If you’re like me, you’re always looking for places to go and get away during the winter. Lucky for me (and for you) del Lago Resort & Casino is only a 40 minute drive on the Thruway from Syracuse and offers just about everything needed for a wonderful weekend away.
Last weekend I was able to join the Syracuse Eating Club and some of the crew from their Elite Members Group for a dinner at Portico by Fabio Viviani inside del Lago Resort & Casino. I’ve been to del Lago more than a few times previously to this trip and I’ve been to most of the restaurants they have. Both for special occasions and random weeknight dinners. But this dinner was truly unique.
When I arrived, I was escorted into a private dining room where a table was set for the whole group, almost twenty of us, beautifully decorated and waiting for everyone to arrive. We were handed glasses of champaign and warmly welcomed by the staff and team at del Lago and Portico. The room was dimly lit, warm and inviting. On the table were place cards with our names and even framed photos of our instagram profiles.
Once seated, I was served a wonderfully refreshing white wine from one of the local wineries in the area. I was given a special menu fully detailing each of the five courses I would be enjoying for dinner this evening.
For starters I enjoyed the “Tomato & Feta” salad. Arugula, Lively Run feta cheese, cucumbers, marinated olives, red pepper, and an oregano vinaigrette. It was a simple salad with wonderful flavors.
Next was a delicious Burrata Crostini. On top of a grilled garlic crostini was lovely burrata cheese, stone fruit, prosciutto, saba, and extra virgin olive oil. I am all in when it comes to burrata, add prosciutto and a garlic crostini and it’s game over for me. I was in heaven eating this course.
For the main course I had the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio. Coffee crusted and shaved wagyu, garlic aioli, arugula, shaved pecorino, romano cheese, and capers. A very delicate and lovely dish that I very much enjoyed. It was as if you could peel back strips of the wagyu, rolling it up and dragging it along the garlic aioli before taking a bite.
Next was my favorite course of the night. The Jumbo Scallops & Pork Belly. Two seared scallops, perfectly cooked pork belly, and grilled endives all set in a parsnip puree with sweetie drop peppers. This was such a perfect balance of flavors, each bite was better than the last and I was genuinely sad when it was gone.
For the final course and dessert was a rosemary and olive oil Cake with a basil and mascarpone mousse, blood orange sorbet, and white chocolate pieces.
Throughout dinner I was served both white and red wines to compliment each dish and my glass was never empty, not for my lack of trying but due to another example of the hospitality at Portico.
As wonderful as the food and company were, I have to say how impressed I was with the hospitality at del Lago. The staff had boxes with cookies for us to bring home and even a fun package containing all sorts of gifts from travel coffee mugs to flasks, notepads, and even a USB drive that looks like a wine bottle cork! This was truly a wonderful night at Portico with the Syracuse Eating Club and their Elite Membership Group.
I was also fortunate enough to be able to stay in the hotel at del Lago for the evening as I was driving on to Buffalo the next day. The hotel room was perfect and the extraordinary hospitality continued in this area of the resort. I had a large room with a king sized bed that was wonderful for a quick night away and would’ve also been perfect for an extended weekend stay. The wood floors in bathroom and marble countertops with the spa like amenities were a lovely touch and helped me to relax. There is even a digital tablet on the night table that was customized with my name and information and from which I was able to manipulate various controls in my room like the lighting and temperature. I was even able to order room service from the tablet and learn about the variety of games and restaurants available on-site.
Obviously I had to head down to the casino floor after dinner at Portico. After playing a little in the poker room and then at the blackjack table…well, let’s just say it was a very fun night!
I cannot recommend del Lago Resort & Casino, Portico by Fabio Viviani, or Alicia and the Syracuse Eating Club Elite Group enough. I had a wonderful time away with friends to eat, relax, and play. If you’re looking for a quick and easy trip away, I cannot think of anything better or closer.