What do you get when you have three friends, four hours of sleep, one shower, two beds, and three massive hangovers? The answer is brunch at Todd English’s Tuscany at Mohegan Sun. The restaurant beckoned to us from beneath the waterfall and the glowing Chihuly sculpture and after a night of Krispy Kreme, we couldn’t say no to their hearty breakfast specials.
The restaurant has an inside and an inside-outside part to it, with a balcony by the waterfall. We sat out by the water and perused the menu. Three things stuck out like sore thumbs (and by that, I mean that I bullied my two guests into ordering them so I could sample everything), the castagnaccio pancakes, Tuscan smoked pork, and breakfast risotto.
Miss Love ordered the castagnaccios, pancakes made with chestnuts and pine nuts, a rosemary honey mascarpone and pecan-fig jam topping, and chestnut syrup. The pancakes were very fluffy and not too dense with the nuts mixed in, diner-style pancakes with a chewy crust sweet flavor. With the toppings, the powdered sugar seemed superfluous, but the flavors were able to shine through in each element. The mascarpone sauce was our favorite, but the pecan notes got lost in the jammy fig flavors.
None of us knew what to expect from Dillinger’s dish, the Tuscan smoked pork and apple pierogies. I thought it would be more of a shredded, Mexican-style pork with Italian flavors, and Miss Love expected a thinly sliced charcuterie meat. Imagine our surprise to see the huge slabs of roasted pork shoulder, smoky and tender. There had to be at least a pound of meat there. Needless to say, it was tough to finish! The crispy pork, flavored with rosemary and a sweet smokiness, came with a side of apple pierogies, another fascinating menu item. The pierogies were hearty, but tasted a little like fried apple pies with a sweet filling. It would have been nice to see the Italian flavors transcend to this side as well, perhaps with an apple, sage and fontina filling? It was still a very clever dish.
However, it was my breakfast risotto that visually stole the show and baffled us all. The moment I saw it on the menu, I knew I wanted it. And oddly enough, the most unusual dish seemed to be the most healthy of them all. After all, it’s not every day that you get to order maple-glazed lobster, steel cut oats, and cranberries. Atkins meets Bellagio? It was a quirky dish, to say the least. To its credit, everything was cooked perfectly, despite the risotto not being…well, risotto. And I love lobster, and I love oatmeal. I’m just not sure that I love them together. The sweet, buttery flavors of the lobster clashed with the underseasoned oats, creamy on their own but seasoned with little more than a dusting of scallions and the cranberries were nowhere to be found. I wanted to like this dish, but it just didn’t come together as I thought it would. I would have liked to see more zest, more seasoning- a maple, sage, and brown sugar Arborio risotto with soy and sugar-glazed lobster and scallions with toasted pine nuts. It had the potential to be exciting, but came off as over the top without exceeding expectations.
I definitely want to try Tuscany again- I’m a huge fan of Todd English’s other restaurants and am pleased to see him set up in Connecticut. And I think that this brunch menu has massive potential but needs some tightening up. Perhaps they do a better savory spread. In any case, it was a hearty breakfast to start the day with, and we appreciated the extra flair and class in the design.