Forno pizza shop offers slice of home

A 12 inch caramelized onion and blue cheese pizza with fresh thyme, parmesan and extra virgin olive oil is pulled out of a wood-fired oven at Forno, a new pizza parlor in downtown Hollister. The pizza are all made with fresh ingredients and take one and a

Rico Felice has been making pizza since he was a toddler. In a way, he has been preparing for this week his entire life.
Felice this Thursday night planned to open a downtown pizzeria called Forno, named for the type of wood-fired oven used to make his pizzas. In starting the business, he is also bringing a taste of his family’s home country to his family’s hometown in Hollister. The Felice family is from Italy and has deep roots in San Benito County as well.
With the opening of Forno, meanwhile, Hollister will once again have a hometown pizza option that isn’t a chain restaurant.
“It’s definitely a necessity in this town,” Felice said.
From his downtown parlor, he stressed how he planned to use fresh, natural ingredients in the pizza-making process. He had two wood-fire ovens set up in the business—which will serve a Neapolitan style of pizza using tomatoes from the San Marzano region of Italy and fresh mozzarella—when he recently interviewed with the Free Lance about his desire to make pizza.
“It’s a passion,” said Felice, who has operated a wood-fire pizza catering business since 2007. “It’s something I love.”
Felice described his delicate preparation and cooking processes, such as the use of 715- to 720-degree ovens to cook the pies or personalized serving sizes, with each pizza at about 11.5 to 12 inches.
“It’s a heck of a meal for one person and it’s OK for two,” he said.
He said he uses fresh and roasted chicken, beef and turkey in his pizzas, what he called “better meat.” He slices the pepperoni thin, he said.
“I call it the adult pepperoni,” Felice said.
Additionally, Felice plans to offer calzones made with the pizza dough, ribs, hot wings and fresh pasta. He wants to eventually host events such as a lobster feed or clam bake, while he plans to work with other local businesses such as Calera Wine Co. in doing so, he said.
“It’s going to be an experience,” he said.
In opening the downtown business, Felice is bringing seven years of experience in catering to the pizzeria table. His Felice Forno catering business includes three rigs and serves parties with a minimum of 50 people.
The Felice Forno catering business served from the Downtown Farmers Market in Hollister in 2014.
“We’re excited that he’s opening a brick and mortar restaurant downtown,” said Brenda Weatherly, executive director of the Hollister Downtown Association, which runs the farmers market. “He was a much appreciated part of the farmers market. When he was there, people at the farmers market really enjoyed his food.”
BASICS ON FORNO:
Who: Forno Kitchen & Catering
What: Pizzaria/catering business
When: Open Tuesday-Friday
Where: 700 block of San Benito Street

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