CIAO, WOODLAND HILLS!
From impeccable hospitality and an intoxicating atmosphere to classic Italian recipes entrenched in a legacy of tradition, Il Fornaio brings its modern yet rustic dining experience to The Village at Westfield Topanga.
Monday, October fifth was no ordinary date…at least not in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. A favorite amongst Italian restaurant aficionados everywhere, Il Fornaio officially said “Benvenuto!” to The Village at Westfield Topanga when it opened the doors of its 22nd location at the new central shopping, dining, events, entertainment and leisure gathering place. The first element patrons will note upon stepping through Il Fornaio’s doors at The Village is the intoxicating, steeped-in-Italian heritage atmosphere exuded by the celebrated restaurant, followed by an impeccable sense of hospitality as practiced by its staff. To say Il Fornaio takes pride in ensuring guests experience the very best the restaurant has to offer is something of a gross understatement – here, the freshest of ingredients couple with an unyielding refusal to sacrifice cost for quality. And that’s merely scratching the proverbial surface of what Il Fornaio at The Village at Westfield Topanga is all about.
Bringing a modern yet rustic Italian dining experience to L.A.’s San Fernando Valley, lead chef Guiseppe DiMola offersIl Fornaio patrons signature dishes infused with a modern twist, utilizing more than 35 years of experience in the professional culinary arts. Since 2002, chef DiMola has reigned supreme as the executive chef of Il Fornaio’s Beverly Hills location, even being awarded Chef of the Year by the restaurant’s corporate division in 2010. As he himself puts it, “Our mission has always been to provide our guests with the most authentic Italian experience outside the lush, Mediterranean-esque shores of Italy. By cooking with the freshest ingredients and traditional culinary techniques, Il Fornaio’s new Woodland Hills location will offer a variety of premium-quality Italian specialties, expanded upon with top-shelf wine and cocktail selections.”
Entering Il Fornaio’s dining room has been described by many food critics and restaurant reviewers as being akin to stepping foot inside a lavishly-appointed Italian renaissance-like palace; from the onset, patrons will be swept far away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles’ busy streets just outside when they set eyes on the terra cotta tile flooring, brown leather-covered booths and solid wooden tables made from reclaimed oak. Among the myriad of focal points in the dining room space are a steel and glass refrigerated wine wall, traditional Italian pizza oven, industrial light fixtures hanging throughout and sleek tableside lighting slits. The 12-seat bar area – boasting an adjacent wood island made from a single tree trunk – meanwhile, serves as a main feature of the 6,000 square-foot restaurant, and guests can even enjoy an outdoor patio complete with built-in fire pits and which seats an additional 20 people.
Of course, what would a genuine, classically-oriented Italian eatery be without its copiously-designed menu? Il Fornaiodoesn’t buck this trend, offering classic antipasti selections such as the Calamari Fritti baby squid, lightly floured and deep fried, served with spicy marinara, as well as Minestre e Insalate items like the vegan Minestrone and Insalata di Bietole featuring organic red and gold beets with red wine vinegar, wild arugula, toasted walnuts and Asiago cheese, all supplemented by a lemon-olive oil dressing. Piatti Unici – “unique dishes” – represent perfect one-plate meals for lunch at Il Fornaio, such as the Insalata di Tonno, served as sushi-grade ahi tuna with a baby arugula salad and couscous, tomatoes, red onions, capers and raisins.
Macaroni lovers can indeed rejoice at Il Fornaio’s latest Woodland Hills location, what with all fresh pastas made on-site, including fan favorites like the Ravioli alla Lucana, a spinach ravioli stuffed with Italian sausage, ricotta, Grana Padano and fennel, which is then topped with fresh tomatoes, spicy tomato sauce with imported pepperoncino, pecorino pepato cheese and fresh basil. In looking towards the central hearth of the bustling kitchen, pizza enthusiasts will delight to learn that Il Fornaio’s pizza oven will be churning out hundreds of thin-crust Sicilian-style variants such as the Cristina, loaded with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, shaved Grana Padano, mushrooms and wild arugula and drizzled with white truffle oil. In offering a taste of Il Fornaio’s “Tuscan essence,” the Pollo Toscano free-range chicken entrée comes seasoned with rosemary and is served with sautéed seasonal vegetables and roasted potatoes.
To complete the dining experience – while satisfying more than a few sweet tooth cravings – a remarkable variety of desserts reside on the Il Fornaio menu, all made on premises and which include standouts such as a traditional Tiramisu and Soffiato al Cioccolato (a warm almond-hazelnut chocolate cake topped with caramel sea salt gelato). Additionally, a large craft beer selection unique to the new Woodland Hills location is available, along with a wine list that highlights a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence-winning selection of Italian and Californian red, white and sparkling variants. The restaurant’s full bar offers signature cocktails that include the Rye Smash Bulleit Rye, Luxardo Maraschino and the Italian Renaissance Maker’s Mark.
Founded in Italy in 1972, Il Fornaio owns and operates 22 full-service Italian restaurants in California, Denver, Seattle, Las Vegas and Reston, Virginia. The new Woodland Hills location is situated at The Village at Westfield Topanga, 6320 Topanga Canyon Boulevard, with operating hours running Sunday through Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm and Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm. For more information visit www.IlFornaio.com.