Our Pick: Il Forno, 122 Nogalitos St., (210) 616-2198, ilfornosa.com
From the looks of it, you might not guess this humble little shop tucked away near Southtown’s Nogalitos/Flores/Cevallos intersection cranks out some of the best pies in town. Pulling up to the restaurant, the place looks rustic, even a little feral, with lush gardens and wooden posts that fence off the patio area. When you walk inside, the unmistakable and inviting aroma of wood-fired dough from Il Forno’s signature hand-made oven hits you. There’s some deep knowledge behind the pies here. To lead the kitchen, owner and chef Michael Sohocki, the dude behind Restaurant Gwendolyn and Kimura, tapped none other than Jason Garcia (a Gwendolyn, Ocho, and Dough Pizzeria alum), whose small staff uses fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and house-cured meats as toppings. Not only does the place offer what amounts to insanely affordable specialty pizzas, Garcia & co. are genuinely pleasant people to be around, which makes dining at Il Forno a laid-back, delicious experience. Plus, the crew loves to spread their pizza knowledge, occasionally hosting dough-throwing and mozzarella-making classes for interested eaters. Pies to the people.