Fontina Ristorante Owner Madonna Ehtesbi said downtown McKinney’s uniqueness and liveliness caught her attention when searching for the Italian restaurant’s location. The restaurant had its soft opening on July 15.

Joining the restaurant business for fun, Ehtesbi has remained in it for over 35 years, opening various locations and concepts around the world. Originally establishing a similar Italian concept in Germany, Ehtesbi said Fontina Ristorante has been in the making for five months.

Ehtesbi and her son Eric Sade have been working with the whole family to open the restaurant. They help out wherever needed, from creating specials to making sure the restaurant runs smoothly during lunch and dinner service, and caters a true family experience, Ehtesbi said.

“We want to offer an Italian experience you would get in Italy,” Sade said. “We are very family oriented, so expect to be treated like family as soon as you walk in. Enjoy the ambiance, and feel like you’re stepping out of Texas for a minute.”

Sade said he and his family saw that downtown McKinney lacked an Italian restaurant and felt they needed to provide an authentic experience. Part of that authenticity comes from the building itself, which was originally a hotel, Sade said.

“We like the history of that and didn’t want to change too much and make it modern,” Sade said.

The restaurant features classic Italian dishes that are preceded by bread and Italian butter. The team behind Fontina Ristorante offers dishes that fit many dietary restrictions, such as vegetarian and seafood options from various regions of Italy.

Ehtesbi said they plans are in place to begin serving brunch.

In addition to brunch, Sade said future goals for the restaurant include opening up a second-story banquet hall that can be used for private events as well as a rooftop dining area.

“We are working on getting a little niche bar going and finding a good bartender who can provide that,” Sade said. Fettuccine gamberi ($19) is a pasta dish that comes with shrimp, spinach, sundried tomatoes and fontina cheese.

Fontina Ristorante

216 E. Virginia St., McKinney


Hours: Tue.-Thu. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 4:30-9 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 4:30-10 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. closed Mon.