“The restaurants are an essential ingredient in attracting and entertaining people, and giving them a reason — more than gambling — to come back often,” said casino general manager Joe Hasson.
With the casino’s Wine Country location in the heart of some of the world’s best food and wine production regions, eating certainly cannot be an afterthought, either in quality or diversity.
For that reason, there is no generic buffet, or $5.99 prime rib dinner special. Many of the restaurants are local, as are their purveyors and staff. In fact, all the restaurants were handpicked by the Graton Casino owner, Graton Rancheria Federated Indians, led by tribal leader and chairman Greg Sarris.
At the same time, experiences are reasonable. The eateries tend to offer the same menu prices as at their out-of-casino locations, with bargains ranging from $1.75 pastor and cochinita pibil tacos at La Fondita, to a monster slice of perpperoni pizza for $5.95 from Slice House.
Taking the spotlight is Tony Gemignani (of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Capo, and Tony’s Coal Fired Pizza). But beyond Gemignani’s big name, there are plenty of other notable destinations, too, like the casino-owned 630 Park Steakhouse, the full-service Daily Grill, the eclectic Boathouse Asian Eatery, and a 24-hour, 500-seat Marketplace featuring eight more casual eateries (including Gemignani’s Slice House eatery).
For an overview of what to expect, and what to eat, here is a look at the full-service restaurants, complete with menu links.
Tony’s of North Beach — Chef-owner Tony Gemignani is an 11-time World Championships of Pizza Makers winner, and he takes his ‘za seriously. That means he has eight kinds of pizzas made in three different kinds of ovens, including Napoletana (baked in a 900° wood-fired oven), classic Italian/Americana (like a pepperoni, salami, sausage, bacon, linguisa, mushroom combo), 16-inch New York style, thick and rectangular Sicilian style, cracker crust (650° in a brick oven), or California style. There is also Roman style, as a trio of separate pies all joined together on a giant wood cutting board.
Don't miss the gluten free pies, either, including a vegetarian model. For other appetites, there are family-style pasta dinners, giant meatball subs, and big salads. Oh, those meatballs – they are marvelous, in tennis ball size rounds, all dense and moist and meaty and swimming in rich tomato sauce.
Boathouse Asian Eatery — Partner owner and chef Catherine Do covers the gamut of Asian cuisines, including Japanese, traditional Chinese, and Vietnamese cooking. It’s an upscale experience, too, with a centerpiece oyster and sushi bar, a tall, uplit tree reaching toward the second floor loft, dramatic pendant lighting, and a white brick wall painted with a theatrical Japanese-style octopus mural.
Among the sushi and stir-fry, you’ll find fancier dishes like a whole salt and pepper crab topped in red onion, red, yellow and green peppers, plus authentic dishes like congee that’s silky and studded with ground pork and preserved egg.
The Daily Grill — This fun spot is a West Coast chain featuring American comfort food with Mediterranean accents, and let’s just say this: chicken potpie. The glorious potpie is as a big as a hubcap, and sumptuous with lots of poultry, veggies and savory thick gravy between golden rafts of puff pastry.
We’re fans of the meatloaf, as well, loaded with mushrooms and rounded out with creamy spinach mash. For the setting, think upscale bistro, with a long, welcoming bar in front and quieter dining in the back.
Somehow, the chef has managed to pack a lot of goodness into 600 calories or less, too, with a Simply 600 menu that tempts with dishes like crab stuffed salmon, and herb chicken caprese draped in mozzarella.
630 Park Steakhouse — Owned by the casino, this posh place brings the high style of Las Vegas, featuring a backlit bar in the front room and a wall of fire in the back.
The meat is Prime grade Midwest and California raised, and wet/dry aged for a minimum of 28 days. Yet there’s plenty of local flair, too, from Sonoma County dairy, to cheeses, chicken, lamb, produce, and of course, wines.
For opulence, it’s hard to beat the 12 oz. California Wagyu slathered in gorgonzola crust, alongside au gratin potatoes decorated with Hobbs bacon and roasted wild mushrooms.
Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet