Fornino, arguably New York City’s OG artisanal pizza chain, has had a bit of a checkered past. But it’s still going strong, and founder Michael Ayoub is readying to open a fourth location in the former Cow and Clover space (and before that, Mercado on Kent) at 291 Kent Ave. in Williamsburg.
Cow and Clover closed on March 20, writing on its website about its “newly formed partnership with the Fornino Restaurant Group.” It’s an interesting move, considering there’s already a Williamsburg Fornino just under a 15-minute walk away — but Ayoub was attracted to the ovens in this space, which includes the largest wood-burning oven in the city. “It’s quite a special spot,” he says.
Those ovens will be outputting the typical Fornino pizza-filled menu, but with the added benefit of the mini chain’s first full kitchen. That means pasta and other wood-fired mains, such as chicken parmesan, chicken cacciatore, and more. Ayoub is also planning to serve long-braised, off-cuts of pork, lamb, beef. The downstairs oven will anchor a bakery and the staging area for bread-making, sandwiches, antipasto, and breakfast.
Also expect a full bar, another first for Fornino, which is currently looking for someone to build out a cocktail program.
The 125-seat space at 291 Kent Ave. doesn’t need much work (Ayoub is an amateur glassblower, so he’s making the light fixtures, among other cosmetic changes), so look for a late April opening with lunch, dinner, and brunch available.