New Dodger Stadium plazas a huge hit with fans

Anyone who has been to Dodger Stadium this season has undoubtedly noticed the two new plazas located at the Left Field and Right Field entrances to the stadium. And anyone who has checked out these new plazas has quickly discovered that they are THE place to hang out before and after the games.

The Bullpen Overlook Bars are THE place to meet and hangout before and after Dodger games. (Photo credit - Ron Cervenka)

The Bullpen Overlook Bars are extremely popular with Dodger fans.

While the Bullpen Overlook Bars draw most of the pre and post-game attention, the Think Blue Bar-B-Que and Tommy Lasorda’s Italian Trattoria concession stands located at the Left Field and Right Field entrances respectively offer the best fare at Dodger Stadium – bar none. Oh sure, you can get Dodger Dogs, garlic fries, chocolate malts, Cool-A-Coos, beer, soft drinks and the like at just about any concession stand throughout Dodger Stadium, but nothing compares to the great food at the two plaza eateries.

Like all concession stands at Dodger Stadium, the two plaza eateries are operated by Levy Restaurants, who also operate the concessions at Wrigley Field, PNC Park, Nationals Park, Chase Field, Marlins Park and several minor league ballparks. And while a hot dog is a hot dog (including the highly touted Farmer John Dodger Dog), the quality of the food and the number of menu item choices offered at the respective Dodger Stadium plazas are definitely in a league of their own.

“This is really good!” said longtime Left Field Pavilion season ticket holder Steve Mears after taking his first bite of a barbecue beef sandwich. “The meat is so thick and tender and the barbecue sauce is great!”

Even LA Times Dodgers beat reporter Dylan Hernandez who makes a habit out of criticizing Levy’s offerings at Dodger Stadium spoke highly of the pizza offered at Tommy Lasorda’s Trattoria – well, as highly as you can expect from Hernandez:

Such an endorsement from Dylan Hernandez is like an 'Off the Hook' rating from Guy Fieri.  (Twitter image courtesy of @dylanohernandez)

Such an endorsement from Dylan Hernandez is like an ‘Off the Hook’ rating from Guy Fieri.
(Twitter image courtesy of @dylanohernandez)

It’s no wonder that the food at Think Blue Bar-B-Que and Lasorda’s Italian Trattoria are top restaurant quality, it is prepared daily at the hands of Chef Jason Tingley and his talented crew. Tingley, a native of Los Angeles, joined Levy in 2009 as an Executive Sous Chef.  A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Tingley perfected his skills at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, as a Sous Chef for Bistro Margot in Chicago and as a Pastry Cook at Patina in Hollywood. He also mastered his seafood skills at the Water Grill in downtown Los Angeles. Tingle has received many excellent reviews for his work and was featured on segments of the long-running Elmer Dills television show. He is in his third season as Dodger Stadium’s Executive Chef.

In addition to everyday menus at Think Blue BBQ and Tommy Lasorda's Italian Trattoria, Chef Jason Tingley creates specialties for each home series. (Photo courtesy of L.A. Dodgers)

In addition to everyday menu items at Think Blue Bar-B-Que and Tommy Lasorda’s Italian Trattoria, Chef Jason Tingley creates specialty items for each home series.
(Image courtesy of L.A. Dodgers)

As most fans are well aware, food prices at MLB ballparks can be a little on the high side (okay, a lot on the high side) and Dodger Stadium is no exception. But to be fair, the food prices at both plaza locations aren’t all that unreasonable for the quality and quantity of food that you get.

For $12 you can get this barbecue beef brisket sandwich with potato salad and coleslaw. The drink is extra, of course. (Photo credit - Ron Cervenka)

For $12 you can get this barbecue beef brisket sandwich with potato salad and coleslaw. The drink is extra, of course.

If there is one downside to the new plaza eateries it’s that they are a serious blow to the existing concession stands in the Left Field Pavilion which have always had a very limited menu. In fact, business has dropped off so much at the LFP concession stands that fewer employees are being called into work and on many occasions only one of the two concession stands is open for business.

“We’ve had to cutback on the number of people we call in,” said one longtime LFP Levy employee. “We’re using about half the number of people we used to use and we only open up the second stand when we’re expecting a large crowd.”

Lines at the Left Field Pavilion concession stands are almost non-existent anymore, even during the games. (Photo credit - Ron Cervenka)

Lines at the Left Field Pavilion concession stands are almost non-existent anymore, which may be good for fans but not so good from a business standpoint.

On the other hand, business is booming at Think Blue BBQ and Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria. (Photo credit - Ron Cervenka)

On the other hand, business is booming at Think Blue Bar-B-Que and Tommy Lasorda’s Trattoria.

So what are my personal favorites at Think Blue Bar-B-Que and Tommy Lasorda’s? Well it’s hard to beat that barbecue beef sandwich platter, except perhaps by adding an ear of Mexican style Elote (corn on the cob) that is out of this world. The corn is covered with a sweet and creamy cheese sauce and is served on a stick.

The Mexican style Elote (corn on the cob) is outstanding and 'cued up daily at Think Blue BBQ.

The Mexican style Elote is outstanding and ‘cued up daily at Think Blue Bar-B-Que.

As for Tommy’s place, the Chicken Parmesan sandwich wins my vote by a landslide, although the pizza isn’t bad either, nor are the meatballs in the pasta platter. That being said, there are so many menu items at each plaza eatery that I still have quite a few to sample, so my personal favorites could very well change.

Longtime Dodgers Director of Publicity Steve Brener favors the Right Field Plaza over the Left, but only slightly.

“I’m a Lasorda fan,” said Brener. “Great pasta, great meatballs and the pizza is really good, and so is the Italian sausage.”

Any you know which one Tommy Lasorda prefers.

“I would never ever in my life put my name on something that wasn’t properly done,” said the extremely popular Hall of Fame manager. “If you don’t like these [meatballs] you don’t like Christmas or Easter.”

Lasorda’s endorsement of his namesake Trattoria isn’t just hype either. He is frequently spotted out there before home games enjoying a great meal and talking with fans – Dodger fans, that is.

I encourage every fan visiting Dodger Stadium to check out both Field Level plazas for a great meal or beverage – and don’t forget the soft serve ice cream (served in a souvenir Dodgers mini helmet) for dessert!

(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

 

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