Casino Opens: 13 restaurants

A sneak preview of the foods of the new Graton Casino

It’s like coming full circle,” says Nick Peyton, wearing a DK Wings apron and handing out Japanese pickles and chicken wings to a crowd of reporters at the soon-to-open Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park. The former partner and maitre d’hotel at the Michelin-starred Cyrus in Healdsburg (which shuttered in 2012), says one of his very first jobs was working at a Reno casino, and he’s glad to be back working with Chef Douglas Keane at the fried chicken, wings and pickle eatery.

Nick Peyton of DK Wings

With the opening of 13 restaurants on Nov. 5, BiteClub got a first bite of all of them in a whirlwind two hour tour. And the heartburn to prove it.

Here’s the lowdown on some faves so far:

DK Wings: Doug Keane doesn’t do anything half-way. He’s got an incredible set of pressure fryers for moist, crispy chicken wings and fried chicken along with homemade pickled carrots, beets, kimchee and other fermented goodies inspired by his love of Japanese cuisine. With most plates well under $10.

Roadside BBQ: Follow the scent trail of their woodfired smoker to great smoked chicken, ribs and stuffed potatoes. Sides aren’t an afterthought, with creamy mac and cheese and tart, flavorful coleslaw.

Slice House: One of two Tony Gemignani restaurants in the casino, this casual walk-up has true New York slices, stromboli and calzones and baked ziti that put other pizzerias to shame.

Tony’s of North Beach: A mural of Gemignani’s SF restaurant (complete with a line out the door) is the focal point, proclaiming for those not in the know that this this young chef is truly a pie-master (he is the eight-time world pizza champion after all). Don’t ask for pepperoni here, though. Gemignani’s pizzas — from a simple margherita to progressive thin-crusted Roman pizzas (savory to sweet slices) — have just the right amount of crisp and gentle char to make you swear off Friday night pizza delivery forever. Plus, homemade pastas, meatballs the size of your fist and a Kobe beef burger we’re dying to try.

What you won’t see, however, is the staff cafeteria deep within the casino where up to 2,200 employees get free meals daily. It’s an impressive buffet with everything from burritos and French macaroons to sweet and sour chicken, a salad bar, and even morning coffee and cereal. Not a bad deal.


32 thoughts on “Casino Opens: 13 restaurants

  1. I’m just wondering if you have to walk through the smoke-filled casino to get to the restaurants – and if smoking sections are allowed in the restaurants? Might have been interested in trying the pizza place but the thought of leaving the place smelling like smoke is a major barrier. No food is worth that.

    1. You don’t have to walk through the casino to get to any of the sit-down restaurants. All have exterior entrances. i don’t think any of the restaurants have smoking sections, including the marketplace.

      It can be a bit smoky at the heart of the casino, or where people are blowing smoke out into the perimeter, but they have a really good ventilation system, so we didn’t feel like it was overpowering.

      If you’re super sensitive, then i’d stick to exterior entrances. I didn’t feel like I smelled like smoke when I left.

  2. How about listing the other food choices that are here? You title this “13 restaurants” and then only discuss your “4 favs so far.” All I’m asking is that you list the other 9 restaurants, even if there’s no other comment about them.

      1. Thanks! I had missed your earlier posting. And, as I said, I didn’t expect you to write about the others, just the listing of the others, which you’ve now provided. So, thanks again.

      2. Had dinner at the Grill, hour wait but awesome food !!! Loved our staff while waiting, we could even order drinks in line while waiting, tried their Diamond Tequila, smooth, expensive shot but now we can say we’ve tried it.

  3. Regina – thanks for reminding me of all the reasons a place like this is just the wrong place for me to go. You saved me a disappointing trip. I guess I still want to think a place like that can be fun and tasty.

    I watched the PD video of the inside of the casino and saw it has a rug that looks like it was ripped off the floor of a seventies Vegas place complete with old style floral design. I guess that way the Casino will outgas that ancient kitty litter smoke smell from day one. I can live without that.

    I’m ready to never set my foot in the whole town of RP again.

    Greg Sarris should be embarassed.

  4. The 3 Guido Grinder sandwich at Tony’s Slice House was well worth getting, very tasty.
    We’ll try some sit down resto’s next time, it was way to crowded when we went.
    I don’t gamble, so I could care less about that, just wanted to see the food choices.
    Sounds like Mike and Regina shared a bottle of locally sourced bitter whine…….

  5. O for heavens sake. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. Constructive criticism is one thing, blatant hating is another.

    How each one of the restaurants run their business is up to them to decide. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. For the folks here in RPK with only chain restaurants locally, it’s delight to have The 3 Twins or Martin Yan to take the chance and open up something outside of their home district.

    The 3 Twins have been running a locally sustained ice cream production for several years in Marin County and Petaluma. Someone with the local bona fides as Nick Peyton and Doug Keane aren’t just doing this because they feel like it.

    RPK is going to benefit–it’s another opportunity, for jobs, for business growth, especially since State Farm is gone. If you don’t like casinos, you don’t want to try something different, do us a favor and stay away.

  6. Regina – Good, you won’t be back. Obviously you spent all your time in the gaming section and completely missed the fine dining while staying in the “food court”. I’ll wager you were one of the folks calling 911 from the garage because traffic was to slow.

    Mike – Actually the vast majority of the food IS sourced locally.

    Before making uneducated guesses and accusations, maybe take a walk through the place and see exactly what’s there. Other stuff than gambling too. Don’t take Regina though, she couldn’t find the non smoking areas (1/3 the building…) OR the fine restaurants.

  7. I went last night to check it out. I can’t believe that anyone interested in farm to table sustainable food and living will eat here. By the time, you enter the casino and find one of the restaurants, your hair and clothes are covered in the filth of second hand smoke. You have to throw your clothes in the laundry and take a shower as soon as you come home.
    Just imagine mobs of smokers sitting, standing, moving through more mobs of smokers…smoking one cigarette after another madly pushing bills into machines non-stop. Not my idea of fine dining. A wine country view, what view…the food court looks like a typical shopping mall food court. Honestly, I didn’t make it in there. The tables filled with smokers and gamblers eating food as fast as they could to return to the slots. I didn’t even attempt to try. The non-smoking areas are filled with smokers. Secuirty could care less. They walk right by them. This morning I woke up with a migraine and I’ve lost my sense of taste. I was in the casino no more than 1 hour. I will never set foot on that property again. I truly feel sorry for the people of Rohnert Park. Truly sorry. I’m so glad I live in Santa Rosa and don’t have to go down to that area. Don’t waste your time, your health, or your money.

    1. Regina, no doubt the Casino is not for you. Luckily, the majority of places in California cater to your needs. But, it seems there is a major demand for what the casino has to offer for many in Northern California.

    2. Oh Regina you poor dainty little damsel in distress:) Do yourself a favor and stay away.Let the young happy fun loving crowds go there and you just stay there in Santa Rosa being perfect:)

  8. Regina – Good, you won’t be back. Obviously you spent all your time in the gaming section and completely missed the fine dining while staying in the “food court”. I’ll wager you were one of the folks calling 911 from the garage because traffic was to slow.

    Mike – Actually the vast majority of the food IS sourced locally.

    Before making uneducated guesses and accusations, maybe take a walk through the place and see exactly what’s there. Other stuff than gambling too. Don’t take Regina though, she couldn’t find the non smoking areas (1/3 the building…) OR the fine restaurants.

    1. i think its unfortunate to think that way. i could care less about the gaming aspect, but i think that many restaurants opening in a single venue…many of which are local and will employee local folks is kind of a big deal. i also think it will up the profile of sonoma county as a destination (whether you’re a casino lover or not) and that’s a good thing too.

      1. I agree. I was surprised to see so many local chefs and purveyors (Three Twins Ice Cream, for example) in place there. Good stuff. Looking forward to checking it out when the madness dies down.

      2. Yes, but you are being selective in your attempt to put a positive spin on this project. I would wager that very little of what is being served in the casino restaurants is sourced locally. Okay, so some beets show up in a salad and maybe some local cheese on a cheese plate. But overall it will be conventional ingredients sourced from corporate food companies. This is solely a for profit enterprise without any regard for the local community. Just wait until the poor people of Rohnert Park realize that their quality of life has been greatly reduced by the impact of this project: Traffic, pollution, underpaid unskilled jobs and the flight of families who are concerned about the world their children grow up in. It surprises me, that you, as a writer focusing on local food issues have been duped by this project. I guess there is a lot of advertising revenue to be gained. Next time you have the inclination to think locally consider the adjacent farms that are negatively effected. By the way, they are local.

        1. The “poor people of Rohnert Park”??? The ones who allowed this travesty to ruin Sonoma County? What will the wineries do when people don’t feel like braving the casino traffic to get up to that part of the county? Marin has MALT, a group dedicated to preserving its beauty forever…something we have lost FOREVER. Why? Because Rohnert Park gave such insanely generous pensions to its city employees, there was only one way out to keep paying those giant pensions…sell out to a fake Indian tribe…which was really the big boys in Vegas…congrats to the “poor people of Rohnert Park”

          1. I am old enough to remember how repulsed all of us were when Rohnert Park was built. Petaluma…..Penngrove and Cotati found the concept absolutely revolting…..little box shaped houses among the quaint pastoral beauty of Penngrove and Cotati.People used to call it Rodent Park it was so reviled.

          2. Completely agree, but one thing, the people of RP nor Sonoma County neither voted for this mess. The Democrat Governor and Barbara Boxer did a deal with the Native Americans. And it’s disgusting.

        2. WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL. Rodent Park was awful before the casino and will likely stay awful. There ahs not been an attraction in RP since the In-N-Out went in. Rohnert Park is the perfect place in Sonoma County for a Casino.

          1. It is not what happens to Rohnert Park, it is what happens to the businesses NORTH of there if traffic remains a mess. It is what happens to commuters who already spend up to 5 hours a day going from Sonoma County to San Francisco thanks to the existing traffic. It is what happened to a once beautiful agrarian community, this is just the final insult in a long list of decimations.

        3. LMAO at Mike ” The Drama Queen”. Posts like this completely undermine the opposition to this project. It makes the opposition look uneducated , irrational and completely crazy.

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