When you think of Guy Fieri, you might not think gourmet cuisine or his restaurants being one of the best experiences in any city.
Truthfully, it probably shouldn’t. While Fieri’s dozens and dozens of restaurants throughout the United States certainly live up to their “Flavortown” status, they are generally casual or quick-serve eateries catering to the masses.
Guy Fieri’s Chophouse inside Bally’s Atlantic City has defied those expectations since opening nearly seven years ago. The only Chophouse in the country, the Bally’s location – now under new ownership and out from under the Caesars Entertainment umbrella – is not only one of the most underrated restaurants in Atlantic City, but it is one of the best.
Throw out any preconceived notions you may have about what a Guy Fieri restaurant may be. Guy Fieri’s Chophouse, thanks to the love and passion of Executive Chef Giancarlo Generosi and Director of Food and Beverage Jerry Beaver and their team including new Chophouse Executive Chef Edwin Neris is churning out food of the highest quality. Sure, Fieri’s flair for going over the top is still present with flavors but in a more subtle dining experience than you might expect.
“I think so many people think of Guy as the Triple D guy with great burgers and wings, but we go far above that,” Generosi says. “We want to accommodate everyone so that’s it’s approachable but yet the quality is unbelievable. Yes, you can come in and get a great steak, but you can also get sushi or a burger at the same place. I think the problem is that people don’t really know what to expect.”
First off, the Chophouse is beautiful. With a large, square bar as its centerpiece featuring tons of craft beer surrounding a slew of flat-screen TVs, the Chophouse is separated into multiple dining rooms, including one overlooking the ocean and boardwalk. With plush furniture, black leather booths and open kitchens – one right at the front of the restaurant features a chef making sushi – the Chophouse stands out for its casual elegance, perfectly matching the food.
Steakhouse with a twist
Think of Guy Fieri’s Chophouse as a steakhouse with a twist. Sure, you will find great Certified Angus steaks cooked over a wood-fired grill with cherry, oak and hickory sourced from a local woodsman.
There’s the 8-ounce, wood-grilled filet mignon ($48) with brown butter and crispy onion; a 14-ounce New York strip ($49) with five-peppercorn sauce and grilled red onion; and a Sonoma dry-rubbed, 22-ounce porterhouse ($59) with confit garlic butter.
But you will also find their popular sashimi tuna tacos ($16.50) with yellowfin tuna, seaweed salad, mango, jicama, chilies, wasabi crema and sweet soy in wonton shells, or how about Fieri’s signature lollipop buffalo wings ($14) with his signature hot sauce and “blue-sabi” dip – a fine mix of blue cheese with wasabi.
It’s those latter dishes that make Guy Fieri’s Chophouse a fun adventure, a diversion from the sometimes stuffy, predictable steakhouses you often find in a casino.
Starters worth the trip alone
Seafood plays a huge role at the Chophouse as it should since it’s not only a steakhouse, but a steakhouse at the shore. The Baja shrimp ($14) definitely raise the bar when it comes to the popular appetizer featuring crispy shrimp in a chili aioili with avocado and cilantro; the Jersey Shore stuffed clams ($15) boast applewood-smoked bacon, peppers, onions, provolone cheese and garlic butter and are about as good as a version of clams casino you will ever taste; a raw bar offers everything from local clams ($1.50) to East and West Coast oysters ($3.50) to jumbo shrimp ($5) and split king crab legs ($25 for a quarter pound); and you can even choose from two sushi rolls, including the lobster loaded California roll ($17.50) with fresh jumbo crab, avocado, cucumber, wasabi lobster knuckle salad, tobika and tempura crunch; and the Rodeo Shrimp Dragon Roll ($16) with crispy shrimp tempura, crab salad, spicy tuna, avocado and garlic mayo.
Other starters worth checking out include the potbelly sliders ($13) with 48-hour, slow-cooked Heritage pork belly, orange-chipotle glaze, baby arugula, pickled cucumbers and donkey sauce; crab-stuffed mushrooms ($14) with lump crab, spinach, crispy potatoes and Havarti cream.
The main event
Guy Fieri’s Chophouse is more than just steaks. Blackened Scottish salmon ($35) comes bathed in a roasted garlic butter with fingerling potatoes; the Cajun chicken alfredo ($26) is one of the best alfredo dishes in the city with blackened chicken, parmesan and white wine alfredo sauce and sundried tomatoes with fettuccine; pan-seared Diver scallops ($35) are tossed in an orzo pasta with sage, Andouille sausage and roasted butternut squash for the most inspired scallops dish we have seen in a long time; and for the simpler but rich palate, the wood-grilled cold water lobster tail ($59) with sauteed spinach is the way to go.
Even the sides are amazing, especially the Mac Daddy Bacon Mac ’Cheese ($11) and the Yukon Gold “Butter Bomb” mashed potatoes served inside a baked potato for $10.
Generosi admits he was a little reluctant to let the Chophouse go to Neris when he was promoted to Executive Chef of the whole casino, but he is still keeping a close eye on everything.
“Make no doubt about it, the Chophouse is still my baby,” says Generosi, who ran the restaurant since its inception. “But I have a lot of faith in our new chef. The team in there does a great job. You have to stay consistent. Anyone can come up with a great menu with beautiful ingredients, but if you don’t have a team keeping it consistent, none of it matters. Guests don’t care who is cooking, they expect a Guy Fieri experience every time, no matter who is in the kitchen, so you have to deliver every time.”
Beaver adds: “Edwin and his team are doing a hell of a job up there. And Giancarlo is right. When you read the reviews, they write them like Guy is in the kitchen. ‘Guy knocked it out of the park.’ Or ‘Guy nailed it tonight.’ So you have to make Guy proud with every meal.”
Guy’s future at Bally’s
In addition to Fieri’s Chophouse, Bally’s will soon open a new Italian concept – Jerry Longo’s Meatballs & Martinis – and Ventnor’s Water Dog Smoke House will open its second location this summer.
Guests of all three places will be able to sit at the new 100-person-plus seating area Beaver invented in the Atrium outside of the restaurants surrounding the Baby Grand Piano.
“We started that because we needed seating with reduced capacity because of COVID,” Beaver says. “We have a piano player there every Friday and Saturday night, and it has really grown in popularity to the point that people request to be seated out there.”
So what will happen now that Guy Fieri’s Chophouse has new ownership at Bally’s?
“We are here to stay,” Beaver says. “They love the concept and the experience. (Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer) Phil Juliano said it best when he described it. He said the place really has something for everyone. He said you can get a burger while your wife gets the surf and turf and everything in between. I think that’s our biggest strength.”
Guy Fieri’s Presence
Speaking of Fieri, the famous chef is contracted to come to Bally’s twice a year, and Fieri and his team approve changes to the menu and watch closely from afar.
“Early on, they were very involved,” Generosi says. “But now that they know us and trust us, they aren’t as heavily involved. We come up with ideas, do tastings, send them everything and they approve or tell me to change things. Sometimes — pre-pandemic — they come in and work with us and approve everything.”
Beaver says a Fieri visit is something to behold.
“It’s like Elvis is in the building,” he says. “One time, they chased him from the restaurant into the kitchen and he had to leave down a service elevator. One thing I can say is he is always great with the staff. He goes out of his way to let them know how much he appreciates their hard work.”
Guy’s favorite server
If you are lucky on your next visit to Guy Fieri’s Chophouse, you will be served by Fieri’s favorite server Blaze, aka John House.
On one of Fieri’s first visits, Blaze waited on Fieri in his trademark style of imitating Fieri and using Fieri’s trademark lingo, welcoming them to Flavortown.
“I was standing within earshot of him and Guy says, ‘WTF was that?’ And Blaze turned white because he didn’t know if that was a good reaction or a bad reaction. And Blaze said, ‘You know, I am just trying to capture your persona and bring a piece of you to the restaurant.’ And Fieri said, ‘You gotta do that for me again!’ And he made him re-do the whole thing because he said it was the ‘best spiel I ever heard.’”
After that, Blaze was hired by Fieri to go to openings of his other restaurants to train staff and hopefully create new Blazes along the way.
By the way, all of the servers and chefs have fun names that are easy to remember, including Yoda, Mario, Luigi, Skywalker and Cleopatra, to name a few.
Make sure you ask your server for the “Secret Menu.”
Available only through QR Code on your phone, the Internet-only menu currently features wild mushroom bisque ($12) with truffle cream and parmesan bisque; the melt-in-your-mouth, slow-roasted prime rib ($44); surf and turf ($105) with an 8-ounce filet and lobster tail; the black and blue burger ($19) with blue cheese, blackened spices and applewood bacon; a buffalo hot potato ($10) with blue cheese butter, buffalo dust and Guy’s buffalo sauce; and two desserts including a fudge brownie sundae ($10) with vanilla ice cream, fudge brownie, Heath Bar crunch, candied walnuts, whipped cream, caramel and hot fudge; and the Triple Double Pie ($11) with mint chocolate chip ice cream, Junior Mints, peppermint hot fudge and Oreo cookie crust.