There's always poker and slots talk at the Isle Casino and Racing, but now the Italian restaurant is speaking a new language: seafood, including lobster francaise.
The restaurant, called Bragozzo Osteria and Wine Bar, has revamped with a more sophisticated menu, says Mark Sicilia, Isle's senior director of hospitality. Checks should run about $32 per person, he says, while the average meal at the Isle's signature restaurant, Farradays steak house, costs about $44.
"We want to make this really an alternative to the steakhouse," Sicilia says. "And we'll likely continue to add more shellfish and seafood."
This is the fifth iteration for Bragozzo since it opened in 2007 on the casino's second floor near the poker room and the pari-mutuel wagering area. It originally was a high-end Italian restaurant, before changing into a more varied eatery with another name. In December 2011, the restaurant once again was called Bragozzo, only now it was a midpriced Italian restaurant. Casino patrons stayed away from it, Sicilia says, because of the perception it was too low-end. Bragozzo adopted a Mediterranean-oriented menu in March 2013.
Now, in comes Italian chef Mario Amato, a Palermo, Italy, native who started his career at three Italian hotels before arriving in the United States. He has worked at Milano Ristorante in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Bellini by Cipriani in Manhattan; and Vesuvio Italian Restaurant in Pompano Beach.
"Throughout Mario's career, he has kept to his Italian roots," Sicilia says. "He creates delicious, authentic fare."
To Bragozzo's menu, Amato has added salmon alla vodka ($24) and lobster francaise ($25), a lightly battered lobster tail with lemon-butter sauce and wilted spinach over capellina pasta that is among the restaurant's most popular dishes. Appetizers include grilled octopus and baked clams ($10 each). Four kinds of chicken — piccata, Parmesan, Marsala and Milanese — cost $20 each. The same four veal dishes cost $26.
As is the case at all Isle restaurants — the casino also boasts Myron's Delicatessen and the Farmer's Pick buffet — some Bragozzo menu items are grown at the Isle's on-site garden and hydroponic nursery. That includes arugula, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, basil and parsley.
Sicilia notes that the Isle has a diverse wine menu that has won Wine Spectator's award of excellence four times, as well as notice from Diner's Choice and Open Table.
The restaurant's hours are 5-10 p.m. daily except for Wednesday and Thursday, when Bragozzo is closed. Call 877-713-5311 or go to TheIslePompanoPark.com.