An Italian steakhouse seemed like a natural project for Venezuelan restaurateur Levin De Grazia, who opened La Fontana in Doral last month. With his brother Horacio De Grazia, he also owns multiple locations of Bocas Grill in Miami, Latin-American eatery Francisca, and vegan spot Laborejo in Doral, along with a comfort food restaurant by the name of Kitchen of the World in Kendall.
For La Fontana — Italian for "fountain" — he wanted to pay homage to his family's Italian roots and their first food venture by the same name in Venezuela, an Italian restaurant created 45 years ago by his father Nahir and uncle Palmerino De Grazia.
The idea, Levin De Grazia says, was to open a restaurant that would hit home with Doral's diverse population and add a new dining experience to its expanding food scene. "I wanted to offer a place for locals that isn't fancy or full of itself, with all that's great about a steakhouse, but with a fusion of Italian and Latin touches added to everything from the decor to the cocktails."
At the 5,624-square-foot eatery, nestled in a strip mall, the atmosphere is kept casual with a playlist of '80s and '90s music. The staff is trained to be helpful and friendly to reflect his own attitude, De Grazia says, who constantly walks the brick and dark wood dining rooms to greet customers. He notes he's taken the success of the Italian steakhouse as a personal goal. "Running other restaurants has given me the experience and background to invest in what's been a dream in the making for a long time now," he says. "To keep representing my family’s name well and offering something accessible, with good service and flavorful food."
Between three dining areas and the bar, La Fontana can sit 170 guests. For more an intimate setting and private group dining, De Grazia guides patrons to a more secluded space nicknamed "the office." The steakhouse serves the same menu all day, with many dishes able to function as either starters or main courses, such as entrée-sized beef marinara rustic bread ($19) and fresh and smoked salmon tartare with stracciatella and guava and pineapple sauce ($14.50).
Meat, served in different cuts and sizes, is cooked in an artisanal grill that heats to over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit using charcoal and wood, a grilling method that adds a smoky taste to the proteins. The menu prices start at $17 for chicken breast and increase to $110 for Fiorentina steaks served with Barolo, demiglace, and Woodford bourbon sauces. Some of the standouts are pork chops ($24), porterhouse steak ($42) and to share, French ribeye ($80) and tomahawk ($90) steaks.
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From the restaurant's list of main courses, which leans Italian, highlights are 305 carbonara fettuccine with corn and pancetta ($18), barolo osso buco with red wine sauce ($42), and ravioli with short rib and a creamy Woodford bourbon sauce. Also on the menu is a section dedicated to made-to-order pasta with sauces like Alfredo ($14), aglio e olio ($14), and filet di pomodoro ($16). Proteins like chicken ($6), shrimp ($7), salmon ($8), and steak ($9) can be added.
In Venezuela, De Grazia explained, steakhouse guests expect a robust cocktail program, so he and his cousin Uber Mantovani teamed up curate an array of specialty offerings to feature alongside wine, beer, and whiskey. Their creations range from spicy and bold options like the Pancho Villa Threat, made with jalapeño and Fresno pepper infused with tequila and pineapple-sriracha shrub syrup ($14), to sweet and cooling concoctions like Italian "La Habana" with aged Diplomatico rum with a bitter touch of Campari topped with guava soda ($16). There are also shareable signature options, like a botanical Tropicana Club with pineapple-infused vodka, peach, and rosemary syrup for groups of four to six guests.
To cap off the meal, La Fontana offers three hearty-portioned dessert options: warm American brownie tower ($18), giant pavlova ($20), and flavor-packed coconut and rum cake ($16). The restaurant also hosts a happy hour with discounted drinks and bites from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday.
La Fontana. 10702 NW 74th St., Doral; 786-713-8041; lafontanasteakhouse.com. Sunday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.