When Vic & Anthony’s opened in 2011 as the Golden Nugget Atlantic City began its transformation into the amazing property it eventually became, it was immediately one of the best steakhouses in Atlantic City.
Three-and-a-half years later, it’s even better.
Now easily one of the Top 3 steakhouses in a city with more steakhouses than any city could possibly need, the Landry’s-owned restaurant is not only offering a creative menu that offers just enough modern sizzle to classic steakhouse dishes, it does it consistently.
Thanks to General Manager Anthony Fiorentino and Executive Chef Norman Reola — both hired within six months of Vic & Anthony’s opening — anyone who dines at the gorgeous venue will tell you that the steakhouse is the place to be … and the food is just part of the reason.
“I think Vic & Anthony’s feels like it’s the place to be right now,” Fiorentino says. “Golden Nugget has been transformed, and we were a big part of that transformation. It’s amazing how much it has changed, and we have evolved, as well. Our clientele has changed, too. When we opened, no one knew what Vic & Anthony’s was. Now, our restaurant here has just become so popular. The food speaks for itself, and with Landry’s behind it, people expect quality and they get it.”
Atlantic City is one of four Vic & Anthony’s locations, following the flagship location in Houston, which was awarded a coveted Michelin star, as well as Las Vegas, and their latest at the new Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, La. Like the other locations, Atlantic City’s version is stunning. The chic, modern design starts with a display case boasting thick meats and oversized lobster tails in the entrance. Inside, the bar features gigantic red chairs that nicely contrast with the wood accents of the room. The dining room is even more impressive. Separated into three areas, the rooms are all different, yet blend together. In the main room, two large, custom-designed wine walls encase a long row of plush, banquette seating. The private dining room in the rear of Vic & Anthony's features a dazzling red chandelier, matching the overall lighting of the entire restaurant.
Reola, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., is one of the reasons Vic & Anthony’s is so good. A believer in teamwork, Reola constantly lets his staff have input into featured dishes and special dinners.
“There is something about me that belongs in a steakhouse,” he says. “I have worked in them for 18 years including The Capital Grille and Del Frisco’s. And to me, consistency is the most important thing. When you come here, you know you are getting a great meal. It’s about getting good products and executing perfectly. Everything is made from scratch here. We make all of our own stocks — veal, chicken, lobster — no pre-packaged anything. And that’s Landry’s philosophy and that’s mine. And that’s the way they want it, but I wouldn’t be here if they didn’t want it that way.”
The steaks are the main attraction here: USDA prime, Midwest, grain-fed cattle butchered in a variety of cuts ranging from the 14-ounce New York strip ($49) to a 16-ounce ribeye ($48) to four bone-in options (try the prime porterhouse) are broiled at a high heat that is about 1,200 degrees at the flame, which sears the meat and captures its flavor.
Opt for the blue cheese bacon butter ($6) that gets placed on top of the steak and melts over it, or the bone marrow bordelaise ($6), which is one of the best steak sauces you will ever have.
“I think the strip is the best,” Reola says. “It’s like getting the steak that has it all. It has great flavor and great marbling but it’s not as soft as a filet and not as marbled as the ribeye.”
Other popular meat dishes include the 14-ounce veal chop ($47); the Chicken Paige ($28), served scallopine style with capers, sundried tomatoes and lemon butter; and Reola’s 12-ounce Berkshire pork chop ($37) with a hot cherry pepper fondue and Brussel sprouts, which can only be found at the A.C. location.
“The pork chop is something I would cook at home,” Reola says. “It’s a very regional, Northeast kind of dish. And our customers love it.”
But there are plenty of other reasons to go to Vic & Anthony’s, including the extensive appetizer menu that offers about a dozen choices such as fresh oysters on the half shell ($16 half dozen, $29 full dozen), steak tartare ($17) served beautifully on an salt block with homemade plantain chips; and the shrimp and crab martini ($20) with kimchi cole slaw and chips.
But if you’re only going to get one app, try the maple-glazed quail ($18) over dressed greens and finished with Sriracha sauce. They are like the best chicken wings you ever had … but they’re quail.
There’s also six salads — try the classic chopped ($10) or pear and Saga blue cheese ($13) — and seafood options including Szechuan pepper-crusted tuna ($37) with soy ginger and butter sauce; blackened scallops and polenta ($30) with crispy Brussels sprouts and Tabasco vinaigrette; and Reola’s favorite, cold-water Australian rock lobster tail.
“The fried lobster mac and cheese ($38 with cavatelli pasta in a lobster cream sauce) is very popular and people love to order it as an appetizer and share it, but my favorite thing is the Australian lobster tail,” he says. “The meat is so sweet. I think the colder the water, the better the lobster.”
The sides are worth the visit alone, particularly the sinfully cheesey macaroni and cheese ($10) and the duck fat potatoes ($10). And even the desserts ($6.95 to $9.95) are made in-house. Check out the key lime pie with vanilla-infused mangos; the croissant bread pudding with cinnamon custard, bourbon sauce and homemade caramel ice cream and toffee; and the red velvet cake with cream cheese mousse.
Fiorentino is particularly proud of his beverage program that includes signature cocktails such as the Downtown Margarita ($14) with jalapeno tequila, Domaine de Canton, ginger liqueur, Monin Agave Nectar and housemade sour, an extensive wine list, a wide array of craft beers and a killer bourbon selection.
“Trends change almost overnight, and we not only keep up with the scene, but we try to set the pace,” he says. “The staff is trained to know about everything we have. It’s not just about what we offer, but how we offer it.”
Fiorentino says he expects more Vic & Anthony’s to debut around the country and that the name will become synonymous with great dining nationally.
“For us, it’s about keeping things new and fresh, but even more importantly, being consistent and building relationships,” he says. “Our staff knows our customers by name when they walk in. Our managers are making sure every diner is happy, and Chef Norm goes out to the tables to make sure everything is perfect. Wherever Vic & Anthony’s go, they are successful, and that’s because we are about the whole experience. There are tons of steakhouses out there, but I can say we are up there with the best of them.”