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South Campus Gateway, LLC.

Photos by Megan Leigh Barnard

Italian-Ate

Forno actually started out as just an idea for a simple, great pizza place in the Short North.
From there, like so many toppings, the team at Corso Ventures started piling up the extras.
The popular concept at Buttles and High seems like it shouldn’t work on paper: upbeat music, high-energy and upscale; simultaneously casual, comfortable, and light on dress code.
But it does work—and no better proof is evident than during its Friday, 4-6 p.m. happy hour(s). It’s an approachable after-work spot where everyone belongs, but one where you still might be better off putting in a rezo—especially if you can’t ditch the office early to soak up the value of nearly half-off everything.

 


Corso Director of Operations Reed Woogerd relishes the responsibility of balancing Forno’s dual identity, all while upping the ante by putting the entire operation on display throughout the space’s wide-open bar and kitchen layout.
It all appears relatively effortless to the naked eye, but we know otherwise. We pulled up a stool with Woogerd to find out what the Forno staff (led by GM Andrea Worthington and Executive Chef Branden Weigel) is tasked with cooking up on a daily basis:\

They let the decor (and atmosphere) decide itself.
“We knew that we needed to serve more than just pizza if we wanted to achieve this hybrid concept, where you could share a few pizzas, apps, and cocktails with friends at happy hour or even come in for date night or a business dinner. When we started to uncover some of the existing charms of the space (such as the original white terrazzo floor and the vault from when it was a bank some 100 years ago, which we converted into a walk-in cooler), it became clear that the space should have a vintage-Italian, yet modern and classy Short North vibe—without being stuffy. We’re serving pizza, after all.”

Forno puts two faces forward.
“We have an amazing happy hour where almost everything on the menu is half-off and our brunch crowds have been unreal. During the week it feels like a fun neighborhood restaurant and on the weekends it’s definitely the place to be. Our neighborhood is growing at an unbelievable rate and we want to be able to continue to give people what they want.”

Experience is everything—but, it’s nothing without quality.
“Everything is house-made. We hand mix and stretch our dough every day. We import only San Marzano tomatoes for our sauce; the quality of every ingredient matters. The kitchen is wide open to the dining room and the hustle and bustle of High Street is framed in by floor to ceiling windows. We want to provide the best customer service in the city, but we also want to put on ‘the show.’”

They’re not afraid to add more ingredients to the mix.
“Rounding out the concept has mostly meant rounding out the menu, recently adding some fun shared plates such as roasted spreadable garlic served with house bread, steamed mussels … burrata with heirloom cherry tomatoes and aged sherry vinaigrette. It’s not just about pizza anymore.” •

 

Forno is located at 721 N High St.
For more, visit fornoshortnorth.com

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Travis Hoewischer

I've been working in journalism in central Ohio for more than a decade, and have been lucky enough to be a part of (614) Magazine since the very first issue. Proud to live in a city that still cares – and still reads.

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