By Niesha Lofing
Talk about fan fare that's worth the fanfare.
Sacramento Kings fans will have a wider array of dining options at games this season thanks to a retooled menu offering everything from carved turkey sandwiches with cranberry aeoli to fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables.
The shift is due to a partnership between Maloof Sports & Entertainment and Levy Restaurants, the Chicago-based and James Beard award winning company that's behind the food at the STAPLES Center, Grammy Awards and Kentucky Derby.
"We wanted to feature a lot of local ingredients, local farmers," said Ryan Golpeo, Levy's director of operations at ARCO Arena. "It's a little different twist this year."
The company took over the arena's food service in January, but wanted to wait until the new season to implement the new menu. The new dishes, along with the traditional favorites, were unveiled today during a "Taste of ARCO" event.
Among the new offerings are Niman Ranch all-natural sausage sandwiches and burgers, carved turkey and roast beef sandwiches served with homemade chips, Chinese chicken salad, edamame with sea salt and an in-house made veggie burger.
At Skyline Restaurant, fans will find local, in-season vegetables with dipping sauces, fruit, farmstead cheeses (we spotted blue cheese, gouda, herbed chevre and brie) and cured meats.
"We have the opportunity to do things we didn't last year and take it to another level," said Gary Gainey, executive chef for Levy Restaurants at ARCO.
Boy did he.
Kimberly Morales, the food blogger behind Poor Girl Eats Well, and I sampled some of the dishes during the event. Among the notable things we tried - the Niman Ranch apple gouda sausage sandwich, carved sandwiches and the fresh vegetables and cheese.
Our favorite, however, was the veggie burger. Gainey said he's been carefully tinkering with the patty, which includes black beans, brown rice, beets, jalapeno and panko, to get it just right. "It's the love you put in the food that makes the difference," he said.
The veggie burger is topped with barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion on a whole wheat bun. The sauce sends it over the top, Morales and I agreed.
"It's a moist veggie burger, not the typical dried out veggie burger," she said.
Morales was impressed with the selection, from edamame with sea salt to the farmstead cheeses.
"It would actually make me want to eat at a Kings game, which I never, ever do," she said.
For those with a sweet tooth there's funnel fry dippers, sweet funnel cake in cigarette-size sticks. They're served with chocolate sauce (Morales suggested that strawberry sauce and whipped cream be added to round out the funnel cake experience) and are likely to be a hit with children and adults alike. (Speaking of kids, Levy also is rolling out a new Taste Club Kids' Meal, which includes Uncrustables sandwich, raisins and Capri Sun in a little cardboard carrying box).
Most of the new dishes will range from $5 to $10, with the exception of the The Big Cheese, a giant rip-and-dip garlic cheese bread that could serve 4 to 6 people and is $15.
The Kings will face Minnesota during the season opener next week. The Kings' first home game at ARCO is Nov. 1 against Toronto. Click here to check out The Bee's Kings blog.