Of The Week
By Teresa Barile
A Grand Re-Reopening For LaFontanella
The Gazette and I are happy to announce that La Fontanella will have a grand re-opening celebration dinner on Monday, Mar. 27th. After a two-year absence, the original owner, Joe Fontanella, together with chef/partners Mario Radovic and John Morgan, is back at his original location to offer the best in Northern Italian and Istrian cuisine. Make reservations now for Monday night’s gala, where free champagne will be on hand to help celebrate the newly remodeled restaurant.
The elegant, intimate dining room holds a mere 15 tables, all dressed in crisp, white linens, illuminated by soft candle glow. Superior service is delivered by a very professional and knowledgeable staff, including Anita, who will describe in mouth-watering detail, the day’s specials.
Let the coziness surround you while you sip a glass of wine or cocktail from the bar. Try, if you can, to make a decision when such luscious appetizers are described to you such as risotto with spinach and shrimp, flavored with saffron and porcini mushrooms, which can also be enjoyed as an entrée. An intriguing combination of fresh mussels paired with sliced sausage, arugula and cannelini cooked in a white wine sauce with chopped tomatoes was delicious. Soak up the wonderful juices with crisp Italian bread and think about sharing a Fontanella salad of mesclun lettuce, roasted asparagus, roasted peppers and gorgonzola cheese in a zesty vinaigrette dressing. Another excellent choice of starters is the fresh seafood salad, full of tender calamari, clams, shrimp and more.
If you think choosing an appetizer was tough, wait till you see the list of entrees, featuring homemade pasta dishes, veal, chicken, beef and fresh fish. Share a bowl of their homemade pasta (about $13) such as pappardelle, a wide noodle, with filetto di pomodoro sauce. Homemade gnocchi are tender, yet toothsome, served with a vodka sauce laced with pine nuts for an aromatic treat. "Paglio e fieno" means "hay and straw" and combines green and white pasta with shrimp, scallops, asparagus and mushrooms in a garlic wine sauce that is heavenly.
La Fontanella serves the freshest fish brought to market each day. It was a treat to taste their delicious tilapia fish, from the Caribbean, sautéed francese style, with a tangy lemon butter sauce laced with capers. This tender, flaky fish was rich with flavor, and came with fresh broccoli and oven-browned potatoes, as do all the entrees. Other fish dishes include salmon in Dijon mustard sauce or whole, charcoal grilled striped bass or red snapper. The black pepper-encrusted tuna on a bed of arugula, grilled fennel and roasted peppers is out of this world for its freshness and flavor.
My dinner companion devoured one of their house specialties, chicken Fontanella. Tender breast of chicken is sautéed with hearts of palm, shitake mushrooms, shrimp, asparagus and tomato in a delicate white wine sauce ($13).
Vitello Genovese is a hearty dish of tender veal medallions with pesto sauce, roasted almonds and sun-dried tomatoes ($17). Prime aged filet of beef is cooked to your specifications and topped with Portobello mushrooms ($22). The accommodating staff will adjust any dish to your liking and is always on hand to answer any questions
And it doesn’t end there. I was amazed at the inventive ways all the freshest ingredients were combined to create truly memorable dishes. Chef Mario has been cooking in the Astoria area for decades and knows how to please the palate. Fontanella himself is a successful restaurateur with a second location in Pelham Manor. Together they have collaborated to create a wonderful restaurant, offering top-quality food and service at reasonable prices. La Fontanella is open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, and on Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. for dinner only. Closed Sundays except for private parties.
Don’t forget to save room for their decadent desserts like the "lighter than air" white and dark chocolate mousse cake, homemade tiramisu cake, or whole strawberries served with freshly whipped cream, all served on chilled dessert plates, another nice touch!
Welcome back La Fontanella to Astoria by stopping in for dinner any night, or by joining in the grand re-opening celebration on Mar. 27, when champagne will be on the house.
Enjoy a memorable dining experience at the intimate, newly redecorated"La Fontanella" restaurant on the corner of 34th Avenue and 31st Street in Astoria.
31-01 34th Ave.