Crowd the plate

Executive chef Billy Deaver puts the finishing touches on the Smores Smasher dessert at Aces Ballpark.

Executive chef Billy Deaver puts the finishing touches on the Smores Smasher dessert at Aces Ballpark.

Photo by AMY BECK

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“Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack” may be the lyrics to the old song about food at the ball game, but in the 21st century, it’s pretzel bites, Caprese burgers and Wild Horse Ale beer-braised cheddar brats. Executive Chef Billy Deaver wants eating at Aces Ballpark to be a grand slam every time you’re at his plate.

Deaver has his degree in Culinary Arts from Horry Georgetown Technical College in South Carolina. His 18-year history in the kitchen includes an impressive resume. He opened a resort restaurant for golfer Greg Norman. Then he was on his way to work at the Ritz-Carlton on Maui when 9/11 happened. It detoured him to North Star at Lake Tahoe for a couple of years. Marriott hired him in San Diego; opportunity moved him over to the Hilton chain until the Levy Restaurant Group offered him a top spot. Then, came jobs in Palm Springs, Park City, Utah, and now, Aces Ballpark. Levy is the contractor for the food services at the park. He runs all the food on the main concourse and also Buggy’s at the skybox level along the third base line.

Food prices at the park range from $4.75 to $29. A great assortment of domestic, premium, and microbrews are priced at $6.25 to $9.59. My first time up, I choose the Wild Horse Ale-braised Cheddar Bratwurst with jalapeño-apple slaw and horseradish mustard ($10). This one was out of the park. A perfect casing holds in the brat’s natural juices. It’s from the Sausage Factory in Carson City. Deaver said he uses as much local product as possible. The bratwurst is pork and beef braised with the brew from Great Basin Brewing Co.—a new, local vender this year—infused with natural California cheddar, has just the right amount of garlic and pepper, and was developed by the Tonino family exclusively for the Aces. The savory, hearty, juicy flavor—even a little tart with a bite of horseradish and jalapeño—was a walk-off home run in my mouth … eat your heart out, Nathan’s.

My second trip to the plate was for a grilled-cheese Smasher ($7.50). It’s a panini-type sandwich with provolone, good, sharp cheddar, tomatoes and homemade pesto without pine nuts on thick bread grilled to a golden brown. It’s simple, but the two cheeses and pesto gave it a rich flavor, very satisfying and ample for a manwich. While I was waiting on deck for my next at-fork, I decided to hydrate with an Epic IPA from Mammoth Brewery, first times at the ball park ($7.25). Not too hoppy for an IPA and a darker color because they double roast the hops, letting the malt bring a little more to the flavor.

For my clean-up spot, I went to the plate for a Smores Smasher ($7.50). a Belgian waffle broken in half, and now comes the triple play: Spread with Nutello, melted marshmallow, sprinkle crushed graham crackers. Decadent, sweet, a hint of hazelnut, coco, and the flavor carried this smack so far, it almost hit the pop-up baseball in right field that sings “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch.

And you can be sure that evening an Alka-Seltzer was in my box score. So now when you experience America’s favorite pastime, you can elevate it to dining, not just munching. And by the way, for you ole timers, peanuts and Cracker Jack are still available.