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Is Fornino Park Slope Closed for Good?

Fornino opened on Fifth Avenue between Garfield and Carroll Streets with much fanfare in early 2010, and the triple-wide storefront, home to a bar area, main dining room, and take-out (later Polpette) sections made it one of the largest restaurants in the neighborhood, by far. It was incredibly popular when it opened, in the space that was originally home to former owner Michael Ayoub's first restaurant, Cucina, it for a time appeared to anchor the avenue's Restaurant Row, along with Al Di La.

A couple weeks ago, however, the restaurant unexpectedly closed up, and while signs in the front windows said that they'd be closed "for renovations [until February 4th] so we can gussie up the old doll," it hasn't reopened since, the tables are still set, and it appears as if no gussying up has actually taken place.

As with any business that closes "for renovations" but never actually does any, rumors are swirling. Supposedly the entire staff walked off the job last week, but I haven't been able to independently verify that.

There are a couple interesting details to report, though: One, the website is down (never a good sign), even though the phone line isn't, and two, a call to the Williamsburg Fornino, which isn't officially connected to this one any more, revealed that the hostess "heard that they're closed for good," but she couldn't elaborate further.

So what exactly is going on at Fornino? If anyone has heard any definitive facts, leave them in the comments section below. But with no confirmation one way or the other, I have a feeling this will be one of those "wait and see" situations. And while I don't want to come out and call this one closed for good without 100% proof, I have a very strong feeling that they've served their last grilled pizza.

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Reader Comments (37)

I walked by last week and there was a notice from ConEd taped to door saying that the power would be shut off on March 7th if they didn't receive payment. I didn't have my phone to take a photo, but I'm guessing it's not looking good for them.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterOmm2L

You all know Michael Ayoub sold out of the business months ago, right? Apparently his brother was part owner and they don't get along too well. They had a spat, Michael sold out and walked, and I'm sure took a piece of the soul of the restaurant with him. Too bad as I really liked the place. I actually work with someone who waited tables there back in the Cucina days and knew of the tumultuous relationship between the brothers then.

I'd say it's done...and likely the fault of Michael's greedy brother. A real shame.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFelton

A quick note to Dan's credit, I didn't read the link but he, of course, covered the change in ownership when it happened. I just don't think it was nearly as amicable as they tried to make it sound.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFelton

it is usually a bad idea to open a huge restaurant. you just need to many clients to stay in the black.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterfreddie

FORNINO - Stick a fork in it.... IT'S OVER...

Actually ran into a couple who are close to the owner and they've have visited Fornino over 50 times to their account. They were puzzled as to why it went dark.

I mentioned to them that "Word on the street" is that the Entire staff walked out on them. And they mentioned that by knowing the owner, this sudden closure seemed quite strange to them.

That said, all-in-all I would say they're done.... Plus, there are too many competitors around them with smaller overhead and better product which basically puts the final nail in the coffin for them.

(On the Joking Side) Maybe Dale Talde can take-over the space. Possibly a larger "Pork Slope" I guess.... That's alot of pork sammiches you gotta sell though to clear the rent/overhead.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJust Shlopin

Actually, I am perplexed that many people are surprised that Fornino's is/or may be closing. Maybe folks don't live close by and see night after night the restaurant and bar sparsely populated. I knew this was happening months ago just from walking by after work or heading out at night. I can't believe it lasted this long. The icing on the cake for me was when I noticed a sign a few weeks ago offering some sort of Pizza and unlimited beer and wine for $20 between 11-1 am. If you need to run a special during those hours, well business can't be good.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJIm

The question I have, then, is why? It was initially quite popular. I ate at the bar a few times and the food was great. Was that initial popularity just unsustainable? Or did the ownership change really have and effect on the food, and therefore, the customer base?

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFelton

Their pizza, though distinctive, was not particularly good and far from worth it -- unlike at the Williamsburg location. I would've gone there all the time if they'd stuck with Neapolitan, but for some reason they decided to eat it.

If you want to succeed in the restaurant business, your customers should be eating it, not you.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLarse vaunt Rear

The food was TERRIBLE!!! That's why it's closing! And the interior looks like a restaurant found in a suburban mall! Too bad because the Fornino in Williamsburg was and continues to be good.

This place was a disaster from day one. The decor was especially bad and those pizzas were GOD AWFUL!

We have better pizza all over the place like Franny's and Brooklyn Central and Giuseppina's. That's why they are closing, they have an inferior product.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersterling

I totally agree on the pizza, but I had some enjoyable meals there. The pastas, specials (I recall a nice lamb shank) weren't bad. Ah, anyway, let's just hope something moves in quickly. Talk about an eye sore...

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFelton


The pasta dishes at Al Di La (a few feet away) are far better and no more expensive. I could never get over the terrible decor.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersterling

reminded me of a glorified olive garden. had the pizza once, thought it was absolutely gross. i'll take my giuseppina's any day of the week. or hell, toby's is 1000's time better than this place too. i don't eat pasta out unless it's something special like al di la or franny's.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlisa

Only really liked the fried green beans, and they got rid of those some time ago.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterACM

It's not very good pizza. It can border on passable if you're sitting at the restaurant. Get it for take-out or delivery and forget it - it does not sit well.

The Billyburg Fornino is MUCH better.

See? Not everything in the North Slope is great. Of course, in South Shitsville, this is the stuff of dumpster diving dreams.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSLOPE WARZ

Place was bad all around, no surprise here. fyi, Shake shack is confirmed for the furniture house space across the street from the arena. Could be part of the reason 5guys gave up on the spot by the Q stop. I would say 67 burger should be on notice.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterstellas groove

I didn't like the pizza here, but I'm surprised that it (may have) closed when other mediocre to terrible places hang on month after month. See Piquant.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterd

But, but.. Polpette! Home of the meatball! I will miss that. It was a great delivery alternative to the slew of Thai, Thai and Thai places.


February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrooklyn Paul

The meatballs at Terroir down the block are 10 times better, Paul.

Polpette was not good. Neither was Fornino. I will not miss either.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbret

Polpette always seemed to me like the type of gimmick that Gordon Ramsay would have concocted to try to save an obviously failing restaurant on Kitchen Nightmares.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermattlaw74

As previous commentors have pointed out, the decor was terrible and the food was average, pizza being sub-average. But the service was also horrible, I went in with a four top at 9pm on a Saturday and the servers all but pushed us on the door. They were rude and could not wait to get rid of us, at a time when most normal restaurants would expect clients on a Saturday night. That turned us all off for good, its no wonder they were empty if they treated paying customers like a annoyance.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterparkersdp

FORNINO PARK SLOPE has no relation to the Williamsberg one. Michael Ayoub was original owner. He parted ways almost exactly two years ago from his infamous brother, as the previous commentor said.
Park Slope is done!
Wish them all well

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLITTLE BIRDIE

Maybe we should petition Michael White, or someone of that ilk, to come save the space. Gabe Stulman, are you listening? You can't have all your restaurants in the east village.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFelton

While I've had some enjoyable meals at Fornino, I'd be lying if I said that I never thought the space was deserving of an establishment of a higher caliber. I hope that this opens the door for something new and exciting to open on 5th. Alleged "sprucing up" aside, the place is pretty turn-key in that someone could probably do a major interior decorating reno and be open within 5 weeks. The place was poorly decorated, but the infrastructure was modern and well kept.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMan of both Slopes

This is one of the few spots in PS that has the space for something really exciting-fingers crossed.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJbob

"This is one of the few spots in PS that has the space for something really exciting"

- Olive Garden
- iHop
- Denny's
- Golden Corral

They can handle the rent AND the size of the space..... But it'll be a quick demise for "Dizzy's" on the death corner if one of the later 3 move-in....

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJust Shlopin

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