Feeling hungry? Then you are in luck. Our region — Atlantic City and the whole of southern New Jersey — presents a plethora of dining possibilities.
Although that fact is a relatively new phenomenon, it has a solid foundation derived from the area’s topography, history and population.
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.
Whether it’s peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, peaches, apples, pears, plums, straw, black or blueberries, romaine, red and green leaf lettuces, arugula, dandelion, figs or potatoes of any variety, southern New Jersey’s bounty is rich in depth and quality.
Those unique natural attributes form one-third of an equation which has fostered a dynamic restaurant environment locally.
The second element, infrastructure and investment, might appear less obvious.
So, wrap your minds around the fact that 10 or so years ago, none of the following even existed: Buddakan. The Continental. Chelsea Prime. Teplitzky’s. Carmine’s. Cuba Libre. The Melting Pot. Il Mulino. McCormick & Schmick’s. Mia. Old Homestead, Morton’s, The Palm and Ruth’s Chris steak houses.
Ditto for Phillips Seafood, Red Square, Souzai, Wolfgang Puck’s American Grill, Fin. Fornelletto, Izakaya, Patsy’s, The Trinity, SeaBlue (pictured at left) and Simon Prime.
Throw in Gertrude’s, Manna, Sofia, Dune, Tomatoe’s (at least in their current locale/incarnation) Johnny’s, Domenico’s, Sage and Luke Palladino — outside of the resort town proper — too.
All within only a few miles of Absecon Island.
Get the picture?
We think you’d be hard pressed to find a market, which has seen a more dynamic, exponential amount of growth in such a short time frame.
The third portion of this holy triumvirate of food is ethnic diversity and change.
Southern New Jersey continues to serve as a microcosm of the American immigrant experience. Beginning with Dutch and English settlers in the 1600 and 1700s, continuing through waves of Germans, Scots, Irish, Jews and Italians, we’ve always been an initial portal for those seeking a better life in America.
Our new Millennium variant, however, is a composite of former Soviet block residents — free to travel after decades of Communist rule — Latinos, Indians, Pakistanis, Thais, Vietnamese and Western Africans.
These peoples have brought with them their own ancient culinary skill sets of technique, tradition, ingredient, culture and wisdom.
A quick glance through the pages of this publication will reveal a bit about the globetrotting array of specialized ethnic restaurants near Atlantic City.
If in search of vindaloo, India’s fiery, fearsome answer to fra diavalo, you won’t have to look very hard. The same goes for mole, Mexico’s spicy/herbal/chocolate/cinnamon masterpiece, that country’s most cherished contribution to the gastronomic world. Hearty steaming bowls of pho — a rice noodle-based blend considered to be Vietnam’s national soup — are just as easy to locate.
What this writer finds most striking about our local restaurant scene is the unabated emergence of small, “mom and pop” eateries. Even in such a harsh economy, these continue to sprout up with surprising regularity. Especially true in the fastest-growing segment of our population, Latino, these are like pretty little flowers, reaching eagerly towards the sun from between cracks in the pavement.
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.
As the final remaining, original restaurant property at the Borgata, Old Homestead Steak House maintains a special status among peers.
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.
hese days, the big news here is their Sunday Supper. An homage to the family meals enjoyed by most Italian-Americans for decades, Il Mulino’s concept is “to resurrect the tradition, and ensure a style of dining that encompasses an appeal of nostalgia sure to bring you back to your roots.”
The next two Girls parties are scheduled for Thursday, April 21, and Thursday, May 19, and include four courses, raffle prizes and live music for $32, and specially priced martinis and wine selections.
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.
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