It seems like yesterday, but Fat Clemenza’s opened over 10 years ago in South Walton’s Miramar Beach location to hungry locals and tourists searching for authentic classical Italian cuisine. The restaurant name was taken from The Godfather movie, in which the character Fat Clemenza was known to love food and cook most of the time.
The owners of Fat Clemenza’s grew up in large Italian families surrounded by their culture and cuisine, and are also very passionate about their heritage and food. They could not find the quality or the atmosphere they were used to on the Emerald Coast, so with local friends they embarked on the process of opening a restaurant that would cater to their own needs.
Never realizing how popular Fat Clemenza’s in Miramar Beach would become, this small and intimate Italian bistro has since won Emerald Coast Magazine’s Best Pizza, Best Restaurant, Best Italian, and Best Chef from 2008 to 2016, not to mention numerous other accolades and awards. Specializing in procuring great food products from all over the world to create the highest quality Italian cuisine possible, Fat Clemenza’s sources olive oils, plum tomatoes, and sheet pasta from Italy, flour from Naples by the pallet, and Italian fennel sausage from Chicago twice a week.
The bread at Fat Clemenza’s is made fresh daily, along with the house crafted sauces and salad dressings. The Blackboard Specials change daily and are quite popular. The inspiration for the blackboard came from a famous restaurant in Chicago named Tufano’s that has been around for generations, and the blackboard is common in many of the great family-owned restaurants in Chicago.
At Fat Clemenza’s, the core menu is like a really great well oiled machine, but the blackboard allows the chefs to be creative with seasonal ingredients and keeps the restaurant interesting for everyone. Another tradition the restaurant features is “Fresh Fish Friday” which ensures that Fat Clemenza’s serves fresh locally caught fish every Friday night.
For lunch, try the wood fired pizza with Italian Beef and Sausage, or the savory Pasta Carbonara with pancetta. For dinner, begin with my favorite Frutti Di Mare containing sautéed shrimp, scallops, clams, calamari, and mussels in a white wine sauce, and move on to the popular specialty Risotto, made fresh and cooked to perfection. Another favorite is the Cannelloni Florentine stuffed with veal, ricotta, and spinach, then baked with the sauce of choice.
They do take reservations at Fat Clemenza’s in Miramar Beach, which is recommended, especially during holidays and the summer season. Fat Clemenza’s is located at 12273 US Highway 98 Miramar Beach, Fl 32550 (Directly off of Highway 98, 2.8 miles east of the Bass Pro Shop). Hours of operation are Monday – Friday with Lunch from 11:00AM – 2:00PM, Dinner from 5:00PM – 9:30PM, Saturday (Dinner only) 5:00PM – 9:30PM, and Sunday they are closed. Call 850-650-5980 for more information.