We had the good fortune of connecting with Ali Kihanmahd and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ali, why did you pursue a creative career?
I could never see myself in a traditional 9-5 job behind a desk. I was always looking for a creative outlet to express myself, first it was film, than music and now cooking.
What should our readers know about your business?
Al Forno caffe is my latest stepping stone in a long career in restaurant business that started in 1987. My wife and I moved to southern California in 2012 and I was amazed how the restaurant industry is dominated by chain restaurants. I opened Al Forno Caffe in 2014 to bring a little taste of the independent, chef driven Italian restaurants that I used to work at in NYC. It was not easy to convince people that there is more to Italian food than Alfredo sauce, Chicken Parmesan, and garlic sticks, but after almost seven years we have developed a loyal fan base that appreciates lesser known regional dishes from Sicily to Alto Adige. I use the same principal in my wine list selection as I do in my menu. Instead of just putting a few Chianti and Pinot Grigio on the list, we offer over 80 different varietals from all over Italy.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Bestia, DTLA, Los Angeles The Factory Kitchen, DTLA, Los Angeles Bread Lounge, DTLA, Los Angeles Proof Bakery, Los Angeles Urth Caffe, Los Angeles Verve Cafe, Los Angeles Grand Central Market, Los Angeles The Ennis House, Los Angeles Malibu Pier, Malibu
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First and foremost, I have to thank my wife for always encouraging me and then my family for helping me financially when I needed it.
Al Forno Caffe