For months last year, pedestrians on the Fish Market by metro Ste-Catherine were temped by a sign reading “Sexy Food. Fornostar. Coming Soon.” Well, it’s arrived, and not only is the food sexy.
With brown leather banquettes and retro-hip steel chandeliers putting everyone into an attractive light, Fornostar – a play on forno, Italian for oven – is sleek and sophisticated. Slide into a chair, order a carafe of the decent house red, and browse the menu as you enjoy complementary olives and salami. These salty treats whet the appetite for the main courses. Yes, there is a nice selection of antipasti including Carpaccio, brochette, and this reviewer’s personal favorite, vitello tonnato, but truthfully, the secondis and pizza are so large that entrees are not necessary.
We will begin with the pizza. Fans of the ever-popular Mano a Mano at Place St-Boniface might find Fornostar’s pies on the smaller side, but they are indeed perfectly sized. The crisp crust, fresh from the wood-burning forno is the ideal base for an abundance of delicious options. At our table we tried two: the quattro stagioni and the prosciutto e rucola. Americans might be accustomed to seeing a “four season” pizza divided into quarters – one with artichoke, one with mushroom, one with ham and one with olives – but at Fornostar, all ingredients are mixed together a la pizza capricciosa, creating a delightful mélange of flavours and textures. As for the prosciutto pie, it was very sexy indeed. The luscious, paper-thin strips of salty ham, juxtaposed with the peppery bite of judiciously placed rucola (rocket or arugula for our British and American readers) was truly magical.
Pastas also impressed our table. The lasagna al forno came out the way it should – bubbling hot from the oven, oozing cheese and tomato sauce, and melting perfectly on the tongue. The pappardelle al cinghiale transports you right to Tuscany in the fall, with thick noodles and toothsome boar meat. Not a meal for the vegetarians, but an excellent choice for the carnivore.
And speaking of carnivores, the osso bucco was a nice sized shank of meat falling off the bone, with a lovely reduction sauce and, of course, that delicious bite of marrow in the bone’s hollow.
There are desserts including tiramisu and daily tortas, but after our meals, we couldn’t find the room. They look good though…
…as does the Fornostaff, whose uniforms not only add to the elegance but also allow you to distinguish them from the equally attractive clientele. Service at Fornostar is an unexpected delight. The waiters, who seem to speak at least three languages (including English), circulated regularly and stopped to help us every time we made eye contact.
Booking a table in advance is recommended. We were turned away twice before looking up Fornostar’s website – which, with its long loop of a crackling fire, can be used to create a romantic mood at home – for their reservations number. We recommend you keep on calling until they say yes. Try the pizza, try the pasta, try some carne and vino. Try it all and feel sexy.
Starters 8 -14 €
Pizzas 11 – 16 €
Main dishes 11 – 21 €