Fornata is one of those places that you’ve probably walked past a lot. Its just behind Liberty’s and sat between two quite popular pubs. It could easily be mistaken for an Italian tourist trap; somewhere to get just a pizza after an afternoon going up and down Carnaby street.
But it’s not.
It dawned on us fairly quickly that it is a nice spot, especially on a rainless early evening, to grab a table and have a drink with a friend. You can snack on their aperitivo menu (or enjoy free nibbles with a cocktail) and later on opt for a full main meal.
We went just for their newest menu; a selection of ice cream based cocktails with an aperitivo menu to match – which suited an after work catch up perfectly.
The summer cocktail menu wasnt extensive, you have just the four to pick from, but it is a nice selection. Ranging from the refreshingly sharp Campari Sorbet (Campari, fresh orange juice and lemon sorbet) to the very sweet and almost non alcoholic tasting Sottobosco (Vodka, chambord, cranberry and strawberry ice cream topped with chocolate shavings). The latter described in the menu as ‘the perfect cocktail for a thirsty lady’. Guys, if that line puts you off then you’ll be happy to know it goes down so easily you can down it in one and order something more manly straight away! The Vanilla White Russian might then make up for it.
The Affogato al Limoncello was a curious cocktail, served with biscotti on the side and two big scoops of lemon sorbet – which proved to nicely tone down the sharpness of the limoncello as they melted. Clever.
I had read reviews that moaned about small portions at Fornata, I cant really pass judgement on the rest of the menu but what we saw on other peoples tables looked like good sized meals. With pizzas fresh from a stone oven the size that I would expect them to be. The aperitivo plates are indeed small but that is the point of aperitivo – they are little snacks. And as little snacks they were great. What they lacked in size they definitely made up for in taste and quality. I much prefer a smaller portion of something well made that tastes wholesome as opposed to a large portion of mediocrity. Maybe because they lack the pretentiousness that somehow adds validity to over pricing small portions and that leaves them in an awkward grey area between a casual european eatery and a nouveau italian kitchen.
If you want to be filled from the aperitivo menu whilst you enjoy your cocktails then plump for the Baked aubergine and melted cheese – a homely and decent starter portion or the mini pizza. The baked burger in pizza dough with pickles was a great combination and one to have to yourself if you want to fill up a bit.
For lighter bites the Goats cheese wrapped in courgette or the Buffalo mozarella wrapped in smoked cured meat are definite must haves. You get 3 pieces to a plate. Also if youjust want something to soak up those drinks I would be more adventurous than settling for the garlic bread and order the mozzarella in pizza dough.
Overall it was a nice experience, a great spot for a few drinks and light bites with lovely staff who kept the water topped up and were attentive but not pushy. We did see a couple of girls receive a couple of glasses of bubbly on the house as it was a birthday which was really nice. Plus my company was part Italian and she was impressed which is a definite good sign!