While many of us daydream about picturesque Italy and its beautiful landscape, it’s not easy to drop everything, hop on a plane, and escape to the romantic Mediterranean country. Thankfully, there’s Al Forno, a new wood-oven trattoria nestled in Zaitunay Bay where you can savor the flavors of authentic Italia in a rustic countryside setting.

Allow yourself to be transported to the old village, with original terracotta tiles; inverted basket lampshades; Italian ceramic pottery for the olio, aceto, sale e pepe (that’s olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper); and a conventional wood-fired oven where fresh pizza and focaccia are baked minuto!

As you contemplate the culinary delights on offer, you’ll be treated to soft focaccia bread, aromatic with rosemary and roasted garlic and wonderfully complemented by marinara and olive-anchovy tapenade. Now that your appetite is whetted, here’s how you might steer this feast.

Warm your belly with the zuppa di funghi, a creamy forest and porcini mushroom soup that silkily caresses your palate and contrasts impeccably with the crunchy garlic bread served alongside it.

The arncini di riso are Al Forno’s signature risotto-mushroom croquettes. Dip them in the herbed marinara and relish how they gush softly with melted Italian mozzarella once you sink your teeth into them.

Without pasta, your experience would be incomplete, so be sure to sample one of Al Forno’s seven fresh varieties, ranging from fettuccini, linguini, spaghetti, lasagna, and penne to the lesser-known malformati and monachelle. Opt for the malformati con polpette, a uniquely-shaped pasta cooked with homemade beef meatballs in a zesty tomato sauce and topped with Al Forno’s special pangrattato breadcrumbs.

Prepare to be enamored with the pizza here, as it features very light, crispy dough that miraculously holds up even the most unwieldy of toppings! The Favorita promises to indeed become your favorite, replete with tomato sauce, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoni, black olives, rosemary, and—wait for it!—shoestring fries. It is divine. Another sensation is the snake-shaped Sfilatino, a twisted and folded pizza stuffed with mozzarella, goat cheese, fresh spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, is brushed with a coat of garlic butter and dusted with aged Parmesan.

Saved room for dessert? Don’t dream of ending your meal without a classic tiramisu layered delicately inside a martini glass. Savoiardi biscuits soaked in coffee are enrobed with velvety mascarpone, and the cocoa powder topping is crowned with fresh strawberries and mint leaves. Coffee meets dessert in this decadent dolce.

So when you find yourself yearning for the true Italian spirit, the hustle and bustle of an open cucina, and the hearty, generous fare from the heartland of Italy, don’t waver. Let your compass guide you to Al Forno trattoria, where a feast of grand proportions awaits you.


Zaitunay Bay
Beirut, Lebanon

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