Il Foro restaurant closes without warning

Despite the heavy hitters behind it, Il Foro lasted less than a year.

Despite the heavy hitters behind it, Il Foro lasted less than a year.

Add another to the list of suddenly closing high-end dining spots in Minneapolis. As of Sunday, Il Foro is gone, with no explanation as to why.

The downtown restaurant only opened last June, but was quickly recognized — including by City Pages — for sophisticated but approachable Italian cuisine. Anyone in the mood for something a little more down-home was bound to be charmed, or perhaps floored, by its cheeseburger, which took home the No. 4 spot on our 100 favorite dishes countdown.

The dining space itself was worth cherishing. Here's how our food critic Mecca Bos described it, and its tortured recent history, last November

The Forum Cafeteria space is an enchanted forest in the middle of the city. The greens that make up this soaring-ceilinged art deco wonder — Doublemint, evergreen, Army jeep, grasshopper pie — feel like all the greens, or at least the very best of the greens. The lush palette is magnified by wall mirrors that bevel into forever-land, reflecting infinite repetitions of themselves. Having this shuttered for any reason at all is a crying shame.

Which of course it was, over and over again, as it changed hands over the years from restaurateur to restaurateur. In the mid-'90s, it was home to Goodfellows — arguably the most important restaurant in town — back when fine dining and all of its trappings was in vogue. Then it briefly became Forum, a relative debacle of a place where rotating (and not very good) menus from around the country (New Orleans, Santa Fe, Ketchikan) were served. It didn't last. [Josh] Thoma and partners to the rescue.

Perhaps not.

Il Foro was the brainchild of successful restaurateurs Josh Thoma (La Belle Vie, Smack Shack), Jack Riebel (Butcher and the Boar), and Lorin Zinter (Heyday), and head chef Joe Rolle had recently made a name as a top talent at Borough.

Just why this combination of names couldn't make it work remains a mystery for now: An email issued to press said nothing more than they "will have no further comment" on Il Foro. 

The restaurant's website was effectively switched off immediately. "IL FORO IS NOW CLOSED," it says. "Thank you for your patronage."