North Dakota Date Night: Coteau des Prairie Lodge and The Lost Italian

The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie LodgeAfter the county fair and then a long weekend to western North Dakota with family and friends, Nathan and I probably should have stayed home Sunday night to catch up on work around our house and yard. We have a full schedule ahead of us this week. But it was 93 F outside.We were home from church. Our kids wanted to swim and our small town pool was open. Away, our younger two kids went with a babysitter while the older one was still away at a basketball tournament.

Forget the housework and yard work. The laundry will wait. It always does!

Nathan and I loaded up in the pick-up for a 134 mile one-way road trip to Coteau des Prairies Lodge for a date night. 

A date night 134 miles away? Yes when you live in the middle of the prairie, you will travel for all sorts of things, but especially when there are no snowdrifts stopping you from spending time with good friends, eating fine food, laughing until you cry and soaking in beautiful prairie farm fields. 

Hanging out with bison are a bonus on a date night too.
The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie Lodge The fine food was prepared by my friends Sarah and Tony Nasello and their son Giovanni. The Nasello’s own Sarello’s restaurant in Moorhead, Minnesota. They live in Fargo, North Dakota and I absolutely share their love and passion for North Dakota, the prairie and fine food. Plus together we talk agriculture and farmers and are working on a fun upcoming event. It’s secret. Shhh.The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie Lodge Gio has permission to marry either of our daughters. Isn’t he a handsome boy with a beautiful mama?

My lumberyard owning/ builder husband and I checked out the lodge. Coteau des Prairies can sleep 20-40 people, up to 60 with roll-aways. I imagine family reunions, business retreats and girls weekends here in my future. 

The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie Lodge The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie LodgeI have always wanted a log home since I was a little girl. If I never get one, at least I can road trip to this stunning lodge on the prairie now. I loved everything about it. 

And I loved everything about the food.

The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie LodgeFirst was the Antipasti: an assortment of Italian cured meats and cheeses.

The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie LodgeNext was Insalata Caprese: Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato Slices and Basil, drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

There was a wine pairing with each course that Tony gave an explanation with and shared his Italian and Silician roots and passion.

The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie LodgeTony sang, told stories with passion and even gave a cooking demonstration. 

And sometimes Gio was laughing at Tony. 

The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie Lodge Philip Breker shared about Coteau des Prairies Lodge a bit and their family story. I know of the Breker family through their extensive work in no-till farming. They are family farmers and leaders. Visiting their new venture of the lodge was encouraging for all young people (am I still young?) like me who want to see a next generation come back to rural areas. I suppose it is just as rewarding for an older generation to see. 

There is a revitalizing of rural happening and you can feel the excitement I think. I definitely heard and saw it in the Breker family.The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie Lodge Rural isn’t just label. It’s a livelihood and a way of life. A choice, I think. Driving across rural North Dakota to meet up with friends that share our common love of rural was worth the trip.The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie Lodge We laughed. And laughed. And laughed some more, all in between eating.The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie LodgeTony’s Gnocchi alla Puttanesca: Light pillows of homemade potato pasta tossed in a traditional Sicilian sauce of garlic, white wine, tomatoes, kalamata olives, anchovies and capers

After the Gnocchi, it was time for an “Intermesso” in our dining. An intermission. A pause.  We were served watermelon with balsamic vinegar to cleanse our palates. Delightful. 


We soaked in a North Dakota prairie sunset from the deck of the lodge.The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie Lodge My forever friend Karla, who I’ve known for nearly 20 years now, was chosen to be in a wine bottle opening contest. She had an old school cork screw and her competitor had a modern-day wine opener. I bet on Karla. She’s an engineer and smart. 

And did I mention she is strong?The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie Lodge The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie Lodge Karla won, even running to serve a glass of wine in her heels to win.

Our “Secondo Piatto” was Pollo Tricolore. This was the best chicken I have had tasted in my life. Karla agreed. My plate didn’t look like this for long because I ate it all gone. My mama taught me to clean off my plate and I did!

The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie LodgeScaloppine of Chicken breaded and stuffed with Roasted Red Peppers, Fontina Cheese and Basil Pesto

Even those words and photo don’t do the chicken any justice. My favorite. 

Italy on the Prairie with The Lost Italian was the perfect rural date night. Fabulous location. Fine food.
The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie Lodge It had a sweet ending.

The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie LodgeGrand Marnier Zabaglione with Fresh Berries: A light, frothy custard infused with Grand Marnier liqueur, served over a variety of fresh berries

Tony gave us a cooking demonstration to make this dessert and I am definitely whipping it up for a summer treat soon.

The sweetest treat was four hours with friends over a long, fine Italian dinner in a perfect prairie location. It allowed for conversation and laughs, for time together we rarely carve out for ourselves.

The Pinke Post_Coteau des Prairie LodgeDriving home, I asked Nathan if there was anything he would change about the date night. He said, “That we didn’t stay overnight!” Indeed, Coteau des Prairies Lodge isn’t a place you just want to make a short visit too. It’s a place to linger. Next time? We are staying longer!

 What’s a fun place you have visited this summer? (I’m always up for a road trip!)


  1. Olivia Stenvold says

    Thank you so much for all your kind words about your mini vacation. I am so proud of where I grew up and being able to share it with others is amazing. My family has always been very passionate about agriculture and educating people on conservation practices. The lodge has allowed us many oppurtunities to help nonfarm families understand why we do things on our farm that have been so negatively portrayed by the media. Producing safe nutritious food is the number one priority for most farmers. Second most is supporting their families financially (which is not always easy)all while passing on the knowedge to future generations.

    Thank you for all the work you do to give agriculture the spot light it deserves. I hope you get a chance to bring your family to the lodge for an over night stay.

    Olivia Stenvold
    CDP Lodge Manager


  1. […] Thanks to Chef Tony Nasello, ‘The Lost Italian’, guests at Coteau des Prairies Lodge were almost literally transported to another place – Italy, that is – Italy on the Prairie! Sunday night was not your average evening out for dinner. Take it from Katie Pinke, a North Dakota blogger who was there to enjoy a one-of-a-kind date night! […]

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