Bragozzo Spices Up The Isle

Luke Palladino looked at his executive chef and told him what the media should eat when the first course of its lunch is served.

"We're going to do antipasto," he said.

That's one of the dishes Palladino perfected at restaurants in Atlantic City. Now, he's ready to share a taste of old Italy with south Mississippians.

"It's Italian soul food," he explained. "It's great quality ingredients prepared very simply with a lot of heart. That's the key to Italian food."

Palladino created Bragozzo. It's a name he discovered while living in Venice.

"Bragozzo is an 18th century Venetian fishing boat," he told the media. "I'm fascinated, I always have been with Venetian fishing boats and designs."

In the 21st century, Bragozzo is the centerpiece of the Isle of Capri's transformation from mid-level casino company to a big time player in the industry.

Bill Kilduff runs the Isle's Biloxi resort.

"Everything changes. And we're trying to change with everything," he said.

Kilduff admits the Isle probably spent more money creating Bragozzo and its ambiance than it has on any other project along Biloxi's eastern tip.

"We just decided that we wanted to improve our product," Kilduff said.

And so, Kilduff contacted Palladino, and a deal was negotiated.

Palladino is the first renowned chef to bring his recipes to Biloxi casinos. But he won't be the last. Beau Rivage is whipping up a kitchen for acclaimed chef Todd English. And people keep saying Emeril Lagasse could work out a deal to open one of his restaurants in south Mississippi. Palladino thinks he knows why there's a sudden interest.

"It's a great place to be. It's a great opportunity here. It's a growing market," he said. "And people from New Orleans all the way around the gulf coast, they love to eat. And they are very open minded about food. So, it's a natural for chefs to be here."

Great chefs, great food, and exciting casino action. Kilduff thinks it's the perfect recipe.

"Our goal here in this restaurant was to have the best restaurant, the best restaurant not only on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but between New Orleans and Florida," he said. "We spent a lot of money, got the right people, the right product. And we think it's going to be a great experience."

Bragozzo opens to the public this Wednesday at the Isle of Capri.