Cold March winds were blowing off the Atlantic Ocean during a recent visit to Atlantic City. It was low-season and the crowds were minimal, at best. But the heat was on when it came to food. Though many restaurants are closed for the season and others having met the COVID-19 ax, here are some places that will take your tastebuds on a culinary adventure along the boardwalk and beyond.
Cafe 2825, 2825 Atlantic Ave.
When you Google” best Italian restaurants in Atlantic City,” Cafe 2825 pops to the forefront. Not only is it considered the best in the city, it’s also been voted the best in New Jersey. And when you go on the web site and see the food is cooked by “a guy named Joe,” it’s just a little to hard to resist securing a reservation here. The place is small, so reservations may be hard to come by during the height of tourist season, but during the off-season, it’s doable. That’s how popular this place is for tourists, but it’s also a favorite of the local community.
Mozzarella is made tableside. And there’s a story behind that — a challenge, of sorts, says owner Joe Lautato. A dinner guest said he couldn’t be making the mozzarella in-house. So to prove that it was made from scratch, including the cheese curds used to make mozzarella, Joe brought the entire cheesemaking assembly into the dining room and made it in front of everyone there, then proceeded to serve it to every table. The tradition continues to this day and is one of the most-popular appetizers prepared tableside and molded into large disks of mozzarella drizzled with aged balsamic and garnished with fresh basil.
Everything at Cafe 2825 is made from scratch, including the pasta, rissoto, sauces. You name it. This dedication to quality and attention to every detail is what turns this from an ordinary dinner into an experience to savor.
Mozzarella is made tableside at Cafe 2825.
Seafood risotto comes as an entree or side dish chock-full of shrimp and crab in a perfectly seasoned, creamy risotto.
Fresh Alaskan haddock was the fish of the day for dinner.
When curds become cheese, mozzarella, made tableside, is molded, drizzled with aged balsamic and garnished with fresh basil. It’s one of the most-popular appetizers served at Cafe 2825. Enjoy it with tender sweet red peppers and thinly shaved prosciutto, if desired.
Hard Rock Cafe at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
After a brisk morning jog along the boardwalk, I popped into Hard Rock for breakfast. All of the casinos have restaurants open for breakfast, but my hunger hit as I passed by Hard Rock, so Hard Rock Cafe it was, and the West Coast Avocado Toast along with a spicy Bloody Mary seemed like the perfect way to start my day. The cafe serves eggs, pancakes, French toast, eggs Benedict and a host of other breakfast fixings, but the avocado toast, with two eggs any way you want them — in my case, sunny-side up — along with pico de gallo, was perfect.
Avocado toast with two eggs and a spicy Bloody Mary at Hard Rock.
Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill at Caesar’s Palace
For a true British pub experience, visit Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill at Caesar’s Palace. Ale-battered fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and Scotch eggs with lobster are just a few of the things you’ll find on the menu. But if you’ve ever been to Britain, you’ll know that split pea soup is a tradition. I’ve had split pea soup from the Appalachian Mountains to streetside cafes in Europe, but never have I had split pea soup as yummy as that I had at Ramsay’s pub. It had the perfect balance of seasonings and texture and was so creamy I was tempted to lick the bowl. But mama taught me better than that. The bar also sports more than 26 beers on tap and 22 bottled brews. Make reservations early. This is a very popular place.
Split Pea soup makes a meal at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub and Grill at Caesar’s Palace.