A month ago I brought you an article about John Tunney’s latest creation, Ballo Italian Restaurant & Social Club. Now, I am pleased to bring you a sneak peek at not just the décor, not just a menu preview, but of the reason we are all here...the food.
But first, let me take you on a brief tour of this restaurant/bar/dance club/lounge. Remember that preview article? All that construction and the pictures of what it will look like? Seeing those photos is one thing, seeing this place in person is another. The wraparound marble bar, the sphere-like hanging lamps, the giant lanterns, and the fireplaces, give Ballo a glow unlike any other restaurant in Mohegan Sun Casino.
The tall archways, high ceilings, and artwork, created by Tunney’s brother, will make you feel like you left Connecticut and teleported to Italy. The lounge area with eclectic and comfortable zebra striped chairs, make you want to kick it with your friends while you sip a great cocktail. In fact, when you’re here, you might entirely forget that you are in a casino.
Enough furniture talk. That whole “kick back and have a drink idea,” let’s do it. There is no better way to start your Ballo experience then with their signature drink, the Ballo Limonata, consisting of Spirit Vodka from Italy, Cointreau, and a blood orange ice cube of sorts. The Limonata is a strong, yet smooth drink, with a lemon-lime flavor, that will change as the frozen blood orange melts away.
Out of our eight course tasting meal, there were many highlights. My personal favorite was quite basic, the meatballs. Think back to when grandma or mom used to make them. When you try these, they will erase those childhood memories. Ballo’s meatballs are made with only six total ingredients according to Chef de Cuisine Shaun Colan. While I cannot fault him for giving us reporters the recipe, the meatballs are made primarily of pork. These will be the lightest, most tender meatball you will ever have. The fresh tomato sauce has a bit of spice to it...when people look away, mop up that sauce with a piece of bread. Other featured appetizers are the Ballo Caprese Salad and the Crispy Artichokes with arugula and lemon. The artichokes are first poached in high quality extra virgin olive oil, roasted in the oven, and flash fried in a sauté pan at high heat to give it a nice crunch.
If you like pizza, try one here. Ballo likes to serve pizza right out of the oven without much waiting time. We were served their Sweet Sausage Pizza with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, and provolone. The dough was light and that mixture of toppings provided that salty/sweet thing most of us like.
For pasta, try Ballo’s creamy Tagliatelle with prosciutto and parmigiano. To get an idea about this dish, think alfredo, only better. Other pasta options include Ravioli with ricotta, mascarpone, and basil pesto, and Chitarra with lobster, carbonara, and bacon. You know that sounds good. Some of the entrees are classics like chicken or veal parmigiana, Veal Marsala, Chicken Francaise, and Branzino. Swordfish, Cod, and a tender Filet Mignon with heirloom tomatoes, grilled radicchio, and arugula are some of Ballo’s lighter menu items.
Prices at Ballo are reasonable for fine Italian dining. Nothing on the menu is over $35 and most appetizers, salads, and pizzas are in that $8-$15 range. So if you want a great meal and don’t wish to spend $80 per person at Bar Americain or Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, Ballo is the choice for you.
If you’re still in doubt about Ballo, they will feature D.J.s, and dancing all over the floor and on the tables. Who can pass up fun like that?
Another nice feature in Ballo is the wonderful staff they have in place. The bartenders know their drinks, the wait staff knows the menu and seems to know about food, and everyone here has personality. I don’t know about you, but I love that.
Relax with a drink, eat great food, do it with good people, and have fun and dance, but do it at Ballo.
Ballo Italian Restaurant & Social Club is located at the Mohegan Sun Casino.