Al Forno

by Jenn (eating bender) on February 22, 2011

Al forno is an Italian phrase that describes something that is at or from the oven.

I think Presidents’ Day banana bread fits that description quite nicely. :)

Bobby has been requesting that our overripe bananas be put to good use for weeks now. In honor of his day off yesterday, I whipped up a loaf and as usual was not disappointed by Nicole’s recipe.

Of course, it was only right that I test it myself! I chose my favorite piece – the crust!

I’m dreaming of future pairings with almond butter and jam.

Keeping with the theme, Jill and I found a new restaurant to love over the weekend. We met a friend in Wicker Park for coffee, then stumbled upon Francesca’s Forno and decided to dine there for lunch.

I found out after the fact that these are also the people behind The Purple Pig. No wonder I was a fan! Upon being seated, we were greeted with a sensational breakfast drink menu that included various mimosas and a Bloody Mary.

I decided to quench my thirst with the latter. Hey, you only live once!

Not including the Bloody Mary that Papa Bender makes, this was the best I’ve ever had! It had the perfect balance of tomato and spice, with celery salt around the rim and a beer chaser that was also very smooth. Now if only I could recreate this at home!

For my entrée, I went with a brunch menu item: the vegetarian skillet. Basically, it was scrambled eggs with sautéed vegetables, but that would certainly not be doing this dish justice. I don’t know if it was the type of oil or spices they used, but each bite permeated my mouth with rich flavor. The mushrooms were my favorite part, but the green bell peppers came in as a close second.

I am drooling just thinking about this dish again. Jill kept laughing at me because I was in food bliss! She agreed that her Eggs Benedict was top notch and we vowed to return there again.

Wicker Park, in general, was an amazing place to explore. It’s an area of Chicago that I can barely say I’ve visited, but I really want to know more about it. Perhaps when the weather gets warmer, we’ll take a day to walk everywhere.

Until then, I know where I can find delicious breakfast – as well as perfect coffee.

If you are visiting the area, go to The Wormhole. I had their vanilla bean latte and could have gone back for three more. What can I say? I’m a sucker for those perfect designs they make with the milk. :)

Bonus: the coffee shop has a television area with old school Nintendo. We were able to watch people play Super Mario Bros. 3 while we chatted! I am determined to play that game again soon. Talk about nostalgia! If you enjoyed Super Mario Bros. 3 once upon a time, then you will love this video.

All in all, a great long weekend.

How was YOUR weekend? Did you have Presidents’ Day off? If so, what did you do?


1 Salah February 22, 2011 at 9:28 am

I’m drooling at work right nnow over that bread….looks so absolutely amazing!!!

2 Melissa @ Chocolate & Kisses February 22, 2011 at 9:28 am

I love banana bread! Looks great! :-)

3 VeggieGirl February 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

Sounds incredibly delicious!

4 Megan (Braise The Roof) February 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

You know, I don’t go to Wicker Park very often either! I always feel like it’s so far away, but I know it isn’t. :) Thanks for the reviews!

5 Erica February 22, 2011 at 9:51 am

What a great weekend! The bread looks SO yummy. There really is nothing like homemade bread (I just made a loaf of applesauce bread ;)). And brunch out! My favorite. The scrambled eggs with sautéed vegetables looks delicious- what a cool offering. Our weekend was great but neither of us had Monday off

6 annie February 22, 2011 at 11:55 am

oooo yummy!!!

7 cbrady3 February 22, 2011 at 12:08 pm

That looks like one of the best restaurant breakfasts I’ve seen in a while! It’s hard to find a place that will serve you a decent amount of veggies:)

I didn’t have yesterday off, but did have a great weekend with friends!

8 Amanda February 22, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Wicker Park is my favorite neighborhood in Chicago! You must go again and again!

9 Lauren February 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Mmmm, now I seriously want some banana bread. 😉

10 sarah (sarah learns) February 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm

that coffee is beautiful! :) i LOVE super mario brothers! my fiance has a super nintendo – i might ask him to bust it out soon so we can play.

11 BroccoliHut February 22, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Well I just expanded my Italian vocabulary:)

12 Melissa @ TryingToHeal February 22, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Mmmm…banana bread! i just made some muffins with chocolate chips and walnuts myself! so tasty!

and love that veggie platter with the eggs! my kind of meal!

13 Jason @ Shutter&Saute February 23, 2011 at 7:02 am

I love that the bloody mary comes with a beer chaser… Surprisingly never seen that before.

14 Tracey February 23, 2011 at 10:16 am

Wicker Park is such a good foodie area. I went on a food tour of the area last year and the variety in the restaurants is fantastic! Walking around the area makes for a great afternoon.

15 MarathonVal February 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm

That’s so random, before I clicked on the post, just after I read the title “al forno” the first thing I thought of was Francesco’s Forno! Mike and I went there one winter and it was snowing and something about the layout of the restaurant and how it juts out into that weird 5 way intersection, it was a cool moment :)

It’s fun to visit that neighborhood but we always come home and are thankful to live in our quieter, more chill South Loop!

16 Gabriela @ Fro-Yo Lover February 25, 2011 at 8:51 pm

YUUUUUUUUUUM – everything looks so amazing!
I’ve never had such a beautiful coffee in my life, hahaha 😉

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