Brunch Guide: Forno

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive
Bloody Mary

Italian-leaning Forno - a large establishment surprisingly adept at cocktails and contemporary bistro-style fare - recently made the "100 Hottest Restaurants in America" list compiled by OpenTable. The title of that list is especially fitting because this snazzy-but-casual hot spot borrows its name from its enormous, wood-fired brass oven ("forno" is Italian for "oven"). The multi-spaced place also features bright orange accents, gargantuan lamp shades and windows galore on one side of its oven, and icy blue hues, mirrors and a more "chill" atmosphere in the facing room. Bonus: a small but coveted Short North patio.

The Bloody Mary, $5 with a brunch entree; $10 otherwise

This distinct quaff with a cooked-tomato-sauce sweetness embellished by garlic and herbs and tweaked by a measured spiciness is the undisputed champion of garnishes on this list. The skewered first-course includes pickled chilies and olives, plus the hot-and-cool yin-and-yang of a hefty hunk of spicy capicola countered by a big knob of fresh mozzarella.

Savory: Brunch Brasato, $11

Put simply, Forno's lusty brunch brasato - a breakfast twist on the classic Italian dish calledbrasato al Barolo - is a meat-and-sauce lover's dream meal. Delivered in a miniature cast-iron pan, it features impossibly tender and juicy pot roast-like beef completely submerged in and married to the zingy red wine and tomato sauce in which it's cooked ("brasato" is Italian for "braised"). Gilding the lily, and effectively supplying another sauce, is the soft yolk of an egg hidden under the Parmesan cheese-sprinkled braising liquids. A crusty loaf of warm sourdough bread is included for sopping-up purposes.

Sweet: Nutella-stuffed French Toast, $12

As with Forno's brasato, the ingredients in this dish belong together. A slathering of Nutella is sandwiched between thick, crisp and yolk-yellow French toast pieces amped up with warm banana slices, just enough syrup, whipped cream, and - echoing the Nutella (the famed Italian hazelnut and cocoa spread) - crackly, ground and toasted hazelnuts.


If you're cutting loose and "WTF" captures your brunching mood - hey, it happens - you can choose the special "drink-and-drown" option: five mimosas for $20 (Uber not included).


721 N. High St.,

Short North