In Atlantic City, dining with a water view is the best bet

Dos Caminos restaurant at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City is known for its spectacular sunsets.
Dos Caminos restaurant at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City is known for its spectacular sunsets. (GREGG KOHL / FOR THE DAILY NEWS)
Posted: August 24, 2012

SO, WHAT DO you want with that entrée? How about a Boardwalk skyline appetizer? Or a side of ocean? A sunset dessert, perhaps?

All are available at a variety of Atlantic City casino restaurants - at no extra charge.

Financially and aesthetically, dining rooms that provide patrons spectacular vistas are proving to be an important part of the town's marketing mix, as well as assets that set A.C. gambling dens apart from those in nearby states.

Since being converted from an upscale operation to an all-you-can-eat outlet earlier this year, Roberto's Ristorante Italian Buffet inside Trump Plaza has seen revenues rise 15 percent, according to Mike Mellon, senior vice president of operations for Trump Entertainment Resorts. While logic suggests the spike came from the much lower price point, Mellon is convinced the eatery's perch overlooking the midtown sections of the Boardwalk, beach and ocean makes more of the difference.

"If we put the same buffet at street level," Mellon said, "I don't think we'd do as well. Everyone who comes in here [asks], 'Can I get a seat overlooking the ocean?' "

With its multiple floor-to-ceiling windows, Azure by Allegretti at Revel is as much about the view as it is the acclaimed Mediterranean-influenced fare from New York-based celebrity chef Alain Allegretti.

The panorama Azure's location provides inside the $2.4 billion adult playpen - the far eastern end of the Boardwalk and the ocean just beyond it - "made everything," insisted the movie star-handsome Allegretti in the accent of his native Nice, France. "Without the view, it would have been completely different. The view was my motivation. This is a seafood restaurant facing the ocean. This is the perfect marriage."

Unfortunately, the massive expansion and replenishment project under way at what is now known as Revel Beach has marred the view from Azure with heavy construction equipment that should be gone by next year. But on a recent Saturday evening, the view was still interesting and romantic. As daylight faded, a solitary boat, its white, triangular sail set off by the pale-blue horizon sky and the deeper blue-gray of the Atlantic, serenely drifted along the horizon line.

While most casino restaurants with great views sit along the Boardwalk and boast ocean and beach sights, two casinos on the bay side of Absecon Island provide different perspectives.

Chart House at Golden Nugget Atlantic City faces south toward the strip of casino hotel towers that line the Great Wood Way, including Revel's 47-story glass edifice, which pretty much sits at 12 o'clock. A bonus in the foreground is the Frank S. Farley State Marina and the dozens of boats that fill its slips in warm-weather months, from basic day-fishing motorboats to opulent yachts valued well into eight figures.

"The boats, the water . . . it's absolutely gorgeous," said Dave Jodziewicz of Morristown, N.J., as he and his domestic partner, Anya Clitheroe, relaxed in the Chart House lounge early on a recent Wednesday evening.

Jodziewicz admitted that being able to gaze at the sights in front of him had quite a salutary effect, not only on him and Clitheroe but on the restaurant's bottom line.

"We came here to have one drink," he said. "We're on our third drink - and appetizers. It's just so relaxing here."

At Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, the upscale Mexican outlet Dos Caminos offers a one-of-a-kind public tableau. Through its windows one can see Absecon Inlet, an almost pristine horizon in the background with the salt marshes in front. But the real treats here are the spectacular sunsets.

"The sunset really creates an enjoyable atmosphere for everyone in the dining room," bragged Dos Caminos shift supervisor Benjamin Lihn. "We have guests who, once they join us and have one nice sunset, they're constantly coming back every time they're here in Atlantic City, every time they're at Harrah's Resort."

When they recently checked into their room at Harrah's, the desk clerk offered Todd and Jenny Scipioni and their son, Max, 9, of Lebanon, Pa., a table at Dos Caminos with a great view of the water. Their obvious conclusion was that they'd face the ocean; they were delighted when they wound up looking in the opposite direction.

"That was the icing on the cake because the meal here was second-to-none," enthused Jenny, who didn't seem too disappointed that cloudy conditions precluded a visible sunset that evening. "It really did enhance the whole experience. It was entertaining for Max. He was able to watch the wildlife and the birds and the boats. It's really fantastic."

In her case, however, the restaurant's financial health was negatively impacted by the view. It was "so calming, I didn't need cocktails," Jenny said. "So we saved $25."


Contact Chuck Darrow at 215-313-3134 or darrowc@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @chuckdarrow and read his blog philly.com/casinotes.

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