Il Forno Restaurant has served up traditional Italian home style cooking for over 18 years. Owners since 2004, Nazzareno (Naz) and his wife, Kristina, proudly embrace and share their Italian heritage, as both sets of parents migrated from Calabria and Sicily respectively in the late 50’s and early 60’s. The business really has become a family affair, with Naz's parent's, Elisa and Pasquale and sister, Carmel, all helping out where they can.
As soon as you step into Il Forno you get a real sense of Naz's Calabrian Australian upbringing. From the smell of fresh pizza dough to the old family portraits of generations past, you'll soon forget you’re in Hampton, Victoria. And this is exactly what Naz and Kristina have worked so hard to achieve.
“I want my customers to feel as though they've stepped into my home. And they do... one customer said he loved the atmosphere so much he would keep coming back until he’d tasted the whole menu.”
Naz purchased the business in early 2004 with a friend, and as a qualified chef, began working in the kitchen. He's managed to create a menu inspired by the food he grew up on and even cures his own Pancetta and Salami with this father, Pasquale, till this day. After discovering that his Grandfather milled his own grain, Naz became inspired to continue the tradition and now makes the freshest dough in town with grain he mills himself in-store. It’s extra steps like these that help Il Forno’s menu maintain the same traditional flavours Naz grew up on. He really does take pride in the dishes he serves his customers and what’s more, he loves to educate them about the food...
Even after Naz purchased his friends portion of the business he still manages to play a key role in the kitchen. One of the biggest obstacles Naz has had to overcome has been reopening Il Forno after the renovations they started in early 2010, which took almost a year longer than expected.
“…Every dish has a story behind it that needs to be told. So I make sure to tell it, and my regulars love it!”
When asked about his greatest achievement, Naz was quick to say "Getting married at forty-one!". After a bit of thought he said "I get a real sense of satisfaction when I see my customers share my passion for traditional home style Italian cuisine."
“It was a mixed bag of emotions to have finally opened after such a long time, and the support we received from our loyal customers really helped”.