‘Top Chef’ star Fabio Viviani opens Italian restaurant at del Lago
Posted on February 22nd, 2017
Feb. 22, 2017
The most upscale, and the most anticipated, of the dining options at the swanky del Lago Resort & Casino will open Thursday.
Portico by Fabio Viviani is named for the celebrity chef, a breakout star of Bravo’s reality series Top Chef. Known for his animated personality and thick accent from his native Italy, Viviani was voted fan favorite in the show’s fifth season. He has capitalized on his fame since the season aired in 2008; the restaurant is Viviani’s sixteenth.
The Italian steakhouse is Italian in inspiration, but the sophisticated dishes are generally worlds apart from Grandma’s red sauce. Think delicate spheres of fried bread called coccoli that you carefully break open and fill with thin shavings of Prosciutto di Parma and soft chunks of Taleggio cheese, a drizzle of truffle honey and dots of oniony pesto ($13). Or a slightly untraditional rigatoni carbonara ($16) with Brussels sprouts, Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper and egg. It arrives at the table in a Mason jar; a server caps the jar, gives it a shake to combine the ingredients, and plates the dish. The pastas, gnocchi and breads are made from scratch daily.
While some cheeses and Prosciutto di Parma are sourced from Italy, the restaurant also is working with local farmers and purveyors; dishes containing items sourced locally (when available) are noted on the menu. As an example, the restaurant is sourcing three cheeses from Muranda Cheese Company in Waterloo; its blue cheese is used in a poached pear salad ($12) and a baby red leaf romaine salad ($12).
The restaurant seats 210 people, and private dining spaces are available. The restaurant will initially focus on dinner service; lunch and weekend brunch will be phased in later. The hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Viviani will initially be on hand to ensure that the restaurant gets off to a strong start, and then will make return visits as needed. He will be joined by John Paolone, his California-based business partner, who oversees the culinary program for Viviani Hospitality Group. Don Agate of Skaneateles is the restaurant’s executive chef.
‘Top Chef’ opening restaurant at del Lago Resort & Casino
The glitzy $440 million resort and casino, owned by Wilmorite and California-based Peninsula Pacific and managed by Iowa-based JNB Gaming, opened Feb. 1. It has a 2,400-seat entertainment venue and a 94,000-square-foot gaming floor with 2,000 slots and 89 table games. It is at 1133 state Route 414 in Tyre, Seneca County, near Waterloo — roughly a 45-minute drive from downtown Rochester.
In addition to Portico by Favio Viviani, the property offers several food and drink options. Its 285-seat Farmer’s Market Buffet has been especially well accepted, with just under 2,300 people served on a single day last week, said Jeff Babinski, executive vice president and general manager for the property. Its Vine restaurant serves southern and Cajun cuisine, and a bar and lounge area called Centrifico is in the middle of the casino. A food court consists of a Moe’s Southwest Grill, Smashburger and Ciccino’s, a locally owned pizzeria and restaurant that also has locations in Waterloo and Geneva.
Another restaurant, called Sociale, will open when the 205-room hotel and spa opens later this year. It will serve three meals a day, from a coffee shop setup in the morning to a seafood restaurant and raw bar at night.