Some people mark birthdays, anniversaries and vacations on their calendars. Foodies write down when Restaurant Week is.
Atlantic City Restaurant Week returns to Atlantic County March 4 to 10. And although the number of restaurants participating is down from 83 last year to about 70 this year, that's still a lot of restaurants to choose from.
All participating restaurants offer three-course lunches at $15.12 per person and dinners for $33.12. Some are offering more than three courses. And one restaurant - Red Square inside The Quarter at the Tropicana - is even offering four courses and an after-dinner shot.
Organized by the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority and sponsored by The Press of Atlantic City, Atlantic City Restaurant Week offers some tremendous values as well as the ability to check out restaurants you may have never been exposed to before.
Here's how it works: Check out our sidebar of all of the restaurants. Some are offering just lunch. Some offer just dinner. Some are offering both. Some restaurants are doing it every day. Some are excluding weekends. Some are even opening on days they do not usually operate. No matter which restaurant you choose, the price is $15.12 per person for lunch, $33.12 for dinner, per person. Make reservations by calling the numbers provided or go to acrestaurantweek.com. Keep in mind all of the prices do not include drinks, tax or gratuity.
We looked over all of the Restaurant Week menus. Here are some restaurants that caught our eye that might be worth checking out if you are having trouble making a decision. We even broke them down into categories.
Knife & Fork Inn: Offering lunch and dinner options, you can't go wrong either way at this Atlantic City institution. For lunch, shrimp-chorizo jambalaya and the crab cake sandwich sound like winners. For dinner, a 10-ounce filet is very generous for the price, and the bourbon-glazed bone-in pork chop sounds scrumptious.
Luke Palladino: Harrah's new Italian concept from acclaimed chef Luke Palladino is receiving rave reviews and culinary buzz for a reason: it's excellent. Try the truffled grissini, breadsticks brushed with truffle butter, grated parm and wrapped in prosciutto; crisp risotto fritters filled with truffled sottocenere cheese and scallions; light-as-a-feather potato gnocchi; pork osso buco with orange Gremolata and rosemary-scented potatoes; and orange-scented panna cotta to wrap things up.
Red Square: One of the most underrated restaurants in the city brings it again this year. It is the only restaurant during Restaurant Week to offer four courses, plus you get a free night cap: a vodka-infused chocolate cherry shot. The courses include lobster bisque, an arugula and spinach salad; choice of four entrees including the best chicken Kiev you will ever have, Roquefort filet mignon, blacked Ahi tuna or angel hair pasta and crab. Then indulge in strawberries Romanoff or ice creams and sorbet.
Scarduzio's Steak Sushi & Lounge: Philadelphia chef Chris Scarduzio's first solo venture in Atlantic City is one of the best new restaurants in town and one of the best steakhouses, period. Spicy crunchy tuna roll, 6-ounce filet mignon, homemade cavatelli pasta and apple jack cake will show you why.
Steve & Cookie's By The Bay: If you've never had the double-cut stuffed pork chop with apple, applewood-smoked bacon, farmhouse white cheddar cheese, maple roasted sweet potato and crispy parsnip with Jack Daniels glaze, you haven't lived. It's on the Restaurant Week menu with other goodies including lobster mac and cheese, walnut-crusted black pearl salmon and peanut butter pie.
Dock's Oyster House: One of the city's oldest and finest restaurants offers house favorites such as Maine clam chowder, pecan-crusted salmon and panko-crusted Chesapeake oysters, plus awesome key lime pie.
Mia: Philadelphia chefs and restaurateurs Chris Scarduzio and George Perrier are offering an amazing menu with five choices of appetizers (have the artichoke ravioli with smoked bacon and parmesan butter sauce) and six entrees, including Chianti-braised short ribs, crispy Bronzino and shellfish risotto.
Wolfgang Puck American Grille: Our favorite celebrity chef in town doesn't disappoint with dishes that include hone-crisp apple salad with spicy almonds and blue cheese, spicy seafood ravioli with shrimp and crab, or red-wine braised short rib with creamy parmesan polenta. Don't forget the warm melting chocolate truffle cake.
Value casino dinner
Arturo's: Another underrated restaurant in the city, this Italian gourmet eatery inside Bally's features baked clams, escarole and meatballs with orzo pasta, lobster risotto, veal topped with prosciutto, fontina cheese and cream polenta, and crispy homemade "Zeppolies."
Casa di Napoli: Showboat's Italian restaurant recently debuted a new menu, and Restaurant Week is a good place to check it out with selections such as escarole and white bean soup, linguini with clams, cavatelli with sausage and desserts including fresh ricotta cheese pie.
Il Mulino New York: Perhaps the most expensive restaurant in the city, this is the week to check out the New York-based Italian restaurant at Trump Taj Mahal. Check out why diners pay more than $100 per person for just $33.12, particularly eggplant rollatine, salmon alla Griglia with porcini mushrooms, porcini ravioli, veal Saltimbocca, tiramisu and more.
Morton's The Steakhouse: One of the most expensive steakhouses in town becomes affordable for a week, offering a choice of two salads, two entrees (broiled salmon or Chicken Christopher) and double chocolate mousse, New York cheesecake or creme brulee for dessert. You can upgrade to a filet mignon for an entree for an extra $7.
Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse: The Landry's-brand steakhouse at Golden Nugget is one of the newest steakhouses in town, and it is also one of the best. But instead of paying 50 bucks just for a steak, you can have three courses during Restaurant Week, including lobster bisque, a 6-ounce filet mignon, shrimp scampi and croissant bread pudding.
Value casino lunch
6ix, A Bistro: If you're looking for a hearty meal, this Bally's cafe is the place. Ultimate beef sliders with hickory-smoked bacon can start you off. Then treat yourself to "The Godfather of Hoagies," with sweet Italian sausage, frying peppers, eggs, Giardiniera vegetables and french fries.
24 Central: If the name didn't give it away, this Trump Plaza establishment is open 24 hours a day. Have a homestyle lunch with their meatloaf or chicken parmesan. Or try a crispy ranch chicken sandwich or A.C. Hoagie.
The Metropolitan: It might just be serving lunch, but that won't make it any less upscale. Try the braised short ribs with wild mushrooms or order a Cuban panini with roasted pork, smoked ham, swiss cheese, pickle, mango mojo and Dijon mustard.
N.O.W.: The main course list is short on noodles, but heavy on fried rice. Try it with Hong Kong beef, XO shrimp or Kim Chi. Chicken lo mein and General Tso's chicken help round out the options.
Value non-casino dinner
Historic Smithville Inn: With great menus for both lunch and dinner, the landmark inn's dinner with two salads or panko-crusted fried tomato with roasted peppers and gorgonzola cheese for apps; steak rollentini chipotle brown sugar-rubbed salmon, shrimp Francais or stuffed pork chop for entree; and Grand Marnier creme brulee for dessert.
The Melting Pot: The only fondue restaurant in the area is a blast for a romantic dinner or a night out with a group of people, and at this price, a major bargain. Choose any cheese fondue on the menu, then move on to the main course that includes filet mignon, Buffalo chicken, Old Bay shrimp, Memphis-style BBQ pork and veggies. Then top it off with your choice of any chocolate fondue on the menu.
The Palm: Consistently one of the best steakhouses in the city, The Palm's special menu features escargot, two salads, French onion soup, a 9-ounce peppercorn-crusted filet mignon, Nova Scotia lobster ravioli, cedar-plank salmon, stuffed pork chop and its to-die-for bread pudding and key lime pie.
Ruth's Chris Steak House: Located at The Walk, Ruth's Chris is known for its awesome steaks, particularly because they are broiled with a big splash of butter that melts on top. Restaurant Week includes choice of two salads, three desserts (chocolate sin cake, yum!) and four entrees, such as the petite filet mignon, double pork chop and Atlantic salmon.
Tomatoe's: One of the best appetizer menus for Restaurant Week includes its Rocket Salad with organic arugula, lollipop chicken drumettes in a hoisin glaze, California roll with jumbo lump crab meat, a flatbread of the day, plus entrees such as a sushi platter and pan-seared salmon. Plus, don't forget the tiramisu and spiced banana cake.
Value non-casino lunch
The Grill Room at Seaview: Have a lunch that is as simple and as filling as you can ask for. "Atlantic County" clam chowder will get you ready for your meal. Choose from flatbread pizza, an artisan BLT or a fried chicken salad and end with a Valrhona chocolate lava cake.
Joseph's Restaurant: Impress your lunch guest with these menu options. Choose from grilled flatbread, an Italian focaccia sandwich or Orecchiette, including sweet Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, roasted garlic and extra virgin olive oil.
Ram's Head Inn: If you're looking for a romantic midday meal, you can't beat the value here. Keep things fresh with house-cured salmon and smoked cod and fill up on a chicken pot pie or crabmeat quiche.
AC Country Club Tap Room Bar & Grill: Take advantage of the low prices to experience the fine dining here. Warm up with French onion lobster soup or seared jumbo scallops to start. Choose between short rib sliders, butternut squash ravioli or the blues burger.
Phillips Seafood: Enjoy all the sea has to offer here. Choose between steamed mussels and Maryland vegetable crab soup for your appetizer and try to select from Chesapeake crab cake sandwich, fish and chips or a crispy fish BLT to fill up your stomach.
Chelsea Prime: Executive Chef Jason Hanin really knows how to create fabulous, modern dishes rooted in classic preparations. Check out his menu that includes shortrib sliders, grilled jumbo shrimp with a 4-ounce filet, seared tuna and more. Plus, the elegant setting overlooking the ocean is awesome.
Gallagher's Steakhouse: Resorts' New York-style steakhouse goes the seafood route with clam chowder, clams casino, crab cakes and grilled tilapia for choices that go well with a 16-ounce prime rib, 5-ounce filet mignon and all the fixins. Chocolate Frangelica cake also sounds delish.
Max's Steakhouse: Trump Plaza's traditional, masculine steakhouse recently released a new menu, so this is a great way to sample it. Choice of six appetizers include calamari and Ahi tuna; entrees include prime rib, rigatoni Bolognese and a seafood pot; and finish up with New York cheesecake or gelato.
Nero's Tuscan Steakhouse: Another standout steakhouse in the city, Nero's surf and turf with beef tenderloin, crab cake, grilled shrimp and lobster-red wine sauce is worth the price alone. Other options include angel hair pasta-wrapped shrimp in a Fra Diablo sauce, Saba-braised short rib and steakhouse cheesecake with cherries.
The Reserve Seafood & Steak: Bally's awesome restaurant with ocean views has really come a long way thanks to young, creative Chef Joseph Muldoon. He won't pull any punches for Restaurant Week with tantalizing offerings such as soft-baked egg and brioche with pancetta, tomato sweet-and-sour fried calamari, cedar-plan roasted salmon with velvet soy butter, kobe beef and veal meatloaf with Gouda cheese grits, and creme-Anglaise-infused blueberry soup.
East Bay Crab & Grille: The world is your oyster here, with plenty to choose from for lunch and dinner. Get your fill of escargot, sliders or bangin' shrimp before you try a surf and turf combo or BBQ baby back ribs.
Old Waterway Inn: Just serving dinner, indulge in crab bisque, clams casino, Waterway wings or fried calamari to start. For dinner try and choose between a crab cake platter, mussels over linguine, filet mignon or flounder Francaise.
FIN at the Tropicana: A menu that is short, sweet and fresh off local fishermen's boats. Try Barnegat Light monkfish, which is pepper bacon-wrapped Viking Village monkfish with broccolini and a lobster buerre blanc.
Chart House: Enjoy the view of the waterfront and the view of your plate when you dine on bronzed mahi mahi, shrimp and scallops or braised short rib and finish with a decadent creme brulee with fresh raspberries.
Atlantic Grill: Usually housing a raw bar and fresh sushi, you won't find anything here that won't warm you up, except the lemon brulee tart for dessert. Between roasted Scottish salmon, mushroom risotto, or Maytag crusted filet mignon, there won't be a wrong choice.
A Touch of Italy: Here you can try a white spinach pizza out of the brick oven for an appetizer. Never sure which ravioli to choose? Get them all here in the seafood ravioli combination, with shrimp, lobster, crab and spinach topped with crabmeat in a vodka sauce.
Fornelletto Cucina & Wine Bar: This Borgata restaurant has a way of keeping things creative. Try something new with monkfish Francese and roasted baby zucchini. Or start things off with whipped ricotta and sweet garlic crostini.
Capriccio: Appetizers fall short here with just soup or salad, but the entire dessert menu is open and entrees have enough variety to keep everyone satisfied. Indulge in the ravioli al quattro formaggie e tarfufo, which has four cheeses and truffle cream.
Girasole Ristorante: The lunch menu here deviates from typical Italian fare. Start with cold, yellowfin tuna, sundried tomatoes, scallions, black olives and vinegar and fill up on Cervellata, a dish of homemade hot and sweet sausage, broccoli rabe and cannellini beans.
Il Verdi: Strictly dinner, there is a short list of items to choose from. But each item is so indulgent you can't really blame them. Save room for Petti de pollo trifolato, sauteed French chicken breast with Vidalia onions, wild mushrooms, broccoli rabe and baby potatoes.
Great menu variety
Carmine's: The only thing bigger than their family-style meals is their menu selection for Restaurant Week. Lunch and dinner feature the same long list of apps. For dinner, choose from eight different, traditional options, such as penne pasta Bolognese.
Continental Restaurant: Every day offers different dinner options, such as a Kobe slider, Asian shrimp po boy, grilled Thai chicken skewer or BBQ salmon. See this restaurant's entry under desserts for the highlight of this meal.
The Foundation Room: Sit in the fireside lounge at this House of Blues tapas restaurant while deciding on meal options. Start off with golden crab gazpacho or bacon-wrapped dates and fill up on Himalayan shrimp & scallop or beef tournedo, with caramelized onion, roasted poblano and exotic mushroom.
New kids on the block
Restaurants that weren't around last year that joined Restaurant Week.
East Wind Noodle Bar: One of the best noodle bars in the city doesn't offer the biggest selection, but it's guaranteed to be tasty. Try the stir-fried seafood with scallops, shrimp and lobster with house fried rice or the lo mein with choice of chicken, shrimp, roast pork or veggies.
Grotto: The newest restaurant in town - it opened a week ago - is the latest from Landry's and Golden Nugget. Experience Italian food at its best with great lunch and dinner menus. Selections include rigatoni with grilled Italian sausage in a garlic cream sauce; salmon with roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and capers in a lemon white wine sauce; veal with artichokes, mushrooms and Frascati wine sauce; and tiramisu.
Harry's Oyster Bar & Seafood: The Dougherty's of Dock's Oyster House and Knife & Fork opened a seafood house at Bally's last summer. Check it out during Restaurant Week for lunch or dinner. Recommendations: New England clam chowder; mahi mahi soft tacos; fish and chips; BBQ pulled pork sandwich; and warm chocolate chip cookies with milk.
Nanking: The only Asian fusion restaurant that offers Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisine under one roof, Nanking has solid lunch and dinner entrees with selections that include chicken lollipops with shallots, ginger and cilantro; basil-ginger chicken; chili tilapia sauteed with hot pepper, soy and red onion; shrimp and cashew rolls; mussels; coconut jumbo shrimp; and banana egg rolls.
Sammy D's: The newest 24-hour casino cafe at Harrah's by Chef Sammy DeMarco and BR Guest is undoubtedly the best and most creative cafe in town. His Restaurant Week menu proves it with "broken noodle chicken soup," oversized, Fred Flinstone-like slow-roasted prime rib, chicken parm ala Mama DeMarco and "busted cake" in a glass for dessert.
Buddakan: Stephen Starr's Asian fusion restaurant remains one of the best restaurants in the city. And the dinner menu doesn't hurt its reputation with butternut squash dumplings, wasabi-crusted filet mignon; and Zenful donuts filled with sweet cream and served with banana and chocolate dipping sauces.
Dos Caminos: The only Mexican restaurant in a casino, this Harrah's eatery offers dinner with tuna ceviche; whole-grilled Mediterranean sea bass with rice and sour orange salsa; filet with applewood bacon and poblano chiles and chimichurri salsa; sauteed shrimp with chorizo; and tres leche cake.
Izakaya: Chef Michael Schulson's modern Japanese pub not only offers great food, but a cool vibe with a DJ spinning music all night. Eleven first-course selections include his signature edamame dumplings, three different types of rolls and various meats grilled Robatayaki-style. Main courses include glazed black cod, grilled filet or seared scallops. And dessert includes a wide array of homemade ice creams and sorbets.
Los Amigos: The southwestern and Mexican restaurant's lunch and dinner menus look awesome with house favorites offered such as potato and cheese flautas; a rajas and queso tamale; pork fajitas; chicken mole enchiladas; shrimp ceviche with fried plantains; and carne asada. Desserts look awesome, too, including Reese's peanut butter cup and churros.
Sofia: If Greek is your thing, Sofia is the only Greek joint offering a menu during Restaurant Week. If Spanakopita, Saganaki, Haloumi, Horiatiki; Yiovets and seafood Plaki mean anything, this place is for you.
Fred & Ethel's Lantern Light Tavern: This restaurant is sticking to what it knows best: classic American fare with signature tastes. Try buffalo shrimp wontons or crab imperial stuffed portabella for an appetizer and a flat-iron burrito or pork osso bucco for your entree.
Tun Tavern Brewery and Restaurant: A gourmet brewpub that isn't short on tasty beers and a casual atmosphere. Go beyond ordinary bar food with sesame-encrusted Ahi tuna, a pesto burger or homemade crab cakes.
Back Bay Ale House: Keeping true to its Key West theme, this eatery offers Jamaican chicken wings as an appetizer and a Jamaican jerk combo for dinner. Or try the seafood sampler, which features fried shrimp, mini crab cakes and Corona-battered cod filet.
Atlantic City Bar & Grille: Dinner is your best option here, where you can choose between entrees of lobster tail, filet mignon, N.Y. strip steak and zuppa de pesce, which is mussels, clams, shrimp, scallops and calamari in a scampi sauce over linguini.
Trattoria Il Mulino: Simple ingredients fused together to make savory meals is the theme here. Try the homemade ricotta ravioli or gnocchi Bolognese, which includes braised veal and beef in its meat sauce, then finish off with a fresh cannoli.
Save more $$, Go to a BYOB
Latz's By the Bay: A new restaurant that follows the Latz family traditions, patrons have a choice of soup or salad and two entrees for both lunch and dinner, plus dessert. Dinner entrees include roasted free-range chicken with organic sweet potatoes and pan-seared salmon; a turkey reuben wrap or lime-grilled chicken brochettes are offered at lunch.
Red Room Cafe: Only serving dinner, this cafe is making its entire menu available for Restaurant Week. One featured item is filet mignon with mushrooms and onions in a port-wine reduction topped with jumbo lump crabmeat.
FIN at Tropicana: Satisfy your sweet tooth when you choose between Fin's chocolate jubilation cake, chocolate buttermilk cake infused with caramel and dulce de leche ice cream, or a Meyer lemon cheesecake with lemon curd and fresh berry compote.
The Continental: The ultimate dilemma: choosing between the peanut butter cup, which has creamy chocolate and peanut butter mousse, chocolate crunch and caramel sauce, or caramellow, a flourless chocolate cake with a liquid center and caramel-coconut sorbet.
Los Amigos: Sometimes life gives you difficult choices. Do you choose the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and churros, or the banana creme, a whipped banana cream with banana liquor topped with Oreo crumbs and fresh banana slices? Share so you don't have to choose.
Johnny's Cafe: Caramel apple walnut pie and a seven-layer chocolate cake will show why the owner was a baker by trade before he opened Johnny's. The food is awesome, too, including rack of lamb, filet mignon, veal Oscar or fisherman's catch of the day. Get there early and enjoy the cafe's new martini bar.
Harry's Oyster Bar: Here any dessert lover is sure to be satisfied. Choose from a dessert trio of chocolate cake, carrot cake and key lime pie, or warm chocolate chip cookies and milk, or Harry's ice cream sundae.