Healthy and Sane

Todd English’s Tuscany at Mohegan Sun

September 1st, 2010 · 20 Comments · Boston, restaurant reviews

This is another post on our trip to Mohegan Sun this past weekend. As mentioned in my previous recap, our dinner at Todd English’s Tuscany was so incredible that it deserved it’s own little space on Healthy and Sane. :)

The restaurant is at the heart of the casino. You can’t miss the giant waterfall. I always wondered if this place was just gimmicky or actually good – the reviews online seemed to go both ways.

We had reservations for 2, with Mohegan Sun covering a portion of our bill. Last minute, when Kyle and Tiffany decided to join us for dinner, we changed the reservations to 4. The restaurant was happy to accommodate all of us, no questions asked. Fantastic! We chose to sit “outside” – it’s definitely a great people watching spot.

It was a bit dark so please forgive my photos. Hopefully the descriptions will do the place more justice. I’ll start by saying that from the moment we walked in, we were all treated like VIPs. Granted, they knew I was a blogger and wanted to make the best impression possible, but it still all felt very special.

Onion bread + olive tapenade and white bean dip to munch on while perusing the menus.

I saw the onion chunks on top so I took the top off and tried the rest since Adam, Kyle and Tiffany were all loving it. I thought the bread was stale (they thought I was crazy) and the olive tapenade was definitely better than the bean dip. We ordered a bottle of wine (it was great, we had 2 with dinner)…

… and this is when our menus were taken away. What? The manager (?) asked if there was anything we liked, didn’t like, etc. I said “no onions” but otherwise we’re flexible. The answer to that was: “We’ll just play around then if that’s ok.” Definitely okay! 😎

We didn’t know what to expect since we never placed any orders. When the first plates came out, we knew this was going to be fun!

The antipasti plate included prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, roasted tomatoes, pecorino romano, spiced nuts, crackers and mustard. Everything was super fresh – the roasted red peppers were definitely the highlight for me with the sharp pecorino romano a close second. :) That horrible picture on the right (it took me a little while to get used to the lighting, change lenses, etc.) is for one of Tuscany’s signature flatbreads – Tuscan: fontina, gorgonzola, prosciutto, rosemary-fig jam. I think this one really blew everyone away. The crust was perfectly grilled and chewy and the combo of sweet figs and savory cheese and prosciutto is always a winner. Kyle and Tiffany, I believe, said they don’t like figs yet were more than happy to dig in to this beau. They took the rest of it home (our waiter “warned” us that we were about to get a lot of food so it would be smart to pace ourselves).

Next up was our first pasta dish. Yes, first. There were 3. Spaghetti polpettine “Brooklyn” style – handcrafted meatballs, roasted tomato sauce, basil, parmigiano-regianno

Quick side note – you guys know that a few months ago I stopped eating meat that I don’t know the origin of and that I have no certainty came from humanely raised animals. In order to experience what Tuscany had to offer to the fullest (and because I knew that Kyle and Tiffany were not big fish/seafood eaters), I chose to have the chef showcase his favorite dishes, even if they contained meat. I had a little bite of the meat items so that I could review them, but for the most part was more comfortable filling up on the vegetarian and fish items.

Such was the case with the first pasta dish. I tasted the meatball – it was flavorful although a little dry in my opinion. The pasta, however, more accurately the roasted tomato sauce I guess – was amazing. Really amazing. It was deep flavored and fresh. And yes, the pasta itself was perfectly cooked as well. It’s funny how simple pasta with tomato sauce sounds but it really was perfection. I knew we had 2 more pasta dishes coming (I thought that was it though, ha!) so I restrained from polishing this off. The excitement for what was to come next was really building up…

Fettuccini carbonara – guanciale, fried yolk, peas

How cute is this presentation? We were instructed to very carefully break the yolk and mix it all in.

This action shot just brought back the memories of this meal and made my mouth water a bit. I think it’s no surprise that I’m not “fettucini carbonara” kind of girl. Cooking with loads of butter and cream is cheating in my opinion, and I’m not so easily fooled (or at least I’d like to think so). This fettucini carbonara, however, I was all about. It wasn’t heavy or cream laden. Yes it was creamy, but perfectly so. The freshly broken egg yolk coated each noodle perfectly. The peas added a touch of brightness. This was one of the best dishes of the night. No doubt.

Another pasta dish? You got it. Strozzapreti – spinach, lemon zest, toasted almonds, buratta

This was served family-style to us because apparently a fish course and a steak tasting course were coming next. The noodles were delicious. I liked the buratta, but I think this was the least impactful dish of the bunch. A little too mild. Maybe we were just pasta-ed out. 😆

It’s fish time! Branzino acqua pazza with parsley, carrot and shallot salad and garlicky spinach

Did you guys know that I used to waitress when I first moved to NY after college, while looking for a “real job?” It was at an Italian restaurant that no longer exists (in fact the whole building was taken down and replaced by a fancy hotel). Sometimes we had branzino specials. It’s a beautiful Mediterranean white fish. We used to serve it whole and filled it table-side. I got pretty good at that. Anyways, I tell you this because when I hear branzino, I automatically assume “whole fish” and was ready to see some shocked faces from Kyle and Tiffany. What we got, of course (see above), were beautiful fillets of branzino. It had such delicate flavor, not fishy whatsoever. Just gorgeous. Unfortunately I didn’t try the salad (see in the description – shallots. I don’t do shallots) but I’m sure it added a nice crunch and freshness. The garlicky spinach (and mashed potatoes? Too much food… I’m starting to forget the details now) were delicious. This was also in the running for the winning dish of the night. Fantastic!

Last savory course – steak tasting – hangar, rib-eye and porterhouse steaks over mashed potatoes and broccolini.

The steaks were cooked medium-rare. Definitely more rare than I prefer so just the look of it was a little distracting. With that said, I tried them all and they were very flavorful. The steak are wood-fired at Tuscany and the chef came out later on and told us how proud he is of their steaks. There is a lot to be proud of. Adam said these were possibly better than Mooo – that’s a giant compliment. I really liked the seasoning too – lots of salt and pepper on the outside “crust”. We were pretty stuffed by this point and Adam took most of it home and enjoyed lots of delicious looking steak sandwiches and hearty dinners for lunch and dinner the next 2 days (I ate most of the broccolini – haha).

We’re near the end. No meal of course can be complete without dessert. We were served 4 delicious looking cannoli stuffed with ricotta and choc chips.

I, amazingly enough, paced myself and was ready for dessert. These cannoli, as beautiful as they were, unfortunately were way too heavy and the shell was slightly soggy. We all left dessert mostly untouched. Maybe that’s for the better :)

Happy customers, happy bellies. :mrgreen:

Check out the amount of leftovers we took… don’t they look heavy? They were!

So that was dinner. Seriously one of the most amazing dining experiences we’ve ever had. Obviously being treated pretty much like royalty was really nice but the whole tasting menu experience, with the chef being in control of what was served and not knowing what was coming next was exhilarating. And the chef delivered. Each dish was different and delicious.

Take-aways: 1) We need to do more chef’s tastings. 2) Tuscany is a fantastic dining option at Mohegan Sun – we will definitely be back there on our next visit. Thank you, again, Mohegan Sun and everyone at Tuscany for such a wonderful experience!

Have you ever had a chef’s tasting? What did you think? Did you like letting go of control for a change?

Also, have you ever been to any of Todd English’s restaurants… or any other “celebrity chef” restaurants for that matter?

Can’t wait to hear your answers! 😀

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20 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Jess

    Man. I really need to learn to stop reading your blog when I’m hungry!! Looks amazing!! I’d love to try it next time I’m there!

  • #2 - Sues

    That looks absolutely amazing!!! Why haven’t I been to Mohegan Sun??? I LOVE chef’s tastings, but definitely don’t do them often at all. This one looks splendid :)

  • #3 - Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic

    What a great dinner. You described the dishes so well!

  • #4 - Michelle

    I adore chef’s tastings, especially at restaurants that I haven’t been to before but have great reputations! We’re contemplating doing one tonight at Arrows!

  • #5 - Tracey

    I’ve been to the Todd English restaurant in Disney World. It was good.

    My favorite celebrity chef is Rick Bayless. The flavors in his food are amazing!

  • #6 - Shannon

    oh my gosh, that does look fantastical!! what a meal, and that carbonara has my name on it 😉 and that fig flatbread!

  • #7 - Daisy

    I’ve been to some of his Boston establishments – Figs (Charlestown) and Kingfish Hall (Fanuiel). I love Figs and have been there many times! Kingfish Hall I went for restaurant week lunch in 09 and it was pretty good.

    Such a well detailed experience of your dinner at Tuscany. I would love to eat here sometime! That carbonara sounds amazing.

  • #8 - Lauren

    Fantastic recap! Everything looks divine.

    I’ve been to Richard Gere’s restaurant Bedford Post in CT where we enjoyed the chef’s signature tasting menu. The dishes were amazing, but a bit heavy… and the meal was close to 3 hours long! It was a fun experience, but I think I prefer ordering a la carte.

  • #9 - Tiffany

    This was the most intense meal of my life. Fantastic in every way imaginable. If someone made me fish like that every night, I could easily become a fish’o’phile.

    The steaks were too much for me (I really don’t care for red meat), but the mashed potatoes they hid underneath were to die for! Yum. And the cannoli…God, the cannoli…so cinnamony and sweet.

    Ok, reliving this meal has made me realize just how hungry I am, lol.

  • #10 - Annie

    I love tasting menus! They are definitely special occasion. I’ve done the small taste (14 courses/bites) at Alinea (head chef Grant Achatz) in Chicago, which is beyond amazing. They focus on all of the senses. :)
    I’ve also done two tastings at Mizuna in Denver. They are always fun, with delicious food.

  • #11 - Allie

    great recap! i love tasting menus- i always discover something i would never have tried.

  • #12 - KellyB

    Over 10 years ago before Todd English had restaurants all over the place, I went to Olives and one of the people in our group was friends with Todd and thus we got the royal treatment. They brought out wine and courses and it was truly amazing, plus he came over a few times over the night and talked to us about the food. We also all got cookbooks signed by him. It was one of the most memorable food nights of my life.

  • #13 - sister inna

    that fish dish looks aaaamaaazing.
    do you feel important yet? the whole experience sounds so great :) is it because you’re a famous blogger now?
    next time i’m coming with, please

  • #14 - Kelly

    That looks like a lot of fun. Is the tasting something that is usually on the menu or something they did special for you because you’re a blogger. I know you said Mohegan Sun covered a portion of the bill and wasn’t sure if that was because it was some fun special package, or because you’re a blogger, or because your husband is a high roller. :-)

  • #15 - Kelly

    Ahhh nevermind, reading back to the previous post I got my answer, although I’d still be curious if that is a regularly offered tasting. :-)

  • #16 - Elina

    Kelly – I believe their chef’s tasting is normally 4 courses, but maybe you can ask if you’re ever there :)

  • #17 - Lara (Thinspired)

    Oh this looks so delicious…all of it! The only chef menus I’ve ever had were at Chinese restaurants…so it was all REALLY crazy stuff!

  • #18 - Rachael

    As difficult as it is for me to surrender over even an ounce of control (in anything, really), I find I love chef’s tastings…I can be a little boring sometimes when I eat out :) Venus in Berkeley does a great one every once in a blue moon, coupled with a “Women in Wine” theme. Good stuff!

  • #19 - Erika @ Food, Fitness, & Fun

    All that food looks delicious! It’s a shame about the cannolis though…I love them! :-)

  • #20 - Kerstin

    I’ve only done one tasting menu (at Craigie on Main!) but it was so fun and I definitely want to do more. Glad you had such an incredible celebration!!