We’ve missed a lot of things since the pandemic strolled into our lives. But perhaps most of all, we’ve missed the certainty and predictability of the things we had come to expect each year. Case in point – Atlantic City Restaurant Week. This culinary adventure has become a staple of early March for many of us in the Atlantic City area and was one of the first signs of life after the long, cold winter.
But this past March, Restaurant Week was nowhere to be found. With restaurants still under a variety of restrictions and most of the population unvaccinated, it just wasn’t feasible. And for the first time in many years, we were certain that for 2021, Atlantic City would be without it entirely.
But I am happy to report that I was wrong. What I expected to be an outright cancellation was merely a postponement. Atlantic City Restaurant Week has been moved — for this year only — to the fall. And that means from Sunday, Oct. 3, to Friday, Oct. 8 (no Saturday this year), exquisite three-course meals can be had at some of the city’s best restaurants at the incredible prices of $15.21 for lunch and $35.21 for dinner (tax and gratuity not included), with nearly 60 restaurants participating.
“The decision to move our annual Atlantic City Restaurant Week promotion to the fall of 2021 was made during the event planning process late last year, as restaurants were still under COVID restrictions and not at full capacity at the time,” says CRDA Acting Director of Communications and Marketing Karen Martin. “We anticipate that presenting the event Oct. 3 through 8 will give restaurants and their customers the best possible experience.”
The experience is sure to be great, but reservations will fill up fast, so you should definitely make yours before they do.
And, in case you need a bit of assistance in deciding where to go, here are five picks from your friendly friends from The Fat Boy Munch Club. Enjoy!
Back Bay Ale HouseThe outdoor area with its waterfront views and laid-back Key West vibe makes Back Bay Ale House a great option for a daytime meal, and since they are offering the lunch option for Restaurant Week, they were my first pick.
Their cream of crab soup is the stuff of legend, making my app choice an easy one. It’s packed with fresh lump crab meat and sweet cream and makes for a perfect start to any meal. For my main course I’m going with the ribeye steak sandwich, which I have enjoyed many times before. It features an 8-ounce chargrilled ribeye steak with cheese, but the real key to this sandwich is the garlic bread it’s served on, which adds a whole other dimension of flavor. More places should serve sandwiches on garlic bread frankly.
As for dessert, they are keeping their cards close to their chest on this one, making it a “chef’s choice.” So I’ll get what I’m given apparently.
Call 609-449-0006 or go to BackBayAleHouse.com.
Chelsea Five Gastropub at Tropicana Atlantic CityOne of the true hidden gems of the Atlantic City dining scene, Chelsea Five Gastropub at Tropicana Atlantic City’s Chelsea Tower offers breathtaking views via its floor-to-ceiling windows that look out directly over the Atlantic Ocean. They also offer some of the best dishes in town.
For my app, I’m starting things off easy with a traditional Caesar salad, complete with romaine lettuce, garlic croutons and parmesan. The star of the show is the entrée, and though many of the choices sound incredible – particularly the filet mignon sliders – I’d be a fool to pick anything but the buttermilk fried chicken – an exquisite version of this Southern favorite, this one is honey-glazed, dredged in spices and served with a side of their incredible jalapeno corn bread. It’s fabulous.
My dessert plans are steering me toward the Meyer lemon cheesecake, as I’m a big fan of cheesecake, in general, and the Meyer lemon seems like it would balance the richness of the cheese nicely. Call 609-340-4090 or go to Tropicana.net.
Vic & Anthony’s at Golden Nugget Atlantic CityOne of my favorite steakhouses in Atlantic City, Vic & Anthony’s at Golden Nugget Atlantic City is both elegant and modern, and it consistently puts out some of the greatest steaks in town.
I’m planning to start things off with the lobster bisque, a creamy and indulgent soup packed with lobster and finished off with a bit of sherry. The entrée selection here is a fairly obvious choice as Vic & Anthony’s is one of the only steakhouses participating in Restaurant Week that actually offers a steak as one of the options for dinner. So yeah, I’m going with the petite filet mignon – cooked medium rare, as always — which comes served with a side of Yukon gold mashed potatoes.
Dessert will be an easy choice as well as I am slightly obsessed with bread pudding, and they are offering a croissant version that’s going to be a must-try for me. Call 609-441-2000 or go to VicAndAnthonys.com.
Water Dog Atlantic City at Bally’s Atlantic CityWater Dog has a hell of a menu for Restaurant Week, but the truth is they could fill it with nothing but Ritz crackers and tap water and I would still come here for dinner as long as they kept the lobster roll on there. Easily one of the best — if not THE best sandwich — in all of South Jersey, this crustacean-based sub features a torpedo-shaped brioche bun with an entire lobster’s worth of meat, coated with clarified butter and topped with chopped scallions and a side of tarragon aioli. It’s amazing.
As for the app and dessert? I’m going with the ahi tuna taco to start things off and the carrot cake – loaded with delicious cream cheese icing – to wrap things up. Call 609-246-7993 or go to BallysAC.com.
Mexico A simple and understated restaurant, Mexico has managed to stay consistent and delicious for decades. They are offering lunch for Restaurant Week, so this was a no brainer for me. For my first course, the mini quesadillas are my pick as it’s hard to resist their combo of melted cheese and chicken with onions and peppers all wrapped in a miniature flour tortilla.
My go-to choice of entrée anytime I visit Mexico is their chimichangas, and they just so happen to be offered on the Restaurant Week menu, so that’s where I’m headed. If you haven’t had them before, they really are an outstanding and worthy pick. Essentially a pair of deep-fried burritos, these come stuffed with chicken sautéed in a pepper and onion sauce and loaded with melted cheese and sides of rice and refried beans.
The deep-fried ice cream would be tempting if I hadn’t just loaded up on deep-fried items for both app and entrée, so my pick here is the flan with its delicious combo of vanilla and caramel custard.
Call 609-344-0366 or go to MexicoRestauarantAndBar.com.
American Bar &
Hotel Casino & SpaMy favorite restaurant hasn’t missed a beat since Wolfgang Puck is no longer involved, and that’s because Executive Chef Aram Mardigian continues the farm-to-table style and commitment to the freshest ingredients made in house.
Mardigian’s fall menu is on full display here, and it’s a real gem. For an appetizer, I would check out the autumn pumpkin soup with marshmallow cream, but you can also opt for a baby gem salad with local apples, candied walnuts, pomegranate seeds and blue cheese; or grilled spicy Texas Hill country sausage with potato salad and pickled peppers.
The entrées present even tougher choices. But I am a sucker for meatloaf, and my money is on the fact that Mardigian could make a mean one, especially since his version is grilled and barbecued with mashed potatoes and grilled onion marmalade. Other choices are seared sea scallops with Oregon truffle butter and potato chips; and house-made rigatoni Amatriciana.
And the in-house bakery will definitely make the extra calories worth it with Pina Colada cake, or my pick: red velvet cake with Bananas Foster ice cream.
Call 609-317-1000 or go to TheBorgata.com
Capriccio at Resorts Casino HotelThere are a lot of Italian joints available for Restaurant Week, and my pick inside a casino is the most classic of the bunch: Capriccio. The romantic, gorgeous, period restaurant with a view is not only a stunning blast to the past, but its food is as good as any Italian restaurant in South Jersey.
Their kitchen is really offering a lot of choices with some high-end ingredients for your $35.21.
The risotto with salted cod, herb pesto and roasted squash is tough to pass up, but I just love a good soup in the fall, and Capriccio’s butternut squash soup features butter-poached lobster and vanilla cream. You can also choose chopped greens with poached organic egg, stewed tomatoes, caramelized chickpeas, crispy polenta and Italian dressing.
I absolutely adore Capiccio’s short rib ravioli with a proseccor beurre blanc and port wine reduction, so that’s my dinner choice. But I could easily be persuaded into the roasted chicken Francaise or the branzino with spinach gnochetti, Swiss chard and wild mushrooms.
And you can leave the chocolate mousse cake and seasonal gelati and take the cannoli.
Call 609-340-6300 or go to ResortsAC.com.
Guy Fieri’s Chophouse at Bally’s Atlantic CityThe most underrated restaurant in Atlantic City won’t be the best-kept secret for long now that it has owners that really appreciate it, so head out there for Restaurant Week to see what the buzz is all about.
One of my favorite dishes on the planet – Fieri’s spicy crunch tuna sushi roll with sriracha, sweet soy and cucumber – is a great way to start, but you also have two other great choices: roasted portobello mushroom cream soup with smoked pork crostini and truffle; or a California Caesar with hearts of Romaine, avocado mousse and amazing stuffed croutons that are made in house.
One of the best-sounding dishes on any RW menu is the stuffed chicken breast with Andouille sausage cornbread stuffing and garlic green beans, and the other two entrée choices ain’t too shabby: a 10-ounce, slow-roasted, English cut, boneless prime rib with natural jus and creamy horseradish; and Cajun wood-grilled salmon with crispy potato wedges and roasted garlic butter.
End on a great note with my favorite Nutter Butter cheesecake or triple chocolate fudge cake.
Call 609-340-2350 or go to BallysAC.com.
Valentina’s Trattoria ItalianaLike I said, there are a lot of Italian options, so my pick for the best Italian joint outside of the casino, it’s Valentina’s.
Their appetizers are relatively light and healthy including Caesar salad that is lightly grilled with homemade croutons; Carpaccio di Barbabietola with roasted red beets, baby spinach, roasted walnuts and feta; or the grilled eggplant with baby arugula, burrata and EVOO.
Pasta is the name of the game here, including the imported Trofie with red pepper pesto, sausage and a touch of cream; tagliatelle Bolognese featuring Valentina’s light meat sauce; sauteed chicken breast with mixed wild mushrooms, white wine, garlic and EVOO; beef braciola with pine nuts, raisins, parsley, potato gnocchi and tomato sauce; and a gorgeous Mediterranean sea bass filet baked in parchment with cherry tomatoes, thyme and EVOO.
Even the desserts are unique, including yogurt and Nutella cake, or Cucina Rustica’s famous vanilla bean bread pudding.
Valentina’s is located at 200 Tilton Road, Northfield. Call 609-380-2466, or go to ValentinasNJ.com.
PJ Buckets SeafoodOne of the newbies this year for RW, PJ Buckets Seafood is offering both lunch and dinner, and with seafood prices the way they are right now, RW is a deal at PJ Buckets in a big way.
For lunch or dinner, diners get a choice of soup, Cajun crawdad app, mussels sampler, half-dozen steamers, or fried clam strips.
For dinner, there’s lobster mac and cheese, Cajun crawdad mac and cheese or shrimp mac and cheese; a Crawdad Tail Roll; or 1-pound shrimp boil; or lobster tail or Crawdad/scallops or shrimp skewer.
Dinner choices include at least five styles of boils with crawfish, shrimp, snow crab or blue claw crab, Andouille sausage, corn, potato, onion and cornbread or A.C. roll.
And finish off with “Salty Sunshine” or a fresh-baked cookie.
PJ Buckets is located at 115 N. Dorset Ave., Ventnor. Call 609-246-6700 or go to PJBuckets.com.