George Siganos does everything the right way. From The Marketplace locations at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and Tropicana Atlantic City to his Café Tazza locations at Harrah’s Resort and Caesars Atlantic City, the food is great, the presentations are dynamite and the prices are affordable.
So it should be no surprise that The Flavor Tour at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City — the restaurateur’s most recent and impressive culinary experience — may be his most impressive achievement yet.
Spanning thousands of square feet on the second floor of the casino between the giant escalators and the self-parking garage and encompassing six very eclectic locations — Chop & Toss Salad Company, The Green Bar, Burger & Hops, Asian Fusion, Pizata and Alexia’s Patisserie — The Flavor Tour has been wowing Hard Rock visitors since it opened last summer, and filling a very important need for food when many of Hard Rock’s restaurants are not open.
All of the locations defy the concept of other food courts by ensuring the freshest and best ingredients with most items cooked to order.
The variety is astounding, from Greek pastries and pies to burgers and shakes to healthy options such as fresh-pressed juices to Asian staples and sushi to gelato, pizza and everything in between.
Here’s what to expect at each of the six Flavor Tour locations with some advice on what to eat when you check it out:
Alexia’s Patisserie (Open 24/7): The location that makes everyone stop and stare thanks to its abundance of sweet offerings, pre-made sandwiches, gelato and Lavazza coffee and espresso drinks. On the savory side, grab a pre-made breakfast sandwich such as sausage, egg and cheese on a croissant, lunch options such as Caesar wraps and A.C. subs, and a variety of paninis on the savory side. On the sweet side, good luck choosing from an array of fresh-baked cakes, gourmet desserts — some in mason jars including tiramisu and Oreo mousse — and the best, homemade gelato you will find at the Jersey Shore.
Must haves: Siganos’ Greek heritage is on full display here, including homemade treats like baklava for something sweet, or savory traditional Greek and spinach pies along with more American favorites like a chicken pesto sub. Gelato flavors include everything from birthday cake to pistachio, and other must-have goodies include their home-baked cookies (get the Reese’s peanut butter cookie), cake pops including carrot cake and red velvet and any of the fresh-baked muffins with a Lavazza latte.
Asian Fusion (Open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily): There are three restaurants under one roof here: Siganos’ version of quick-serve Asian cuisine, sushi and udon.
Guests can mix and match traditional Chinese dishes such as sesame chicken, shrimp and mixed veggies and beef and broccoli for plates that also include rice and choice of lo mein or vegetable starting at $11.99
Udon soups are served with chicken, beef, vegetables or fish stock with fresh veggies, herbs and seasoning with choice of rice or udon noodles starting at $8.99.
And a variety of sushi is prepared from classic California rolls to the Philly with avocado, cream cheese, salmon and sesame.
Must haves: The Orange Lady, a shrimp tempura roll with cucumber crab mix and spicy mayo; the braised brisket udon; and a mixed Chinese plate with General Tso’s chicken and Angus steak with asparagus, mushroom and shredded onion.
Burger & Hops (Open 7 a.m. to 4 a.m. Sundays to Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 5 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays): The sign might say Burgers & Hops but it’s so much more than burgers and craft beer, with everything from nachos to hot dogs to chicken sandwiches. But the burgers — all made to order — are the main event, made from 100% premium fresh, ground, farm-raised angus beef in a variety of ways, from a simple single to the Psychedelic Rock with Portobello mushroom, spinach, fried onions and provolone.
Appetizers include poutine and chicken tenders, while standout hand-crafted sandwiches include a hot pastrami and Swiss on grilled rye and BBQ pulled pork with cheddar and cole slaw on a brioche roll. There are also hot dogs and milkshakes with names like the Oreo Mint Masterpiece and the Nutella Banana Bonanza and sides including onion rings and sweet potato fries.
There’s also breakfast including omelets, pancakes, French toast,, breakfast sandwiches, wraps and more.
Must haves: The Southwestern Chicken — grilled or fried — with cheddar cheese, guacamole, bacon, tomato and chipotle mayo; the Mad Dog, a hot dog with bacon, pepper jack cheese, BBQ sauce, jalapeno and fried onions; The Rock ’N Roll burger with bacon, American cheese, crispy onions and pickles; and the loaded nachos with chorizo chili, beer cheese, sour cream and green onion.
Chop & Toss Salad Company (Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays): Guests create their own salads of the freshest ingredients or they can choose from a menu of already prepared salads. There’s also soups, wraps, paninis and more. Aside from straight-up salads there’s grain bowls, wraps, paninis, tacos and more.
Must haves: The Greek salad with Romaine, cucumber, tomato, red onion, Kalamata olives, feta, red wine, vinaigrette, egg, Swiss cheese and honey mustard dressing; the Moroccan grain bowl with cous cous, chickpeas, kale, carrots, cucumbers, tomato, raisins, pita points and tzatziki and lemon tahini over brown rice or quinoa; and the buffalo chicken wrap or panini.
The Green Bar (Open 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays): All fresh, natural juices pressed right in front of you plus smoothies and acai bowls makes this another healthy alternative.
Juices include all of your staples along with watermelon, pineapple, carrot, cucumber and many others. Have them alone, make your own concoction or pick from a mixture already devised like the Watermelon Breeze with watermelon, pineapple, green apple and ginger.
You can even have the fresh juices mixed with alcohol for drinks like the Pina Colada, Blueberry Margarita and more.
Must haves: The Tropical Kick with pineapple, orange and strawberry juices; and the P.B. Acai Bowl with acai, banana, peanut butter, strawberry and cocoa powder.
Pizata (Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays, 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. Saturdays): Possibly our favorite stop on The Flavor Tour, you are the master of your meal as you can create your own pasta dish or pizza. Just look at the ingredients, tell your chef what to put on your pizza or in your pasta, and you’re golden! Or choose from a menu of their creations.
Everything is made to order, and the pizza — a crispy, flatbread style — is made in a conveyer belt oven right in front of you in minutes.
Must haves: The Shrimp Diavlo pizza with mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, garlic and shrimp; the meat lovers pizza with bacon, pepperoni, sausage (and ask for meatball); cheese ravioli in a blush sauce with meatballs; or a breakfast pizza like The Hangover with tomato sauce, scrambled eggs, green peppers, onions, potatoes, chicken, buffalo sauce and cheese.