Robert Wiedmaier, Marc Forgione, Jose Garces and Alain Allegretti, Iron Chefs among them, prepare for their respective restaurants to open at Revel.
ATLANTIC CITY — To the casual observer, chef and restaurateur Robert Wiedmaier is simply opening a branch of his popular Mussel Bar in Bethesda, Md. next month when Revel debuts Atlantic City’s first new casino in nine years.
Close, but not entirely accurate. Think bigger, the chef says.
“The Mussel Bar [at Revel] is gonna be on steroids,” he tells Atlantic City Weekly. “It isn’t going to be like the one we have in [Bethesda]. It’s going to be a whole stimulation package when you go there.”
Wiedmaier, who owns four restaurants in and around Washington, D.C., is just one of an all-star team of chefs Revel has recruited to operate 14 food outlets in the $2.4 billion resort. He joined four of his culinary colleagues recently at a restaurant preview party presented by Revel in New York City.
The Mussel Bar at Revel will be the first dining room Wiedmaier’s opened outside his home base, and it will be like nothing he’s tackled in the past.
Entertainment will be a key ingredient in the restaurant, he explains, and the room will feature a live stage. Beer will also hold a place of honor in the Mussel Bar.
“We have a beer wall that’s going to house 200 Belgian beers,” he says. Not to worry, beer fans; American brands will also be offered.
Wiedmaier, 51, exudes a vibrant and animated personality when talking about his newest challenge. He admitts he was initially skeptical about opening an Atlantic City dining room when Revel’s restaurant recruiters approached him four years ago.
“I was like, ‘Atlantic City? I haven’t been there in years,’” he says. But then he visited the town and saw that things had changed since his last visit.
And when he saw the plans for Revel, described by CEO Kevin DeSanctis as a luxury cruise ship that never leaves the dock, he quickly booked passage.
Wiedmaier, whose father is from Belgium, describes his newest restaurant as a “Belgian roadhouse” where the food and entertainment — plus an open kitchen loaded with video cameras so guests can see chefs preparing their meals — combine to form a complete entertainment experience.
Although the menu offers nine different mussel dishes — the spicy Thai curry mussels are Wiedmaier’s favorite — the room will offer everything from roasted whole sea bass to oysters to prime rib and porterhouse steak.
Wiedmaier’s room won’t be the only place to grab a steak at Revel. Chef Marc Forgione, one of Revel’s two TV Food Network “Iron Chefs” (Philly-based Jose Garces is the other) will be opening American Cut, which he described as his spin on a “classic steakhouse.”
Just 33, Forgione has helped open many restaurants since launching his kitchen career, but this will be his first venture into the gaming world.
“I’ve never opened a restaurant inside of a casino or a resort that’s opening at the same time,” says Forgione, the 2010 winner of the Next Iron Chef reality series. “It’s insane. I can’t even wrap my head around it.”
Music will also be an important part of his dining room. The same DJ who programs the play lists for his New York City restaurant will create the soundtrack for his Revel dining room.
Since opening just over a year ago, Revel has certainly faced more than its fair share of hardship. One undeniable fact though, the shimmering building with the globe on top has brought a dazzling collection of gastronomic options to the area, including star chef concepts from the likes of Marc Forgione, Jose Garces, Luke Palladino, Alain Allegretti and Robert Wiedmaier.
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A plethora of women willing to take their shirts off was not what local artist Kevin McCarty was anticipating when he was approached to participate in an art show benefiting breast cancer.
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