Seablue, Michael Mina's acclaimed seafood restaurant at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, wants to show diners that it can be a casual, inexpensive escape as well as an upscale destination by offering its "Social Hour" from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays to Sundays.
With specially-priced bar menu items and cocktails, it's one of the best happy hour deals you'll find in an Atlantic City casino. And Executive Chef Anthony Amoroso is dazzling diners with his creative takes on light bites.
Amoroso, a New Jersey native who defeated Masaharu Morimo recently on The Food Network's "Iron Chef," changes the menu regularly since the "Social Hour" offerings depend on fresh, seasonal items as much as the regular menu does.
"The 'Social Hour' is a way for us to show people they shouldn't be intimidated by the restaurant," Amoroso says. "It's a great menu to show that we are accessible. With lower prices and smaller portions, it gets people to try new things that they might not take a chance on if it's a full entr�e. They might not take a chance on something for $18, but for $8 they'll try it and hopefully say, 'Wow, I wasn't sure I would like that, but that was great.' And then it piques their interest in the restaurant and they keep coming back with friends and make it a regular stop. People are creatures of habit. They have to feel comfortable with their choices. So this is a great way for them to get to know Seablue."
Staples include crispy calamari ($5), rock shrimp lettuce cups ($6), spicy hamachi poppers ($5), ahi tuna tartare ($6). Cheeseburger sliders ($7) and mini fish sandwiches ($7) that are made with everything from swordfish to grouper.
"There hasn't been a week where we didn't take away one thing and add another," Amoroso says. "We use all fresh ingredients, never frozen. And we try to stick to local ingredients, as well. Even our squid is local."
The bar also gets involved with 10 special $8 cocktails such as the Seablue Sangria (peach and basil-infused Riesling), the New York Sour (Bulleit bourbon, fresh lemon and red wine) and the Tangerine Cosmopolitan. (Hangar One Mandarin Blossom vodka, Cointreau, fresh lime and tangerine juice).
"Social Hour" is part of a property-wide effort to draw locals while pleasing regulars with affordable dining options. Its "Izakaya Mondays" with $7 sushi and other food and drink specials and "Wine Down Wednesdays" at Fornelletto with specially priced small plates paired with wines are also popular options.
Amoroso says he would like to evolve the "Social Hour" menu into a regular lounge menu.
"I think that there is a perception here that this place is expensive, and the truth is that you can come in here and have a nice experience and not break the bank with the normal menu," Amoroso says. "A regular lounge menu would create a constant bar scene while also offering fairly affordable menu items all of the time. Plus, we can do it a little bigger if we don't confine it to 'Social Hour' It would give us the opportunity to do things we wouldn't offer on our regular menu and have a little fun with it."
In the world of poker, it doesn't get bigger than the World Series of Poker, and Harrah's Resort will offer players the chance to qualify for a $10,000 seat in the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event when it hosts a circuit stop that will go from Friday, Dec. 4, to Dec. 20.
Coming off Joe Cada winning more than $8.5 million and becoming the youngest Main Event champ in the tournament's 40-year history, the World Series of Poker seems to keep gaining momentum as it remains the richest sporting event on the planet.
The Harrah's tournament will feature 17 events with buy-ins ranging from $200 Turbo No Limit Hold 'Em to $5,000 for the No Limit Hold 'Em finale.
The event is expected to draw some top players as the winner of the final event will qualify for the coveted seat at the Main Event, which will once again be held at The Rio in Las Vegas. Winners of all events will receive a World Series of Poker ring, or for the WSOP Ladies Only No-Limit Hold 'Em final, a pendant.
The circuit event will receive a nice kick-off with a "Philadelphia vs. New York" theme as New York's Brandon Tierney and Philadelphia Harry Mayes of ESPN affiliates in those cities will host a 10-person tourney on opening day, with the top three winners receiving entry into the circuit tourney.
For more information or to register, go to www.wsop.com or call 609-441-5741.
"Dancing with the Stars" hottie Joanna Krupa hit Borgata last weekend for a girls getaway. The Playboy cover girl dined at Wolfgang Puck American Grille before checking out Robin Williams' sold-out show on Saturday night. Krupa was at the casino to celebrate her December Playboy cover at a mur.mur party, where DJ Eric Cubeechee was spinning music, including Krupa's new single, "I'll Be Around," a duet with Manon. Cubeechee is competing on the new Bravo reality fashion series, "Launch My Line," which premiered Tuesday with contestants competing to have their own clothing line.
Over at the Tropicana Casino and Resort, the Beach Boys' Mike Love dropped into Planet Rose for an interview with the karaoke bar's owner, Dave Pena, that was broadcast on Trop Live Radio, which is broadcast throughout The Quarter Thursdays to Saturday nights. The Beach Boys played two packed show at the Trop and ate dinner at The Palm, where Love's caricature was unveiled on its famed wall.
And Resorts Atlantic City received a surprise visit from Eric Anzalone. If that name doesn't roll off your tongue, it probably shouldn't. He is better known as The Biker from The Village People. Anzalone partied with friends at Boogie Nights, hung out in the VIP section and signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans.
Borgata wins award
The Society of American Travel Writers awarded The Silver Aaron D. Cushman Award to Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa for is Water Club launch.
According to the STWA, the national award honors outstanding campaigns on the public relations side that brings attention to hotels, destinations and attractions.
Brunch with Santa
Northfield's Atlantic City Country Club, owned by Harrah's Entertainment, is offering brunch with Santa Claus every Sunday through Dec. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The brunch includes omelet and carving station, breakfast and dinner entrees and a dessert buffet, plus children can take photos with Santa while listening to the Charter Tech Choir perform.
The brunch is $29.95 per person, $14.95 for children 5 to 12, free for children 4 and under.
Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino will hold its annual tree lighting 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4 in front of the casino. Santa Claus, a local choir and headliner Charlie Prose will help kick off the holiday season. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for Project Little Soldier.
By Scott Cronick