Scrumptious grub awaits food fans in the coming weeks and months in the Atlantic City region.
There is no more telling indicator of spring’s arrival hereabouts than the opening of new businesses, especially in food service sectors. In spite of a still-moribund economy, the Atlantic City region continues to percolate with activity.
Here are a few of the 2010 season’s most hotly anticipated arrivals.
Chido Burrito, Northfield: Located on Tilton Road at the site long occupied by Stewart’s Root Beer, Chido Burrito is the first independent venture owned and operated by local developer Terence Gallagher, along with partner Steve Marchel. Formerly manager at Margate’s Sailfish Café, Gallagher has added jazzy, colorful, surf-oriented decor throughout in addition to completely remodeling both the dining area and kitchen. Many recipes arrive with big-league pedigrees, having been formulated by chefs at Margate fave Steve and Cookie’s. Brisket and pork shoulder, standard-bearers for the emergent “low and slow” cooking movement, will be prepared in-house daily. Chido opened earlier this week.
Redding’s Southern Cuisine: Atlantic City: A terribly ambitious new enterprise in one of Atlantic City’s neediest sections, this marks the local debut of nationally-known Chef Carl S. Redding. The former Marine, employed for nearly a decade by the Reverend Al Sharpton, previously ran restaurants in Harlem, midtown Manhattan and Connecticut’s Foxwoods casino. Redding’s list of former customers and associates reads like a Who’s Who of modern American clout: Oprah Winfrey, Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush and the late Michael Jackson, all prominently pictured on his Web site. (www.reddingsrestaurant.com.) Among an extensive list of awards, Redding was selected by the New York Daily News as “The #1 Person to Watch in the New Millenium” in 2000 at the age of only 36.
His luscious-sounding menu crosses multiple genres, from traditional soul food to unique items like the decadent delight fried chicken and waffles. Serving as general manager will be veteran nightclub and restaurant entrepreneur Ralph Fiocchi, scion of a well-connected Vineland-area farm family. Expect Redding’s to open by Mother’s Day at 1545 Pacific Ave. Expect to see lines, long lines, waiting to get in and grub.
Kelsey & Kim’s Southern Café, Atlantic City: Spotting a trend here? Thank us. We asked for more BBQ in our ‘Wish List’ column of early January, and apparently someone was listening. K&K’s will replace longtime Inlet eatery Corbin’s in a corner spot on the farthest northeastern edges of Absecon Island. Look for them to open by early April at Melrose and New Hampshire avenues.
The owners already successfully manage a well-regarded restaurant in Pleasantville (52 North Main St.) Loyal fans rave about southern staples like pulled pork, fried chicken, mac and cheese, and greens. We’ve been negligent in not sampling their wares and plan to remedy that quickly. Like the man says: It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.
Kitaro, Ventnor: Named for a Grammy award-winning Japanese musician/composer, this planned Asian/French fusion restaurant is set to open at the spot that previously housed The Nostalgia Room (5214 Atlantic Ave.). Good news — they’ve completely gutted the tired-looking interiors. A small sushi station has been created, along with other design elements — like a faux bamboo room divider — reflecting their new theme and menu.
A Pan-Asian motif is reinforced by Kitaro’s two key staffers. General Manager Ta Tuan, a Vietnamese native, tells us that the chef will be an experienced Japanese culinarian from Manhattan named Sochi. They expect to begin operating mid-April.
R.I. Café, Ocean City: The nebulous name doesn’t tell the story; this is one of the best new Chinese — or Asian, for that matter — restaurants to open locally in the last two decades. New owners have transformed the former home of Island Shore II (ironically, the original still exists offshore, in Marmora) and offer a menu that leans heavily on exotic, spicier cuisine.
On a recent visit (14th Street between Asbury and Central avenues), we sampled a dozen scintillating Szechwan wontons. The delicate, gently folded pastries were filled with a soft meat and veggie mix and coated by a piquant, Thai-style peanut sauce.
Luke Palladino, Northfield: Perhaps the most intriguing of this season’s stories-to-still-be-told is that of the Borgata’s former wunderkind chef (Specchio, Ombra, Risi Bisi). According to signage onsite, Palladino plans to open soon in a tiny facility near the intersection of Route 9 and Tilton Road, which was formerly called Kenny’s Kitchen. Very little additional information was available as of press time, but watch this column for an update soon.
A post-Sandy update on the culinary scene in the South Jersey region, including new restaurant openings in the area.
Star chef Luke Palladino recently opened his third Atlantic City eatery, Luke’s Kitchen & Marketplace at Revel.
Kelsey and Kim’s will expand to include a third location at the corner of Kentucky and Pacific avenues called A.C.’s Southern Touch.
These aren’t just the standard seasonal open-now-and-close after Labor Day types, either. The vast majority of these eateries will be serious, year-round operators.
When we last encountered Luke James Palladino, just after Labor Day in 2010, the dynamic chef seemed firmly ensconced in the cozy confines of his charming Northfield bistro near the intersection of Tilton Road and Route 9.
With speculative financing still strictly subsistence level, there just aren’t many new businesses brazen enough to open. With one notable exception: LoBianco New American Cuisine in Margate.
Plus new DrewToonz cartoon, Sean Rowe and his Anti- label debut 'Magic,' and jazz series to debut at Redding's restaurant in Atlantic City in February.
Situated midblock on Atlantic Avenue in Ventnor, the restaurant previously existed as The Nostalgia Room. Present ownership did away with all remnants of what had become a tired, ’80s décor. Instead, a fresh, minimalist Asian motif prevails, nicely communicating and reinforcing the dramatic change in cuisine that has also taken place.
We are, without the slightest hint of hyperbole, like nowhere else in the country. Maybe the world. New Jersey is known as the Garden State with good reason and this is the epicenter of that garden.
The southern New Jersey shore continues to be one of the most dynamic, relevant restaurant regions in the nation.
The Atlantic City region deserves succulent goose, tart cloud or lingonberries and smoked trout.
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Congrats to the McCauley Clan
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Taste of Revel Revisited
Jose Garces Truckin’ at Revel
Tropicana Seafood Week Coming Soon