The Wait is Finally Over – Ballo Opens at Mohegan Sun!

At last, the most highly anticipated restaurant to hit New England in recent years is finally open! Ballo Restaurant and Social Club has officially opened its doors at Mohegan Sun, so be prepared to be WOWED!!! Not only will you be mesmerized by the lavish and awe-inspiring interior, but expect to be floored by the food as well.

We, at Front Row Eats, were recently invited to the Grand Opening and were honored to be able to taste the menu before anyone else! I had been counting down the days in anticipation of this event for almost a year. And let’s just say…Ballo was well worth the wait!

Upon entering, we were greeted by a beautiful marble floor. In just a few steps, we were transported to a Gothic Abbey that made us forget we were at Mohegan Sun…or anywhere even close for that matter.

Ballo has a gigantic double-sided bar, making it the perfect place to grab a drink.

We ordered their signature cocktail, the Ballo Limonata, made with Spirit Vodka, San Pelligrino Limonata, and Blood Orange ice cubes. It was light and refreshing in an “it-will-catch-up-to-you-fast” sort of way. Just take it easy because this delicious drink might have you searching for a designated driver. And you can definitely take your time sipping it…because the ice cubes are made from blood orange juice so it never becomes watered down when the ice melts. Now that’s brilliant!!!

Ballo Caprese – Burrata, Pesto, and Roasted Tomato

For the first course, we were served the Ballo Caprese. The Burrata cheese stole the show in this dish. It was soft, creamy and luscious both inside-and-out. It was a great start to our meal!

Crispy Artichokes, Arugula, Pickled Shallots, and Lemon

Next we were served a salad with crispy artichokes. Although I admire the technique the chef used to make the artichokes crispy by roasting and flash-frying them, it did not result in the best overall taste. This dish was all about the texture and needed to be more about the flavor. More pickled shallots or lemon would have went a long way.

Meatballs with Broccoli Rabe and Ricotta Salata

These are the kind of meatballs that will put your grandmother’s recipe to shame! We were informed by Chef Shaun Golan that his meatballs only contain 6 ingredients. He mentioned they were 100% pork meatballs which make them juicier and give them a better texture than beef. He also uses breadcrumbs like most other traditional recipes. If only I could figure out the four other ingredients!!! These meatballs may have been my favorite dish of the day.

Pizza with Sweet Sausage, Roasted Peppers, and Caramelized Onions

This pizza was a symphony of sweet and savory. The sausage was mildly spicy but played well with the sweetness of the caramelized onions and smokiness from the peppers. Did I mention how addicting it was? Oh yeah, two of us demolished this hearty pizza on our own!

Three Cheese Ravioli with Ricotta, Mascarpone, Parmigiano and Basil Pesto.

I loved the simplicity in this dish. These home-made raviolis were stuffed with a trio of delicious cheeses. The use of Mascarpone was very clever because it is primarily a cheese used in dessert. Its sweetness counterbalanced the saltiness of the Parmigiano. All in all, this was a close runner-up for my favorite dish of the night. I highly recommend it!

Tagliatelle with Prosciutto Cotto and Parmigiano

I think this dish had potential to be very tasty. However, my pasta was clearly burnt on top. After looking around, I noticed everyone who ordered the Tagliatelle also had a charred  pile of pasta. This made me wonder if this was intentional to give some smoky flavor. Either way, I wish mine wasn’t burnt.

Beef Tenderloin with Heirloom Tomatoes, Radicchio, Arugula, Balsamic and Pesto.

This beef tenderloin was cooked perfectly as it was slightly pink in the center and unbelievably juicy. It was incredibly tender and I could literally cut through it with my fork. It was like butter.

My only minor complaint was the use of the Basil Pesto…again. It became redundant as this was the third dish it was featured in. The Basil Pesto complemented the previous two dishes, but it seemed forced here. It appeared like they used it for aesthetic reasons to bring some color to the dish. Putting this aside, the Beef Tenderloin was still AMAZING though!

Cannolis with Whipped Ricotta and Vanilla Bean dipped in Pistachios and Chocolate Chips.

With barely enough room for dessert, we were given some mini cannolis (luckily they weren’t full-sized because my stomach would have hated me at this point!). I loved the addition of the pistachios on one side and chocolate chips on the other because it was like two different treats in one.

Nick of Front Row Eats with Owner John Tunney

In speaking with John Tunney, I asked him what inspired him to create Ballo, specifically based on the restaurant’s immaculate interior design. He explained, once, when he was in Italy, he was fortunate enough to find the San Galgano Abbey. With wine in hand, he sat down and listened to the music playing at the Opera House next door.  There was no ceiling in the Abbey so he was able to look up at the stars while enjoying the beautiful sounds of the Opera. He told himself then that he would someday recreate the structure in which this memorable moment took place.

I told Mr. Tunney that my favorite thing about Ballo was that I felt like I had been transported to another place. I completely forgot that I was at Mohegan Sun. He replied by saying this was the biggest compliment that I could have given him. Deep down, this was his ultimate goal and I can honestly say I feel like I shared a similar experience to his night at the San Galgano Abbey. I implore you to experience it for yourself and visit Ballo Restaurant and Social Club as soon as you can. Like I said before, be prepared to be WOWED!!! 

Ballo Restaurant and Social Club on Urbanspoon

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