Atlantic City restaurants embrace the farm-to-table trend

Chef Mitchell's fava bean sweet pea tortellini is worth the drive to the beach.
Chef Mitchell’s fava bean sweet pea tortellini is worth the drive to the beach.

You may not be able to order your favorite dish at one of the restaurants at Caesars, Bally’s, Showboat or Harrah’s at the beach this weekend — it depends what was caught that day. The four casino-hotels, part of Caesars Entertainment Corporation, are focusing on fresh, locally produced fare for Garden State to Plate, their Jersey-centric take on farm-to-table.

For executive chef Keith Mitchell, who oversees the restaurants at Caesars and Bally’s, it’s nothing new. “I’ve been doing locally sourced my whole career,” he told Metro last weekend, when we stopped by Atlantic Grill at Caesars to take in the panoramic views of the boards and beach and sample the chef’s fava bean sweet pea tortellini and house-made mozzarella with warmed sungold tomatoes.

The ingredients we gobbled up came from the 40-acre Masters Organic Farm in nearby Galloway. Masters provides produce exclusively for the Caesars properties, which means Mitchell gets to put in requests for what’s planted.

He has a similar relationship with fish and game suppliers.

“[The fisherman] will go out for clams, and I’ll get a message at 5 a.m. saying they also caught swordfish. And then we’ll design the menu around that,” he said.

With New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware offering gambling, Atlantic City has been making a big push to bring in money from restaurants and retail, not just slots and tables — and it seems to be working, Mitchell said. The majority of diners at Atlantic Grill and next-door Nero’s Tuscan Steakhouse are not gamers. People are now coming just to eat, and Mitchell wants to make sure they eat well.

The city and the casinos used to just “throw money at everything,” he said. “But people are paying more attention to what they eat and where it comes from. You have to be smart. You have to be thoughtful about what you’re putting on the menu.”

Celebrity chefs
Restaurateur extraordinaire Stephen Starr, of Morimoto, Continental, El Vez, Barclay Prime and others, is partially behind Atlantic City’s transformation into a foodie town, Chef Mitchell said. When Starr brought two of his chic Philadelphia restaurants, Buddakan (also in New York) and Continental, to the Pier Shops at Caesars, people started to realize there’s a market for that. Of course, bringing in celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Jose Garces, who have restaurants in the Borgata and Revel, doesn’t hurt either.

A few more “big name” celebrity chefs are planning to debut restaurants in AC, Mitchell said — but he’s “not at liberty” to give us the scoop on exactly who just yet.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."