A couple weeks ago, my parents and I took another fun road trip with two of our pageant girls, Allie and Maggie, and two of our pageant board members, Stan and Deltra. We were heading from Watertown down to Verona for the Miss Mohawk Valley Pageant, and stopped off for a pre-event dinner at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort. After running around the place like chickens with our heads cut off trying to find a table that could seat us with no reservation on St. Patrick’s Day (whoopsie!), the kind folks at Pino Bianco Trattoria took pity on our black souls and granted us passage, and a pretty fine meal, to boot.
|Lovely light fixture over our hard-won table|
Pino Bianco is one of Turning Stone’s more upscale dining options, which range from fast food counters in a food court set-up to fine dining. It is utterly lovely inside, though we were seated outside the actual trattoria in a sort of inside “sidewalk café” area, apart from the main aisle of the casino but also from the main dining room.
For starters, we were brought a tray laden with white bean dip, oil cured olives, bruschetta, and foccacia bread with roasted tomatoes and herbs baked right in. The dip was a showstopper, better than any old bean dip I’ve had before – smooth with pungent lemon, oregano and garlic flavors.
|Phenomenal bean dip. I’ve never typed those words all together before.|
The salad round was pretty standard, with the exception of a very acidic house vinaigrette and a snappy, yummy little parmesan frico, which gave me the opportunity to teach my tablemates about the method of baking or dry-pan-frying off a little pile of grated parmesan into a crunchy little cheese chip.
|Get your frico on; fly your frico flag|
Allison, our Miss TI 2012, is a vegetarian. Sometimes, it’s hard for us to hang out. Guys, she has a pet pig. And she does NOT appreciate it when I offer to come over and eat him for her. But on this night, being an animal lover paid off in the form of her eggplant rollatini, which was delicious. As Pino Bianco has a pizza oven, I imagine the smoky elements I tasted in this rolled eggplant dish originated there, and the bubbly, browned mozzarella cheese over top provided a comforting blanket of yum.
|Not a hint of pork in this|
|I mean, they put the spoon right in the marrow. Wasn’t I supposed to eat it?|
|Say it with me: agri dole chay|
So yeah, this meal cost a pretty penny. And we were sitting in a casino. But I’ve got to say, this was fine, fine food, and the lengths these folks went to find a spot to feed our large party on a busy night is admirable. You know what else? While casinos aren’t really my scene, I mean, if I’m spending money, I like there to be something definite to show for it – a ton of people legitimately flock to these places in their leisure time. Plus, Turning Stone has done a remarkable job renovating over the last few years. If you haven’t been in five or ten, give it a shot. The spa is high end, they have new tower rooms for overnight guests, and there are several good restaurants like Pino Bianco on premise. And the sound of slot machines, but that’s beside the point, right? Hee.
We awarded Pino Bianco a surprising 8 on the BHS scale. There wasn’t a thing on that table that wasn’t delicious, and the service was downright warm and welcoming. From a glance at their dessert menu, I’m betting (Ha! See what I did there?) it’s delicious as well, but as there’s a cheesecake café directly across the hallway, you may want to take a respite at the roulette table and then grab your treats elsewhere.
I’ve been busier than a one-armed paper hanger the past few weeks at work, Big Hungries, so my Facebook and Twitter time has been cut down. If you have anything yummy or fun to share, pop on over and do it. You don’t need me to start the fun. I’ll be back next week with a Binghamton Restaurant Week review and just maybe some fun details on my latest celeb encounter. I know you’re waiting with baited breath. Until then, mis amis…my personality is big; my hunger is bigger!