Michael Moriarty and his wife Ruth are obsessed with Italian food. It’s what led them to open Il Forno on Courthouse Lane in Tralee last year. This wood-fired pizzeria has since brought a taste of authentic Italian cuisine to the town.
Michael was previously the general manager in Roxy Records and in Aldi in Tralee. It was only when he met Ruth that he became interested in Italian food. The pair often visit Italy together and especially love the food of Naples.
“Nothing compares with authentic Neapolitan pizza cooked in the traditional way,” says Michael. “We had nothing like that in Tralee so we decided to make it possible.”
They did this by sourcing a wood-fired oven in Florence, the finest produce from all over Italy and, most importantly of all, two chefs from Naples.
“We have Marguerite and Marco, a mother and son, working here with us and their food brings Italy to life right here in Tralee,” says Michael.
[pull_quote_center]These chefs cook to the highest of Italian standards. They make their pizza dough using only the finest Italian flour, yeast, water and salt, all mixed to a traditional Neapolitan recipe. That dough is allowed to rest and is then topped with the best Italian artisan ingredients.[/pull_quote_center]
They don’t just cook pizza. The menu at Il Forno also includes salads, pastas and risottos as well as main courses such as salmon, chicken and steaks; all cooked and seasoned as they would be in Italy. “We make as much as we can ourselves and we cook everything to traditional Italian recipes,” says Michael. “From our starters to desserts; it’s all made in house.”
Since opening, they have also introduced a special menu for people interested in losing weight. “So many people in Tralee are taking an interest in their health now,” says Michael. “So we collaborated with a nutritionist at a local gym to put together a menu that is designed especially for anyone who wants to get and stay fit.”
The menus at Il Forno even include options for those with dietary needs. They go so far as to make their own gluten-free pasta and to offer vegan cheese.
Michael already has plans for improvement. He’s begun to offer pizza-making parties for children and has just started renovating the upstairs part of his premises. This area has the potential to seat another 70 people but it won’t be a simple extension of what’s on offer downstairs. Michael intends for it to be very much its own thing.
“We’ll show old movies on a projector up there,” he says. “We’ll have live music and comedy nights. We’ll hold private parties.”
The plan is to open upstairs in the next few weeks and to offer a variation of the menu available downstairs. “We’ll have antipasti plates of meat, cheese or vegetables and large pizzas to share as well as wines and bottled beers,” says Michael.
Il Forno is not yet a year old but it’s already transforming the dining scene in Tralee.
[quote_box_center]For more information on Il Forno, visit their website.[/quote_box_center]