Cooking with wood fire has a preternatural, almost primal appeal. You could argue that as cavemen, it was our first foray into comfort food. The intense heat and smoke has the power to transform otherwise unassuming ingredients. The six-month old Fortina in Armonk, begins with this deceptively simple ethos–Italian food, cooked simply, in wood fired ovens–and elevates it with a thoughtful culinary execution and a familiar, if familial, disarming vibe.
“There is a complexity to the simplicity,” said Rob Krauss, one of Fortina’s three partners along with John Nealon and Christian Petroni, nailing what makes the restaurant’s cuisine tick. I’m fairly certain Krauss is also referring to the restaurant’s team, an extended family of sorts that works equally hard at the food as they do cultivating the culture at Fortina
More than the sum of its wood-fired parts, Fortina relies on the culinary prowess and Italian heritage of partner and Executive Chef Christian Petroni, formerly of Barcelona Greenwich, as both muse and ringleader. “My background is Italian, I grew up spending summers in Ponza. One of my favorite restaurants is Peasant. As a young cook, Frank de Carlo was an inspiration as a chef. I was intrigued by cooking in wood ovens. There is something about it that is so gratifying. It’s a beautiful thing.” Along with chef de cuisine Jodi Bernhard, formerly of Barcelona, the kitchen has the creative chops responsible for its daily printed menu.