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Atlantic City Restaurant Week – Arturo’s March 7, 2009

Posted by hslu in Restaurants, Travel.
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Atlantic City Restaurant Week – March 1 – 7, 2009

Maria and I had talked about going to AC on her day off on March 2nd and 3rd but decided not to because weather forecast predicted a strong snow storm over the weekend. The big snow storm would cover the entire mid-Atlantic region and dump 4 to 8″ of snow.

The wet snow started to come down very heavy at 6:30 PM Sunday night when I went to work. I decided to close the restaurant ½ hour early so that my employees don’t have to drive in thick snow on the way home. Well, the snow stopped at 7:30 PM but I still let them go as promised.

The heaviest snow started around midnight and didn’t stop for about 8 hours. It dumped more than 4″ of snow in Northern Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey including Atlantic City. After the snow, the sky cleared and the sun was out late Monday morning.

I went to work as usual but wasn’t happy because my manager was late to work (without calling me) and the restaurant was staffed with a single front counter person who has limited ability to take orders from customers. I spent most of the lunch time taking orders as I normally do on Monday and left the restaurant around 2:30 PM. On the way home, I decided to check the road conditions on the web and see if we can get out of Virginia for a short break from the restaurant.

After I went home, Maria also wanted to know if we can go. I checked the cameras along I-95 and found that the road was cleared and traffic was moving nicely all the way to the Delaware Bridge. I told Maria to get our staff ready while I packed some cheese, nuts, salami, chips, turkey wing, drinks, and some fruit for lunch. Too bad, we couldn’t have some wine to go with these foods. It would be a wonderful picnic in the car.

We left at around 3:30 PM and ate our lunch in the car. The weather was nice and the snow was all but gone on the way to Atlantic City. We arrived at AC around 7 PM. We checked into a nice comp room at Bally’s and decided to try the Restaurant Week pre fixe menu at The Reserve Steakhouse on the 6th floor in the casino. Unfortunately it was closed on Monday and Tuesday. We then went to Arturo’s and made a reservation for 8:30 PM.

We then tried our luck on penny slots but lost quickly. The only Texas Hold ‘em table was crowded with many people and the minimum bet was $20 plus $10 for the bonus. Since it was almost 8:30, I asked Maria to quit loosing pennies and start walking to the restaurant.

Arturo’s is a nice and romantic restaurant with tall ceiling and beautiful decorations. It has about 150 seats with views of the Atlantic Ocean. As we sat down, an Italian guy in his 50’s walked by with a tray of olives, a bread basket and a pitcher of water. The spiral steel bread basket was filled with 4 different kinds of bread: a couple of long bread sticks about 10″ long; two pieces of bread covered with minced olives and something else; a thin, crispy baked cheese bread in the shape of a half circle, and a sesame seed bun.

Our waitress showed up shortly after and asked us if we wanted to order something to drink. I asked for the wine menu and quickly offered one. I looked inside and found many affordable wines from the Napa Valley and Italy. I ordered a bottle of 2005 Sassoalloro from the Tuscany region. The reason that I ordered this wine is because it is made from 100% Sangiovese grape; the primary grape used in Chianti wines from the Tuscany region. When I tasted the ruby-colored wine I was surprised with its smoothness and hint of fruit on the nose. It was very pleasant on the palate with a lot of spices and ended with a strong and long finish. I liked it a lot and I will certainly add it to my collections later. We compared its regular menu and the special Restaurant Week menu and decided to go with the special for $33.09 per person.

This was what we have ordered:

• Appetizers:
o Vongole Cardinale – Baked Clams with Crabmeat, Italian Seasoning and Bread Crumbs
o Burattina con Prosciutto – Burattina Cheese with Prosciutto of Parma in Fig Vinocotto Vinegar

o Branzino ai Carciofi – Pan Roasted Chilean Sea Bass with Broccoli Rabe, Artichokes and Roasted Tomatoes
o Agnello Scottadito – Lamb Chops topped with Mostarda and Pine Nut Crust, String Beans and Mash Potato

o Venetian Fritters served warm with Lemoncello Zabaglione
o Sicilian Pistachio crème brulée with toasted biscotti

The baked clams with crabmeat were served on a bed of sea salt. The crabmeat was nicely baked with a thin crust over the clam meat which was juicy and hot. This was the first time we had Burattina Cheese which was a ball of mozzarella filled with mozzarella and cream. The cheese ball (about 3″ in OD) came out in the center of the rectangular plate surrounded by a generous portion of thinly sliced prosciutto drizzled with fig Vino Cotto vinegar, a sweet and thick syrup. The baked clams and cold prosciutto formed a nice combination. They were great with Sassoalloro. Nice choices.

Pan Roasted Chilean Sea Bass was beautifully presented on the plate and it tasted even better than it looked: firm on the inside and crusty on the outside. The portion was again very generous. The Broccoli Rabe was sautéed in olive oil which tasted like watercress. Artichokes and tomatoes were also good. The Lamb Chops were even better than the Sea Bass. It was extremely tender, very juicy, and warm in the center with only a slight hint of lamb taste. A great choice.

The Venetian Fritters was just okay. It was a bit over done but the crème brulée was great: velvety in the center, a slight taste of pistachio and a nice sugar crust on the top.

The service was tentative but not intrusive. The older gentleman was always around and the food runners were very courteous. We took our time enjoying our dinner, finished all the wine and stayed until 10:45 when we were the only patrons in the restaurant.

The meal costs $172: $65 for the wine, $33.03 each for the meal and $30 for the tips. We liked the restaurant very much and will definitely go back again.

After the dinner, we went back to the penny slots again but the Fortune God was still missing in action. We played for an hour or so and decided it was time to go to bed especially after finishing that bottle of wine and a heavy meal.

Tomorrow would be a new day and we would try our lucks at Tropicana instead because Tropicana is our favorite casino in Atlantic City.

Well what you know,  Tropicana proved itself again the next day. Although I lost $80 on Texas Hold ‘em and $40 on penny slots in the morning, I made about $140 on penny slots and $150 on Texas Hold ‘em with pocketed Aces (which paid 30 to 1) in the afternoon. Since Maria’s lost about $200 on slots, we ended up losing $100 which wasn’t too bad at all. We left Tropicana at 6:30 PM and drove to Borgata for dinner. Our second meal with Atlantic City Restaurant Week will be at Borgata’s Izakaya.

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