July 2nd, 2016
Not much tastes better than pizza after sitting in holiday traffic for hours. We had one more stop for pizza in Providence, so we drove out to Rhode Island to Al Forno. We actually drove out to Newport (mainly for this), but stopped in Providence on the way for lunch.
The restaurant has been open since 1980, and is situated in an old stable near the waterfront. While they serve plenty of Italian food, the pizza is what everyone talks about. Primarily because Al Forno serves a completely unique style of pizza. I mean, just look at it! Does that look like any pizza that you’ve had before?
Al Forno is considered the birthplace of grilled pizza. The owners wanted to take advantage of their wood-fired grill, so they used it to cook the pizza dough as hot and as fast as possible. The result is an unusually shaped dough with visible charred grill lines, which they top with a variety of toppings.
We love making pizza on the grill, but we had never seen a restaurant grill pizza before! We tried two pizzas here, the “spicy” Margarita and the Tuscan Kale Pesto. Overall, the flavors were great and we loved the grilled crust. Our one complaint was that the pizzas were a bit on the oily side. The amount of cheese and tomato on top was perfect and not too heavy, but the oil really ruined the light taste. We looked into the crust itself a bit more (so that we could perfect our pizza grilling technique at home) and found that the dough here is hardly proofed, which helps it to keep its structure over the grill. The dough is also soaked in olive oil before being put on the grill to keep it crispy.
You should note that the pizzas are actually considered appetizers here, although we (and many others) obviously order them as main dishes. We also ordered the bruschetta to start. You should note that bruschetta here is not served with tomatoes. It is really just thick, Italian bread covered with a generous portion of olive oil and garlic. More like garlic bread to us? The waitress assured us that this is the “most traditional” form of bruschetta. Turns out, she’s right, but we prefer the non-traditional kind with tomatoes.
Overall, we liked these pizzas a lot, but mainly for their individuality. It was really nice to sit outside and enjoy them, but they didn’t make it to the top of our lists.
We did take away some handy tips to use for grilling our own pizzas, though! Which we can put to use now since Eric finally bought himself a grill.
577 South Water Street
Providence, RI 02903