Hidden behind two fountains in the Crystal Tree Plaza, this family-owned restaurant serves authentic Italian and Balkan dishes straight from the heart. Spend the evening sharing cevapi, goulash, pizza and more, and be swept away to a breezy summer night on the Mediterranean.
There’s history here
Owner and Executive Chef Adnan Tahirovic brought his family to the U.S. in 1993 to escape the war in Bosnia. “We came straight to Palm Beach and haven’t left,” says Tahirovic, who owns the restaurant with his son and sister. The family’s Balkan roots heavily influence the menu with items like cevapi and goulash. “Some of these recipes are hundreds of years old,” the owner says. “Every meal comes from a lot of passion and love.”
Don’t expect ‘American’ Italian
The owners take pride in both the authentic Balkan and authentic Italian dishes. Although Tahirovic is from Sarajevo in Bosnia, he says he was trained in true Italian-style cooking because of Italy’s close proximity to his country. The main difference between American Italian and true Italian cooking, he says, is the freshness and quality of ingredients. Diners at his restaurant will hear the chefs pounding and flattening their veal and beef with mallets in the kitchen before it’s served. “The meal is always prepared fresh,” he says.
Location, location, location
The family is in love with the restaurant’s North Palm Beach location, saying that the stable and mature neighborhood suits the restaurant perfectly. “They’re people with class – they know how to enjoy the dinner,” he says of the diners that often eat, drink and laugh over a meal for as long as four hours. “And then they’re back every week.”
It’s impossible to walk in and get a table on a Friday or Saturday night without reservations, Tahirovic says. It’s easier to be seated on a weeknight but he still recommends that patrons call ahead. The restaurant can seat 160 people including its outdoor dining patio.
What to try
La Fontana’s bestsellers include the cevapi made with Balkan beef sausages served in a lepinja (pita), the goulash, a meat and vegetable stew served over penne pasta and the zuppa di pesce, a savory seafood stew. Tahirovic also says customers love the lamb shank and the pizzas. “Both of our cuisines are to the highest level – it’s our way of keeping the customer here,” he says.