George Germon and Johanne Killeen share a celebrated restaurant, a cookbook, and a common interest and flair for country French and rustic Italian cuisines. And both share a background which began in fine arts, a sensibility which informs their cooking every day.
A talented sculptor and potter with an architectural bent, George Germon taught at the Rhode Island School of Design program in Italy, where he spent a lot of his time in trattorias. Returning to Providence, he slowly made the transition from art to food. Working in a restaurant he had helped design, he met Killeen — who had likewise spent time in Italy as an artist, likewise enjoying the trattoria scene — and they fell in love in the heat of the kitchen.
Germon and Killeen reveal their sense of design in the proportion and color of their restaurant. Inspired by the raised-hearth fireplaces in the Italian trattorias, he designed Al Forno — which means ‚“from the oven‚” — around its open-flame grill. The oven is fueled with a variety of woods, which are integral to the flavors of the various dishes. Al Forno´s nationally acclaimed signature dish is grilled pizza, with its smoky, crisp crust studded with everything from home-grown tomatoes to goat cheese.
Germon and Killeen won the James Beard Award as Best Chefs, Northeast, in 1993. Al Forno has received the Hall of Fame Award from Nation´s Restaurant News, and has been called the Number One restaurant in the U.S. for casual dining, winning these and numerous other awards over the years.