More and more local restaurants are using organic produce and offering healthier protein alternatives, but Nero's Grill may be the most aggressive yet.
The longtime Caesars Atlantic City steak and seafood house will debut a new "green" menu in honor of Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, but the restaurant's commitment to promote organic agriculture and support local growers and artisinal food producers will be ongoing.
"It's something we've been working on for quite some time," says Caesars Director fo Food and Beverage Wil Lee. "We want to know where our food comes from, and the public is savvy and wants to know, too. So we developed a menu so local farmers can showcase their goods. This is more importantly a way of life than it is just a menu."
The new menu, which will change seasonally, is specific about where many of its ingredients come from. For example, the lettuce in the classic Caesar and iceberg salads is from Keller Farms in Egg Harbor Township, as does the arugula in the crispy free-range organic chicken Milanese.
"The proteins are part of the initiative, as well," Lee says. "Many of our proteins are purchased from River & Glen from North Jersey, which has been on the forefront of the movement in regards to sustainable proteins and fish. They can't get it, it's not able to be gotten. We will only buy ingredients when they are in season. So the menu will change based on that availability. We offer wild king salmon from Alaska, for example. Once that season is over, we won't have it as opposed to serving Atlantic salmon, which is farm raised."
Nero's Grill also features a wine program from organic wineries or wineries that use grapes that were grown sustainably. Others are made using biodynamic production techniques.
The cuts of beef will continue to be top-quality, including prime and angus quality, and the shellfish will be purchased locally, when possible.
"The scallops are from Cape May," Lee says. "If we can get shellfish locally, we will do that. And we only use vendors for our beef that can verify that the animals are processed in humane ways."
With a new menu that is health- and environmentally conscious, Lee thinks Nero's will find a new identity while maintaining its loyal customer base, particularly since the steakhouse lowered most of its menu prices by 20 to 40 percent.
"We think we have a good formula here," Lee says. "And we won't stop here. We plan to roll out organic and sustainable programs in all of our outlets. We are committed."
On Earth Day, Nero's will give customers free packets of Jersey tomato seeds.
Nero's Grill is open 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays, with brunch being served 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.
Pier also goes green
Some of The Pier Shops at Caesars' restaurants and retailer are also going green with ongoing commitments to be environmentally friendly.
LUSH: The cosmetics and body products store uses 100 percent post-consumer recycled packaging for 30 percent of its products, with 70 percent being package free. It also offers recycling rewards for customers. Those who bring back five of their black pots receive a free fresh mask.
One Atlantic: partners with AtlanticCare and donates all floral arrangements to the organization. It also allows clients to purchase carbon offsets for events through carbonfund.org. And it offers a 100-mile menu based on food foraged within a 100-mile radius.
Buddakan: uses organic vodka in its "Organic Prairie" and its melon sake martini.
Larimar Salon and Spa: Carries Aveda products manufactured with 100 percent wind power and offers 95 percent of its packaging made with derived, recyclable and biodegradable materials.
Tommy Bahama: Offers an eco-friendly line of women's fashions.
AG Adriano Goldschmeid: Its "Saving the World One Jean at a Time" program produces all of its denim using "Ozone Technology," a process that significantly reduces the company's water consumption, use of chemicals and energy. It also offers fashions that are made out of 100 percent Supima organic cotton.
Guess: Giving away a free eco-friendly tote with a purchase on Earth Day.
Swarovski: Make a Silver Crystal Society purchase and a donation will be made to the Water Project to educate children in sustainable management of water.
Season 4 cast members of the Oxygen Network's "Bad Girls Club," including Florina Kaja, Lexie Marie and Kate Squillace made an appearance at The Pool at Harrah's Resort last weekend. Steven Ward of VH1's "Tough Love" joined the girls for the night.
Rob Kardashian, best known for the E! reality series "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," hosted a party at Dusk last weekend. Kardashian hung out with Vanessa Simmons, daughter of Rev Run from Run-DMC.
Click on www.travelzoo.com and you'll see that Atlantic City is being showcased as the "Destination of the Week." The page launched on April 14 and will remain live on the Travelzoo Web site for four weeks.
Its Top 20 newsletter will be distributed to 12 million subscribers with a link to the A.C. "Destination of the Week" page. The page highlights travel deals and also features information on the Boardwalk, casinos, live music and retail options.
Resorts Atlantic City will offer Resorts Card holders a chance to win their share of thousands in free slot play on Sunday, April 24. Resorts will randomly select one winner every 30 minutes from 1 to 8 p.m. to receive $1,000 in free slot cash. Players are eligible to win multiple drawings. If the winner is an Elite or Ultra cardholder, that player will win $2,000.