by Alexis Ann
photos by Jessica Warzeniak
So, the weather outside is frightful… but the coal-fired brick ovens at Pepe’s Pizza are so d-e-l-i-g-h-t-f-u-l. Since the sun’s always shining at Mohegan Sun.…It’s always the place to go! So, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
What? Snow in July? Well, not quite! But, Santa did pay a visit on July 1st, for the re-opening celebration of the Winter Entrance complete with three major new dining outlets: Bobby’s Burger Palace (BBP) by Bobby Flay, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana and Fidelia’s Market featuring Jasper White’s Summer Shack Express and The Original SoupMan featuring the world famous soups of New York’s Al Yeganeh which inspired the Seinfeld episode, among others.
Before the well-attended ceremony began, Mitchell Etess, President and CEO, Mohegan Sun, announced the passing of “A beloved member of our executive team, Rocco Santoro, VP of Table Games.” Mitchell asked for a moment of silence in honor of Rocco Santoro, who was killed in an auto accident in Florida the previous weekend. He sent his condolences to the Family of Rocco Santoro.
“We are thrilled to be re-opening the Winter Entrance and know that many of our guests are just as excited,” said Mitchell. “Now, not only will there be more convenient parking for guests, but inside the newly-modeled entrance, guests will have their choice of a variety of new restaurants from names like Bobby Flay, Pepe’s Pizza, Jasper White and The Original SoupMan. We are extremely thrilled to welcome them into the Mohegan Sun Family, and I have to say, who could ask for a better lineup?”
Next, Mitchell introduced Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe. “Welcome back to The Winter,” announced the Chairman. “Last year we opened the third wonder of the Sun…Casino of the Wind and today, I’m happy to welcome everyone here with us to celebrate something that’s a part of our past and something that will guide us into a brighter future.”
Chairman Bruce introduced the Tribal Council and Tribal Elders. “As many of you know the Winter Entrance was one of our first doorways that many people walked through to get into Mohegan Sun Casino back in 1996 when we first opened. It was also the local entrance favored by the community.” Two Dogs thanked the folks for their support throughout the years and members of the Tribe for their patience during the construction period.
Design of the overall space, as well as BBP, was done by the Rockwell Group. Inspiration for the revamped food court was based on a famous Tribal legend about Granny Squannit, a spirit who believed in the healing powers of herbs. Warm oranges and reds were used in the space, while a giant skylight capped with glass and metal-crafted chandeliers help to create an airy atmosphere.
Just a few steps away from Fidelia’s Market is BBP by Bobby Flay. “This is my first restaurant in the New England market and I have to say, I don’t think I could have picked a better location,” said Bobby Flay. “The opening of BBP is just step-one in this relationship. I can’t wait to be back here to open Bar Americain this fall.”
Bobby’s Burger Palace
Located adjacent to the new Fidelia’s Market, Bobby’s Burger Palace (BBP) presents an array of burgers inspired by Bobby Flay’s extensive travels throughout America and his love of the grill in a convenient and casual setting. The 4,100 square-foot restaurant, which seats 83, pays tribute to America’s regional flavors and traditions.
Guests can enjoy delicious burgers such as the Dallas Burger (Spice Crusted, Coleslaw, Monterey Jack, BBQ Sauce and Pickles) and the Miami Burger (Pressed with Ham, Swiss Cheese, Pickles, Mustard and Mayonnaise) along with a side of fries served with BBP Fry Sauce. Salads, Milkshakes & Malteds along with a variety of other beverages, are all on the menu too.
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
One of the oldest and most respected pizzerias in the United States opened up shop at Mohegan Sun. The 3,800 square-foot dine-in and take-out eatery, with seating for 110, will take up the full eastern portion of Fidelia’s Market.
Pepe’s Pizza is known for originating the New Haven-style thin-crust pizza which is baked in coal-fired brick ovens. The renowned pizzeria is also particularly known for its innovation of the white pizza topped with freshly- shucked clams.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with one of the best names in the industry,” said Francis Rosselli, one of Frank Pepe’s grandchildren. “My grandfather would be extremely proud of this historic moment.”
Jasper White’s Summer Shack Express
Eight years after opening his first restaurant at Mohegan Sun, Jasper White is doing it again! Summer Shack Express is a quick-service eatery offering the same level of excellent seafood and New England recipes available in Summer Shack, but converted in to a quick-service environment.
Guests can enjoy favorites like chowder, fish and chips, as well as, freshly-shucked oysters, cherrystones and little necks at the Express’ four-seat Oyster Bar. Lobster rolls, fried oysters, clam cakes and steamed lobsters are also staples on the menu. Summer Shack Express also offers live lobsters packed to travel for guests on-the-go who’d like to cook their lobsters at home
Woodland Wok & Chief’s Bagels, Subs & Sweets
Woodland Wok is back and the quick-bites eatery will serve a variety of Asian-inspired dishes. Another favorite, Chief’s Bagels, Subs & Sweets moved locations and expanded their menu. The 24/7 quick-service restaurant, serves a variety of hot and cold sandwiches.
COMING SOON: The Original SoupMan
Al Yeganeh, whose persona and soup abruptly went international with the 1995 airing of the famous “soup” episode on Seinfeld which featured a character based on Yeganeh, will open a new restaurant at Mohegan Sun this August. The quick-service restaurant will feature 50 varieties of Yeganeh’s Zagat-rated soups plus an assortment of fresh salads, hot NY deli sandwiches, paninis and smoothies.