So, since places are offering a 3-course meal for the cost of one of their regular entrees, I’ve decided to take as much advantage of Saratoga restaurant week as I can.  First up:  Forno Bistro and Max London’s

 

Forno Bistro

http://www.fornobistro.com/menu/dinner-menu

I had heard that this place had the best pizza in town, and previous attempts at trying it were thwarted by lack of parking.  So by getting there relatively early, and on a Sunday, I finally got to try the place. 

First course:  insalata mista – mixed greens, roasted cherry tomatoes, Grana Padano, balsamic vinaigrette.  A good salad.  It is so very difficult to create a great salad, isn’t it?

Second course: pizza Bianca – white pizza with good olive oil, chicken, spinach and herbs.  The toppings were very well done, and the olive oil added a nice mouth-filling quality to the cheeses.  But still the crust…   Why can’t I find a perfect pizza crust in this town?

Dolci:  zeppolini – beignets with flavored whipped cream for dipping?  Sure!  I kept thinking about the opening scene of Amadeus while I was eating these.

The physical layout of the restaurant seems nice, though I couldn’t actually see too much of it, since I was seated in a small (tiny, actually) area curtained off from the main dining room.

 

Max London’s

http://www.maxlondons.com/

 

I had been here once before, having a very happy experience with the appetizer, a “meh” experience with the pizza, and a “WTF?” moment when finding out I had been charged by the glass (at $2.50 a pop) for iced tea.  So this time, I stuck to the entrees and the alcohol, and had a very good meal.

 

First course:  bolinhos – I had never tried salt cod before, but long ago I read that it was, like bacon and sushi, something that was originally created out of necessity to preserve meat and then continued because of its flavor.  So when I saw “salt cod-potato fritters” on the menu, I jumped at the chance to try them.  When the three little golden brown balls showed up in a sort of cast iron dish, my first impression was “arancini!”  They do resemble each other in size, shape, color, and in this case, saucing.  And they are hot out of fryer.  But that’s where the resemblance ends.  The texture is completely different.  The bolinhos are much softer (made from mashed potatoes instead of rice), and seem to tear more than cleave when you bite them.  Excellent flavor, with a spicy-citrus sauce and no amine taste.

Second course:  chicken with 40 cloves – I was a bit hesitant about trying a dish that is so easy to make at home, but this was very good.  Fortunately, they left a bread basket so I could smear the roasted garlic cloves on them before dipping into olive oil.  I don’t know if that’s an acceptable thing to do in a restaurant, but that’s the way I do things at home.  The chicken leg quarter was yummy, though the skin was just for show.  The real star was the risotto, made from unhulled red arborio cooked until the rice was still crunchy, and topped with quartered Brussels sprouts.  Is it just me, or have Brussels sprouts gotten much better in the last decade?

Dessert:  chocolate-caramel tart – It’s a shallow mini tart, kind of a hard shortcrust, with a layer of caramel and a layer of chocolate.  How bad could it be?  Nothing that I’d ever order again, though.

So this time proved that the kitchen staff can turn out some really good dishes.  Still, something about this place just doesn’t seem welcoming to me as a solo diner.  This is definitely a place to take your date.  Relax her with the sleek warm modern interior space, whet her appetite with some excellent tapas, lower her inhibitions with a few drinks, demonstrate your financial might by dropping a bill over dinner…

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