Six years in Greenpoint, Fornino still delights — and will soon celebrate National Pizza and Beer Day on Oct 9!
In 2009, Frank Bruni interviewed pizzaioli Michael Ayoub for The New York Times, discussing that period’s culinary boom and craving for artisanal pizza. A decade later, Ayoub and his Italian restaurant Fornino (849 Manhattan Avenue) are still at the forefront of this movement.
Neo-Neapolitan, as Ayoub describes its culinrary style, Fornino has been a Greenpoint mainstay since 2013 but has also enjoyed some sibling locations: the waterfront gem in DUMBO (which on a busy night can go through a thousand pies) and an older, now-closed spot in the heart of Williamsburg. The Greenpoint location may not have a sweeping view of the East River, but it easily charms with its twinkly backyard during the warmer moths and its cozy interior warmed by the fire of the wood-burning oven. While the restaurant is often busy packing up to-go pies, half the fun is eating in person and seeing the crackling oven at work.
Everything is cooked in and around this hearth: the soft but filling meatballs, the wood-roasted brussel sprouts, and (naturally) the nearly 30 pizzas on the eclectic menu. Some varieties are more traditional faire (your margherita, your marinara), and others are more daring: the gorgonzola (comprised of the namesake cheese, rosemary, mozzarella, caramelized onions, and not a bit salty) or the copa e kale (spicy copa, stracciatella, truffle honey, pecorino). All delight and come out bubbling, served by an attentive staff.
Casual, family-friendly, and neat, Fornino also offers a wide variety of drinks from local beers to Italian wines. All this makes for a fine (and affordably priced) meal, but the main course may be more a feast for the eyes: an immense collection of hanging red orbs designed and crafted by Ayoub, who studied under the iconic glassblower Dale Chihuly. Glowing and magical, they are just another delicious creation of Ayoub’s — sadly, not edible.
Celebrate National Pizza and Beer Day on Wednesday, October 9 — enjoy any small pizza and a Brooklyn Brewery beer on draft for just $20 (dine-in guests only).