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Review of Prime by Il Forno

Prime by Il Forno
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Fri, 15/01
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Ranked #102 of 508 Restaurants in McAllen
Price range: US$ 6 - US$ 110
Description: Il Forno Brands' opens it's highly anticipated Prime by IL Forno. This is Il Forno Brands flagship concept featuring a modern twist to the steak house concept.
Restaurant details
Description: Il Forno Brands' opens it's highly anticipated Prime by IL Forno. This is Il Forno Brands flagship concept featuring a modern twist to the steak house concept.
Reviewed 1 June 2020

First time there, I was super impressed. The drinks,food and service were top notch. I am going back for my anniversary tomorrow. 5 Stars

Date of visit: May 2020
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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2 - 6 of 9 reviews

Reviewed 30 December 2019

not a great steakhouse but an okay one. if you want a great steakhouse, go to bob's chophouse in Edinburg, Texas. Wife ordered the veal at prime, she wanted it medium well- the veal came out medium rare. could only eat a portion of the veal, left the rest.
steak was cooked medium after I told the waiter I wanted it cooked medium well. I guess a bad night in the kitchen. Preesentation, was not that great. Ordered a Manhattan on the rocks, no booze in it at all. Best Manhattan's are at Bob's Chophouse.

Date of visit: December 2019
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
1  Thank sunrvvillage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 November 2019 via mobile

Amazing prime filet steak and mashed potatoes with white truffles! Truffles in the RGV??? What an unexpected treat. This restaurant is consistently enjoyable and offers the finest quality fare-usually found in the big cities like NY, SF, LA or Chi. Great wine offerings by the glass like Caymus and Ornellaia to pair with that meat!!!

Date of visit: November 2019
Thank ServiceTrumpsFare4me
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 September 2019

I just celebrated my anniversary. I called to see if Fernando could help me out. He was able to find me an incredible bottle of wine from the year I was born. He got me food that they don't normally serve because my wife and I love it. The chateaubriand was to die for. The hamachi was delicious as always. This place is the best steakhouse in the valley and hands down the best wine list in south Texas. I can't recommend it enough!

Date of visit: September 2019
1  Thank mojonito
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 September 2019 via mobile

I resided in the RGV for a couple of years and while visiting recently, a friend there suggested that I try a new restaurant he claimed was the best in the entire RGV. He told me I’d like it even better than my go-to restaurant, Santa Fe. I took heed and went to “Prime” for dinner on a Saturday night.

Know what? He was right.

Good bye to stalwart, Santa Fe.
HELLO new favourite, Prime!

For a fresh take on Steakhouse cuisine, go to Prime. Prime is where fine Italian dining meets Steakhouse. The General Manager, Giovanni fuses flavours from his homeland Italy, with USDA Prime Beef, hence the namesake. Well worth visiting over, and over again.

For real foodies, here is the detailed experience version...

As I entered, the modern designer decor was reminiscent of fine restaurants on the east coast: chic, sleek, and expensively outfitted. But the vibe in Prime was also distinctly RGV; modern, upbeat, full of action, and fresh.

I was greeted by a well-dressed, attractive young lady who attended to me right away which was good, because I always hate standing around in the reception area of a restaurant without being acknowledged. So, things were off to a good start.

As I was led to my table by a handsome young man also smartly dressed in black, I felt a little underdressed. Passing other diners at other tables, I noticed the clientele appeared to be the who’s who of the area, tons of top physicians and surgeons and their spouses or dates, clad in fine casual wear and accompanied by Louis, Chanel, and Prada. It’s obviously the place to see, and be seen. I spotted former Saint Louis Cardinals World Series winning pitcher, Jaime Garcia eating with a group of other well-heeled people. Being a big baseball fan, I gawked a bit while contemplating a sneaky photo op, and then I gathered my wits and sat down to try this highly recommended place.

My table had a great view of the dynamic kitchen staff diligently at work creating food art. I was hungry, and the smell of a hot brick oven caught my attention, so I glanced over to the kitchen trying to see the source of these enticing wood, charcoal, and yeasty aromas. I saw a server pull something out of that brick oven on a board, but my attention drifted back over to the sounds of the chef calling out for individual components of dishes for assembly. It was like watching a game and seeing the team work together seamlessly to score. Just then, a server poured a glass of ice water into a beautiful copper goblet on my table and the first server then placed a plate of steaming Italian craft bread with herbed butter in front of me.

I was anxious to sample the hot bread and burned my fingers, but it proved a worthy action. Toasted to crusty perfection, soft, but heavily textured in the middle, with just the right amount of stretchiness and holes inside, the bread was utter perfection, like in Europe. Just to be sure I was still on earth, I tore another piece of the flavourful bread, and buttered it. I tasted it again and thought to myself, heaven had just been confirmed. That is, until the wine director arrived and showed me the menu and the wine list.

Being an oenophile, I always chose my meal based on what I plan to drink, evaluating the wine list first, determining pairings, secondarily. So I had asked for the Wine Director and a few moments later, Fernando arrived. He seemed to know not to judge my wine knowledge by my traveling attire of a short-sleeved, off the rack shirt with wrinkled cargo pants and comfortable leather sandals. He deftly asked me what kind of wine I enjoy, rather than ask me the typical, “Do you have any questions about the wine list?” We discussed my preferences and from that he offered me a glass of Caymus Cabernet, to which I happily agreed. I was liking this place already.

Unlike many wine service staff at fine restaurants (and I have eaten at most of the country’s finest), Fernando actually ‘heard’ me. Typically, servers suggestions are reflective of their own palate, or worse, whatever bottle raises the bill highest to bolster their tip. Prime has obviously taught their staff properly. And I am all about service!

This wine guy Fernando seemed to have endless suggestions for pairings and knew everything about every bottle. For a young man, he proved remarkably knowledgeable about wine and exceeds many wine stewards double his age. The wine offerings at Prime are comprehensive, vast, and diverse. They have something for all palates, and budgets. Best of all, even the hard to procure wines have only reasonable markups. So Prime is definitely the place to get adventurous in the glass. For the cognoscenti, there are multiple vintages of: Vega Sicilia Unico, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Penfolds Grange, Diamond Creek, Caymus, Dunn, Hundred Acre, Bond, Bevan, Chateau Latour, Pontet Canet, Leoville Las Cases, and seemingly endless others. All wine is temperature and humidity controlled, and served perfectly in crystal stemware to accompany their USDA Prime steaks.

I told the wine director that I wanted something unique, but affordable. He brought out a bottle of 2007 Bevan Syrah from the Napa Valley. New ground for me. It was an amazing wine, as promised. Shortly after I tried the wine, my salad arrived to the table.

Caesar salad. Perfectly chilled crispy Romaine lettuce, flash grilled on one side to impart a lovely char flavour. The dressing was mildly spicy, with fresh garlic, real anchovies, homemade crunchy croutons topped with shaved Gran Padano. I love Gran Padano when used with softer, more subtle dishes, but I would have preferred Parmigiano Reggiano in the salad because it can stand up to and hold its own, when competing with other strong flavours such as raw garlic and anchovies for space on my palate. Nonetheless, it was a delicious salad. And like any good Italian, I soaked up the residual dressing with that amazing bread.

My main course was timed well-not too soon, not too late-about 1 glass of wine later. Often when eating alone in restaurants, servers will rush the meal out, and the overlap of dish arrivals destroys the festive mood, rendering plain old eating from what was to be fine dining. The plate was warm, the filet mignon was hot. As I cut in, I could feel the suppleness of the meat, and I could see the perfect rosy colour of what’s known as, “medium rare plus”-that sweet spot in meat temperature just between under cooked and over cooked, whereby the red interior is paradoxically very warm, yet unoxidised. It was exactly as I had asked and could only come from a super high temperature source used by the finest steakhouses, and an attentively placed order to a seasoned chef. I bit into the generous piece of meat and it unctuously yielded buttery, salty, savoury flavours of the finest marbled charred meat; unmistakably USDA aged Prime beef. As a an accompaniment, chunky mashed potatoes with well-integrated cheese topped with fresh thyme were served. They were delicious and just as I like them; palpable, textured potato parts, rather than that excessively refined homogeneously smashed starchiness often served. These were definitely satisfying spuds. I was not able to determine the exact cheese used, and admittedly I forgot to ask.

The Bevan Syrah complimented the food well. It had the tannic earthy backbone to cut through the fat of the cheese, butter, and meat. It had the ample fruit to frame sweetness of the filet meat, and the long finish to make one want yet another bite. It was a perfect choice selected by Fernando, the wine steward.

I stayed at my comfortable table for quite some time watching the beautiful people come and go, before ordering dessert and enjoying the better part of the bottle.

My server suggested that I try one of Prime’s signature desserts. So I elected the Passion fruit cheese cake with Gallleta Maria cookies ice cream and a cup of espresso. It was a veritable work of art on a dish. Amazingly fresh and light with the perfect combination of natural sweetness of the fruit, supple tartness of the cheese, and vanilla accents of the cookies. It was a tasty, as it was beautiful.

I was wishing that I had room for other dishes and desserts, but I had had my fill. Since I wasn’t driving, there was of course room for a night cap. So I paid my bill and went over to the long inviting bar and found a seat between more beautiful people. I was admiring all the “top shelf” liquor lining the bottom shelves. I got the bartender, Steve’s attention and asked what was on the top shelves. A self-proclaimed expert on wine I may be, on the subject of liquor and spirits, I am not. Steve was explaining the differences between “Old Bushmill’s” and “Old Pappy Van Winkle” and the difference between “Agave” and “Tequila”. Prime has a full service top shelf bar with rare and unique spirits and high end wines by the glass just in case you are looking for a great high end bar to meet and greet in the RGV.

Prime is arguably now THE best restaurant in South Texas. Great place, great food, great service, great experience. I should add, I am a harsh critic.

After all was said and done (and like always), I took the liberty to ask questions about the the food, the wine, and the people involved. The servers, staff, and GM were only too kind and gave me details just in case you are wondering:

Filtered water (no surprise)
Imported flour (for pizza and bread),
Brick oven from Italy,
USDA Prime meat only,
Grass-fed/grain finished beef
Other than the beef, locally sourced ingredients, (super fresh)
Beef is sourced from Chicago
Temp/humidity controlled wine storage (clearly visible) in the main dining room
Crystal stemware (can’t serve great wine in a cheap glass).

Go to Prime. Well worth a trip back to the RGV just for another awesome dining experience.

Date of visit: September 2019
2  Thank ServiceTrumpsFare4me
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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