Restaurant Crawl Through Mohegan Sun...Ballo, Bobby’s Burger Palace, Todd English’s Tuscany, Tom’s Urban + More!

Carissa Chesanek
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While heading to Mohegan Sun for the Lady Gaga concert (yes, she was indeed fantastic), my editor at CTBites asked me to check out the casino’s restaurant scene. And not just one or two spots either. She wanted me to work my way through as many as possible. Naturally, I was intrigued. I’ve been to a few of the casino’s restaurants, but there were so many I have yet to experience. So when she asked me to do a restaurant crawl before the concert, I happily accepted the challenge. While I might not have tried them all - Mohegan Sun has a lot of restaurants - I managed to maneuver through a solid few. Here’s how it went. 

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My first stop was Ballo Italian Restaurant. I’ve walked by Ballo plenty of times and the opened dining room with faux outdoor bushes (to make it feel like you’re somewhere outside in Tuscany and not indoors at a casino) always drew me in. But I always wondered whether the food could be as good as the charming decor? I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that it can. My first pick was the Assaggi, which is a great appetizer for two people who aren’t too hungry but want something to snack on. The plate is complete with prosciutto paired with a variety of cheeses and roasted tomatoes. Work this with some crusty bread and you’re set. But then there’s the Mac n’ cheese prepared tableside. When I saw another table get this experience, I knew I needed to do the same. The server lit a large wheel of cheese on fire to warm it before mixing in the pasta, other cheeses, and my favorite, black truffle. The end result was rich and creamy, and you only need a few bites to fill up. 

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After all that salty and savory deliciousness, I was in the mood for something refreshing and slightly sweet. I didn’t want to fill up too much since I knew I had a job to do, so I thought I’d wander over to Bobby’s Burger Palace and grab one of those talked-about milkshakes. Sure, this joint is known for its burgers - and I have to admit the Carolina with smoked cheese and barbecue sauce made my mouth water - bit I stayed strong and kept to my plan. And I’m glad I did because that blueberry-pomegranate milkshake did the trick.

My tour continued at another Italian venue I have yet to try and I was eager to check out theTodd English’s Tuscany (the celebrity chef from PBS’ Food Trip with Todd English). The menu offers traditional Italian cuisine, ranging from four-cheese ravioli to veal piccata.  The restaurant has has a lunch buffet giving you the option to try most of the menu (flatbreads, pastas, meats, and dessert) but I opted to keep things on the lighter side. I sat at the bar (overlooking the waterfall) and ordered a glass of wine along with the sweet Italian sausage appetizer made with roasted peppers and caramelized onions. But what really gave it a unique flavor was the mustard aioli. 

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Later on, I headed to Bobby Flay’s Bar Américain for dinner. While I would have loved a steak (the New York Strip caught my eye), I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue my culinary journey after that. Instead, I stuck with some smaller bites and wasn’t disappointed. That day the oysters were from Rhode Island and offered a clean, fresh, and not too briny taste. They came with a housemate mignonette with a minty finish, but I prefer my oysters with fresh horseradish so asked for that instead. I’m a big fan of deviled eggs but never had them with shrimp so I knew that was something I needed to try off the menu. Small pickled shrimp sat atop the eggs provided a nice flavor that complemented the remoulade. Of course, I couldn’t leave this restaurant without trying some meat so I chose the steak tartare. It was very fresh and had a delicious flavor - especially when dipped in the mustard sauce. 

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After dinner, I decided to make my way to Michael Jordon’s Steakhouse to see what was on the dessert menu. There were plenty of solid choices to choose from - key lime pie, creme brûlée and the bomb which I tried before and enjoyed) - but that Boston cream pie was calling my name. Made with salted caramel and chocolate ganache (my favorite), this little number was like heaven served on a plate.  

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I had a couple hours to digest during the concert so I was ready to continue with one last stop: Tom’s Urban. The restaurant, created by food entrepreneur and world traveler Tom Ryan, was open late (until 2am on Saturdays) which made it a great spot to finish the evening. The first thing I noticed was the vast beer selection. Sure, there’s American staples like Miller Lite and Pabst Blue Ribbon, but most are craft beer made in Connecticut and all over the world (think: Mystic Bridge IPA from Pawcatuck, CT to Paulaner from Munich, Germany). I’m not much of a beer drinker so I skipped down to the cocktails - which was also impressive. I tried the Love Drunk Punch made with coconut water rum (it was too interesting not to try) and was pleased by how refreshing it was. As for the food menu, well, it’s huge, consisting of salads, pizzas, sandwiches, and tacos. I stuck to the smaller plates and ordered the tender pork belly served in lettuce and doused with a Chile mayo that heightened the flavor perfectly. 

Unfortunately, my restaurant crawl had to eventually come to an end - there is only so much one person can eat in a day. There are many spots I wasn’t able to cover, like SolToro Tequila Grill and Summer Shack, the new Belgium Brewing Taproom, and all of those food court options. Hopefully one day I can continue my culinary journey but for now, I’m full and happy.