the dark side with Forno Diablo ("the devil's oven"). Despite the evil undertones of the name, there is something so heartening about a restaurant built around the concept of a brick oven. At Forno, we're all just primitive creatures gathered around the hearth, waiting for the wood-burning fire to cook our grub. This warmth is translated through the decor, with rich woods and enormous windows chiseled out of brick walls that stretch to impossibly high ceilings.
Every dish at this oven-centric spot seems fresh from the Italian countryside. For starters, the "Bruschetta 3 Ways" comes on a crusty Tuscan bread. Topped with fresh mozzarella, the "Garbanzo" take forges chickpeas and black olives into an herbal medley of roasted garlic, rosemary and basil. The "Tomato Basil" is a delicious spin on the classic, while the "Apple Raspberry Jam" seamlessly melds sweet and savory with sauteed apples, red onions, brie cheese and fresh raspberry jam. If you manage to move forward from the earthy apps, you get to choose from house specialties like hand-made gnocchi or an array of fire-singed meats including a killer NY Strip and one of the best pork chops on the face of the earth.
In any brick-oven establishment, all eyes are on the pizza menu, and Forno Diablo does not disappoint. Standouts seem to be the butternut squash pizza (made with brie, romano and a sage-cream reduction), and a prosciutto pie that conjures up the tastes of the Ligurian coast with home-made pesto, lemon-truffle oil, fontanella cheese and delicate slivers of prosciutto. At around 10 inches each, the pies are suitable for sharing. The massive bar, impressive patio and late hours will go a long way toward securing Forno Diablo's place as a Lincoln Park staple in no time.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: K. Tighe