Italian immigrants began settling the North Side neighborhood of the western U.P. mining town Iron Mountain in the 19th century—their trim houses with wine presses in the basement and giant gardens in the backyard springing up around the mineshafts where they worked. Many families never left, and you’ll see their Italian influence all over town: in the park’s bocce courts, Izzo’s Shoe Doctor, Simone Insurance, Rocconi Ace Hardware, Crispigna’s Market and restaurants like Romagnoli’s, Bimbo’s and Fontana’s. Fontana’s Supper Club has just the kind of high-backed booths, muted lighting and amazing red sauce you’d expect from a second-generation Italian enclave. Photos of famed coaches and native sons Tom Izzo and Steve Mariucci are framed like family portraits on the walls of the traditional cocktail lounge with upholstered half-moon booths and a wine cellar. Slip instantly into the supper club code of behavior: drinks in the lounge, place your dinner order with your cocktail waitress. When the hostess seats you, salad and warm glossy garlic bread are already waiting. Each wood-backed booth is its own little island, with a personal dimmer switch above the shaker of Parmesan.
The cooks at Fontana’s craft ravioli the Old World way, hand-rolling thin sheets of pasta, dotting one side with balls of meat or cheese, then flipping a top layer of pasta over the row before pressing and cutting the ravioli. Order them up with Iron Mountain’s trademark smooth, slow-cooked and strained red sauce, or “gravy.”
Fontana’s Supper Club is open Monday–Saturday, 4:30 p.m. for cocktails, 5 p.m. for dinner. 115 S. Stephenson (U.S. 2), 906-774-0044.
Read all about Iron Mountain’s Old World Italian restaurants, porketta at the tavern, lavish backyard tomato gardens and family-secret recipes in the April issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, on newsstands now. 231-941-8174.