Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and good morning from the River Rock Casino and Resort! I’m here for a pre-birthday Staycation (my 28th year is upon me in a week) and brought my sister and friends Heather and Jillian along for the night. Last night we dined at Tramonto, won $1.65 at the casino, and saw Mike Tyson. As you do, as you do.
First – dinner. Tramonto is a fine-dining Italian restaurant in the River Rock, located on the third floor with views of the river.
With last night’s gusty winds and rain, we were glad to be cozied up inside at a lovely table.
Speaking of lovely, look at the three beauties I got to dine with!
We drank two bottles of wine: a 2006 Deep Creek Pinot Noir, and 2006 Seven Stones Meritage. They were both wonderful, but I particularly liked the rusty red Pinot Noir.
For dinner, we started with an adorable amuse bouche – an espresso cup filled with pureed mushroom soup and topped with shaved parmesan, crème fraiche, and truffle oil. It was gorgeously rich, smooth, and creamy.
For starters, we split the arancini ($11), beet and buffalo mozzarella salad ($13), and scallops ($17).
Arancini are one of the restaurant’s nods to southern Italy; they’re a classic Sicilian snack, balls of risotto coated in bread crumbs and deep-fried. They’re called arancini because they look similar to small oranges, and are often filled with ragu, cheese, and/or peas. Tramonto’s version had mozzarella and chorizo, a spicy roasted red pepper puree, and microgreens.
They were so good, with cheese oozing out, a perfectly crisp exterior, and smoky sauce providing just the right amount of flavour and heat. These are a must-order at Tramonto.
The beet and mozzarella di bufala with arugula was bright and fresh, and I appreciated the more predominant use of beets rather than out-of-season tomatoes. The greens and beets were just right, but I found the cheese was a little soft and lacking in flavour; this is probably just a matter of imported buffalo mozzarella not being as high in quality as I’d prefer.
The scallops came with pork chips, green asparagus, black truffle, and tomato chutney. They had an impressively caramelized sear, and were especially nice with the tomato chutney. This is just how I like to eat scallops – in small, flavour-packed bites.
Next was a refreshing palate cleanser of green apple sorbet and Prosecco.
We split four entrees: the sturgeon ($35), pork ($33), cannelloni ($25), and gnocchi ($25).
We’d all laughed and squirmed when we saw sturgeon on the menu, because, oddly enough, we’d been discussing sturgeon just an hour before. Jillian and Heather have a mutual fear of these monstrous fish, and Heather had never seen this famous photo of a sturgeon caught in BC by a couple from the UK. They truly are prehistoric-looking beasts, and we’d had a lengthy discussion about how terrifying it is to think of them swimming below us while we swim in lakes and rivers. Then BOOM! There they were on our dinner menu. Of course we had no choice but to order it.
And guess what – while they might look capable of eating you, they’re quite tasty things to be eaten. The mild flesh was meaty and dense, and the kitchen had seasoned it perfectly. The dish came with a parsnip puree, mushrooms, swiss chard, and sunchokes – all great, seasonal tastes.
The pork was a brined Gelderman Farms pork chop with roasted cauliflower potato hash, pork chips, and apple Madeira reduction. This was a dish with beautiful flavour and textural contrasts, and rich without being overwhelming.
The cannelloni was something we all agreed needed to be shared, as none of us would have been able to tackle it solo. It was three sheets of pasta stuffed with braised beef short rib, wilted arugula, honshemiji mushrooms, balsamic glazed cipollini onion, and truffle jus. It was incredibly good (everything I love about braised meat), but also incredibly rich.
The gnocchi came with Italian sausage meatballs, caramelized onions, wild mushrooms, sugar snap peas, Pinot Grigio cream sauce, and arugula. By the time I tried it I was nearly tipping off my chair with fullness, but I really liked it nonetheless. It’s perfect winter food – creamy sauce, soft gnocchi, bright crunchy snap peas, and really tasty sausage meatballs, which made the dish.
We split two desserts – first, the Dark Chocolate Praline Cake with Valhrona chocolate ganache, praline crunch, and salted bitter caramel gelato. The long, narrow cake was covered in a flawless pour of shiny ganache, and everything about it was refined and decadent. It also came with a birthday wish!
Our favourite of the two was the Macadamia Caramel Tart, with its piping of barely-sweet bitter chocolate mousse and scoop of amaretto gelato. It made me wonder why more people aren’t making amaretto gelato – it was so good!
Thank you to Tramanto and Tracy, our server, for an exceptional meal. After we’d finished, we wandered down to the casino, where I played one slot machine and cashed out after a record-breaking $1.65 win. Still in a food coma cloud, we decided to head back up to our room, and noticed a crowd had gathered by the escalators. We remembered that Mike Tyson had been performing in the resort’s theatre that evening, and they were all his fans.
Just seconds after I’d said “Aaahhhh, I wanna see Mike Tyson before we go to bed!” he walked past. Directly past us, on his way to have his photo taken with the huge crowd of fans. Heather was a little disappointed “he didn’t have his tigers with him,” but we managed to get a few decent photos by riding the escalator down. Strategy, people, it’s all about strategy.
Satisfied with our heavyweight-sighting, we headed back up to our room, cozied in, and watched a movie. Such a good pre-birthday birthday!! I’m a lucky gal. Thanks to the River Rock Casino and Resort for putting us up, to Tramonto for a fabulous dinner, and to Mike Tyson for visiting Richmond just so I could see him.
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available