An elevated experience
By Kimberly Nichols
Ticketholders of this year’s BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens will find not only stellar matches but also a bevy of dining options featuring highly acclaimed chefs and tasty cuisine. Far from your traditional stadium fare, these offerings go above and beyond to deliver an exceptional experience integral to what Bloomberg has called the most alluring atmosphere of any tennis event. Even better, all of these restaurants feature prime viewing of the action happening on the courts below.
Award-winning valley favorite Wally’s Desert Turtle will return to Stadium 2, bringing along some new delicious dishes for the menu. Think elegant contemporary cuisine that will not only elevate the palate but also the sporting experience. Menu items include Honolulu blue fin tartare, Montrechet goat cheese and smoked bacon & leek tart, beet Roquefort salad, Creekstone black angus burger, and wild mushroom ravioli. Diners who can’t get enough can keep their ticket stubs or credentials from the tournament and visit Wally’s renowned Rancho Mirage location to receive a free soufflé with a purchase of any entrée.
Although we saw the passing of noted, beloved desert restaurateur Piero Pierattoni last year, his wife, Sheri, will continue to operate Pizza Vino’s space offering authentic Neapolitan pies baked in an 800-degree Italian wood-burning oven. An outdoor patio area has become a fan favorite for sipping a glass of wine while enjoying a bowl of Napoli-style meatballs spiked with thyme, crispy Brussels sprouts with Chef Erick’s special sauce, or fried squash blossoms—all while peering down into Stadium Plaza. The menu will also feature a selection of “bests” from the restaurant’s popular Palm Desert location including the refreshing Tuscan wedge and various Italian wraps.
For more wood-burning oven pizzas, albeit with a more contemporary California influence, visitors can travel over to Stadium 1 where unprecedented views of the game below accompany Wolfgang Puck’s famous Beverly Hills Spago cuisine. Creative toppings include duck with oregano and chili, and salmon with crème fraiche and dill. Guests will also be thrilled to find Puck’s world-renowned weinerschnitzel on the menu as well as the addictive Spago chopped salad. Fresh pasta offerings include spring pea agnolotti and there’s also lobster and truffle risotto.
Tennis aficionados looking for a fine-dining experience can visit Stadium 1 and Nobu, where James Beard award-winning chef Nobu Matsuhisa will bring his Malibu restaurant’s signature dishes for a gourmet sports-watching experience. For the sixth year in a row, guests can dine on traditional Japanese dishes with South American ingredients or indulge at the high-end sushi bar, dining on sashimi and rolls accentuated with Nobu’s creative offerings such as his much-loved yellowtail jalapeno. Specialty desserts include the Bento Box Warm Chocolate Soufflé Cake, Banana Caramel Soy Tobanyaki, and Warm Pistachio Soufflé, all providing the perfect way to cap off an extraordinary meal.
Kimberly Nichols is a staff writer with Desert Golf & Tennis