By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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You Gotta Try This is the Rock River Current’s dining feature focused on signature dishes at your favorite local restaurants. Want to see one of your favorites here? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to suggest a local staple.
Address: 610 N. Bell School Road, Rockford
Opened: Nov. 10, 2021
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
You have to try: Wood-fired pizza
What’s in it: We had the lasagna pizza, which comes topped with mozzarella and ricotta cheese, meatballs, sausage and light tomato sauce
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Photos: Midway Bar at A Hard Rock Opening Act in Rockford
Why you should try it: Head Chef Tino Salazar, who grew up in Rockford and has more than 20 years experience in the restaurant industry, has autonomy to tinker with the menu at both restaurants inside A Hard Rock Opening Act to deliver some unique creations.
“Because we’re An Opening Act, and these restaurants aren’t in a typical Hard Rock, we have more creative freedom over what we’d like to make and create,” said Lorie Moran, the Rockford Casino’s director of food and beverage.
While Salazar will make creative specials like a shrimp po boy, he says less is more when it comes to the Neapolitan style pizza.
“The fewer ingredients the better on these pizzas,” he said. “The old-school cooking in a brick oven, you’ve got the firewood, you get the blisters from the heat on the dough, so it starts bubbling up and you get the burn marks on it. That’s what you’re looking for.”
The key is in the dough, which is handmade in-house every two days to keep it fresh, Salazar said.
That personal care is true across Midway’s menu, Moran said, including the hand-pattied smashburgers that anchor feasts like the Midway Burger, which comes double stacked with bacon, cheddar cheese, shaved red onion, lettuce, tomato and the Midway sauce.
“(We’re) really putting the time and effort into making both the restaurants really nice restaurants that even if somebody’s not a gambler that they would still want to come and eat,” Moran said.
Pro tip: Midway Bar is the casino’s casual dining option. If you want to shell out a few extra bucks for a fancier feast you can choose the casino’s other restaurant, Rock River Bar & Grill. There you’ll find tender prime bone-in ribeye steaks and more.
Note: Because the restaurants are connected to the casino, you must be 21 to enter.