One of the best choices in Lakeview/Irving Park area, Fornello is charmingly decorated as an Italian grotto, with a welcoming brick fire oven situated in the foyer-bar. The decor is pretty much kept to the walls, so the plain settings let you focus your attention on the food, which is a bargain.
Start off with the excellent calamari platter or the delightfully fresh and thin baby eggplant. The lasagna is good as comfort food but might be a bit of a disappointment to true connoisseurs, and some people say that you get what you pay for with the cheap pizza, though the multi-ingredient "Pizza Pazzo" draws some raves. The wine menu is relatively short but definitely worth sampling. The desserts are good for not being freshly made, with tartufo (a wonderful concoction made of ice cream, cocoa and hazelnuts), tiramisu and sorbet.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Claire Zulkey