Sal’s Café and Coal-Fired Pizza takes over vacant Groveland Plaza restaurant space in Somers Point; the results are super.
One of the most significant differences between today’s Atlantic City region and its precursors is our ongoing, rapid diversification of ethnic cultures.
Nowhere is that more notable than in the restaurant and food industries, where waves of Latinos, Asians and eastern Europeans have become among the leading players.
Should you doubt my words, just try finding an eatery without a Mexican cook or a server from Bulgaria or Romania locally.
Sal’s Café, located in Fitzpatrick’s Jewish Deli’s former space on New Road in Groveland Plaza in Somers Point, presents the dining public with yet another new set of immigrants fervently pursuing their own personal vision of the American Dream; the Pira family, from Kosovo, Albania.
To fully understand their journey, a bit of history is helpful.
Strategically situated just above Albania proper — north of Greece and 100 miles from Italy’s boot heel — the Kosovo region has been a hotbed of religious and sectarian unrest for more than 500 years.
Uncle and nephew Sal and Blair Pira fled Kosovo amid a spate of violence that occurred near the end of the last century.
This was to be the final battleground of a notoriously brutal Yugoslavian civil war, pitting Eastern Orthodox Serbs against the largely Muslim populations in nearby Bosnia and Croatia.
With family already established here in southern New Jersey, Sal gained employment in restaurants immediately.
Finding kitchen work to be his life’s calling, he purchased Margate’s well-established Pierre’s Pizza eight years ago.
A year devoted to recovery — both economic and from 2012’s Superstorm Sandy — saw a remarkable number of commendable new food businesses locally.
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.