A few hours before the first pitch of the Dodgers vs. Phillies game Wednesday, Tommy Lasorda sat eating a bowl of meatballs smothered in red sauce at a table behind Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria, one of the new concession stands at Dodger stadium. People stopped to stare at the former Dodgers third-base coach and team manager while he ate, pointing to pictures of Lasorda with President Reagan, Frank Sinatra and Duke Snider on the wall of the restaurant behind him.
Lasorda, who said the meatballs are almost as good as his mother's, vouched for the food. "I would never ever in my life put my name on something that wasn't properly done," he said. "If you don't like these [meatballs] you don't like Christmas or Easter."
The meatballs and penne are one of the signature dishes at Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria, located in a new plaza behind the visiting team's bullpen in right field. You can grab a bite on your way to your seat or sit at one of the new blue tables under umbrellas.
Lasorda collaborated on the menu with Dodger stadium executive chef Jason Tingley, who's worked at the now closed L'Orangerie,
At Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria, Tingley is making jumbo slices of pizza with glistening pepperoni, a chicken Parmesan sub covered in marinara, a spicy Italian sausage sandwich with peppers and onions, bowls of penne with red sauce topped with mounds of meatballs and traditional cannoli and gelato for dessert. Everything is priced at $5 to $10.
"You have to try this meatball!" Lasorda yelled to a man at his table with a mouth full of meatballs. "No, really, only if it's just one bite."
A brief walk down a pathway is another new plaza where people dressed in Dodgers jerseys walked away from the new Think Blue Bar-B-Que restaurant, juggling large soft drinks and BBQ brisket sandwiches. The new barbecue joint, like Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria, has a blue, white and red facade and started serving on opening day.
At Think Blue Bar-B-Que, Tingley created a barbecue brisket sandwich with a heaping portion of 12-hour slow-cooked brisket, a tangy barbecue sauce, red onions and plenty of sour pickle slices on a fluffy flour-dusted roll. You can order the monster sandwich on its own or as a platter with two elote, the popular Mexican street food of grilled corn on a stick slathered with cheese and a mixture of seasonings.
You can also order a Louisiana hot sausage topped with blue cheese coleslaw.
Both restaurants are part of an effort by Levy Restaurants, the Chicago-based company behind all the food and beverage operations at the stadium, to expand and revamp the food offerings this year. Levy also remodeled some of the concession stands and introduced new items such as Philly cheesesteaks with curling slivers of meat, grilled peppers and onions and slices of Provolone cheese on a roll.
Full bars with televisions have also popped up in the new plazas serving cocktails inspired by Dodgers history, including the Brooklyn Ice Tea made with Ketel One vodka, Meyers Platinum rum, Tanqueray gin, Sauz hornitos Gold tequila, triple sec and a splash of cola.
It's not exactly your grandfather's Dodger stadium, or even remotely close to what the stadium looked like a couple of years ago. But if you're someone who grew up on the signature Dodger dog, nothing fancy required, you can still get your fill of those too.