Chris Falk, who was born and raised in Garberville, already owned the Chimney Tree Grill on the Street of the Giants when she started looking forward to the place next to the movie theater on Redwood Drive where the meals used to be. When the newly demolished space became available, I took the opportunity to design it for Il Forno Bakery (764 Redwood Drive, Garberville). “I felt for a long time that we needed a bakery in the area,” she says. Bread, if not in her training, is in her blood, as her mother worked for years at Just Desserts in San Francisco before returning to Humboldt and baking at Ramone’s.
Master baker Walter Chumley gets to work at 2 a.m. each day to fill boxes with eclairs, delightful mini pies, greasy whoopies and large, glossy croissants sometimes topped with almond or fruit and ricotta filling by 6 a.m. opening time. Low-fat buttermilk biscuits with honey and fig jam are quite satisfying with a flaky edge and a mushy middle. Traditional cannoli shells with chocolate chips and a sulfur-dotted ricotta filling break with that unmistakable muted crunch that must have been a word in Italian or ASMR. “It’s very classic,” Falk says.
There are more whimsical rotating specials, like donuts topped with chopped Skor bars (a dessert to say the least), tea from Humboldt Herbals and specially blended coffee for Il Forno from Signature Coffee in Redway. For lunch, the kitchen serves ready-made salads, Charcuterie boxes, and sandwiches. Falk says, “I want the wait time to be as short as possible… in and out in 10 minutes.” What you won’t find is a basket of yesterday’s sweets. “We never sell old pastries, I donate them to the hospital at the end of the day,” she says. “They are very excited.”
Falk itself is a portion of the tomato, mushroom, caramelized onion, and cheese croissant, although the frittata is her favorite breakfast food. The contrast between the relatively luxurious offerings in her store and the closed storefronts on the main city road is not lost on her. “That’s really what we wanted to deliver – something cool. It doesn’t have to be Garberville [as sparse] As it is, people deserve something great.”