ATLANTIC CITY — Husband-and-wife duo Mark and Deb Pellegrino spent about two decades working as chefs in city casinos, but now they’re opening a shop devoted to chocolate.
The couple came up with a bean-to-bar chocolate shop that will open as part of the Tennessee Avenue renaissance project. MADE Chocolate is slated for a grand opening Friday.
“We have seen the ups and downs in the city,” Deb Pellegrino said. “We wanted to contribute to the city and help it make a comeback.”
The shop, while not just a restaurant or bar, will offer chocolate made on site from hand-selected cocoa beans that could be paired with glasses of wine, beers and liquor.
The shop features a bar that faces a windowed room where the chocolate is made so customers can watch the process: The beans are hand-selected, roasted and spun to make the chocolate, which is then set in molds and hand-wrapped — a process that takes about a week to finish.
The Pellegrinos worked in casinos for more than 20 years — Mark served as the executive chef at Carmine’s at Tropicana Atlantic City and Deb as the executive pastry chef with Caesars Entertainment. The two wanted to bring a unique concept to the city that revolves around chocolate, Mark Pellegrino said.
The Tennessee Avenue project was launched in February 2017 when Alpha Funding Solutions CEO and Iron Room Restaurant owner Mark Callazzo partnered with Authentic City Partners’ Evan Sanchez and Zenith Shah to bring restaurant, bar and store concepts to the block between Pacific Avenue and the Boardwalk.
Callazzo’s original concept was to open a block of amenities for people who live locally. The group is trying to move as quickly as possible to open the initial concepts before trying to acquire more property to expand, he said.
In October, The Leadership Studio, a yoga and community studio, was the first business to open as part of the project. Other shops planned for the block, such as the Hayday coffee shop and the Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall, are aiming to open during the summer.
The Tennessee Avenue project has had its setbacks, however. The storefronts have been undergoing construction and improvements to be able to open this year.