Lugo is moving. But it won’t be moving too far. The excellent Italian trattoria inside Revel will move to the former One location in hopes to be open by June 15. And it will have a new name: Lugo Italian.
LDV Hospitality, which owns Lugo as well as Iron Chef Marc Forgione’s American Cut steakhouse and Alain Allegretti’s Azure in Revel, will bring its casual Italian concept to the space because the current location was “challenging, to say the least,” according to John Meadow, principal and founder of LDV.
Currently tucked into a corner near Iron Chef Jose Garces’ Distrito Cantina, Lugo was likely overlooked by many Revel visitors. The new location, right off the casino floor and near self-parking elevators, is an opportunity Meadow says his company had to take advantage of.
“The best thing about Lugo in New York — and really the most drastic difference between the New York and Atlantic City restaurants — is the windows we have in New York,” Meadow says. “Lugo is supposed to be a bright, vibrant restaurant with lots of natural energy. And the new space at Revel will provide us that natural light and ocean views which we think will be spectacular. Combine that with the excitement of the casino floor and being right across from (Garces’ Spanish tapas restaurant) Amada, which is always busy, and we think it’s a perfect location for Lugo. The dynamic will be so much better. We had a tough location. We know this will be better.”
If you haven’t been to Lugo, you’re missing one of the best Italian restaurant experiences in Atlantic City. With a flagship location in New York City, the restaurant offers an eclectic menu that is both simple and upscale while also being accessible — both in price and familiarity.
When it moves, the Italian cafe will maintain its charming experience with a clean, black-and-white decor accented by matching photos of Italy, a wall of Italian liquors and a beautiful bar area. Think a modern version of Fellini’s Rome. But Meadow says the new Lugo will not be a carbon copy of its current Revel location, which will remain open until about a week before the permanent move.
“At the core, we are still Lugo and we will not change for the most part,” Meadow says. “But we are going to take advantage of that location and make things a bit sexier to fit in with Revel’s overall design. So some of the finishes will be a little sexier and have a little more of a nighttime-ish feel to be more in line with what is happening at Revel.”
Most of One’s floorplan will remain intact, particularly the long bar that stretches across the back of the restaurant. One’s lounge areas will be converted to dining room space.
Even though the prices are not as high as some other casinos’ Italian destinations, Lugo cuts no corners, offering all of its pasta made in-house and mozzarella stretched to order. Standout pasta dishes include ricotta and spinach ravioli in a butter sage sauce, the penne a la vodka with prosciutto and peas and the rigatoncini Bolognese with a traditional veal, pork and beef ragu and tomato sauce. The restaurant also offers six different styles of pizza made in a brick oven that are baked at 800 degrees and take about two minutes to completely cook.
Other can’t-miss dishes include balsamic-glazed Berkshire pork chop with creamy corn sugo; and the grilled marinated lamb chops with rustic potatoes and broccoli rabe. And don’t leave without trying the desserts such as the panna cotta with raspberry gelee; lemon ricotta cheesecake with blueberry compote and fresh berries; and fresh gelati and sorbet.
Meadow says the menu will remain intact and construction for the new Lugo restaurant has already begun.
LDV will also open an adjacent grab-and-go, European-style coffee bar adjacent to Lugo titled Corso Coffee, which also has a New York location. Featuring pastries, sandwiches and gourmet coffee, Corso Coffee will feature cafe seating in the middle of the corridor to accommodate guests. Corso wholesales and roasts its own coffee beans and also imports a high-end, seasonal, wood-roasted espresso named Ameri, which comes from the Florence region of Italy.
“We think the coffee we roast ourselves and what we import is pretty special,” Meadow says. “We actually sell it in many of the better New York restaurants. So why not sell it at our own coffee bar?”
Corso is also expected to open around June 15.
Two, which took the place of One and closed New Year’s Day, will not return. However, a new concept will be introduced by Memorial Day weekend. The 24-hour cafe, operated by Revel, will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the name has not been released.
Meadow says that while it’s not ideal to have to relocate an entire restaurant, he is optimistic about Lugo’s future.
“Investment is part of the business and you have to have a thick skin in business,” Meadow says. “American Cut and Azure have been fantastic restaurant experiences and are both profitable, and we couldn’t be happier about the way they turned out. We have 14 years left in our contract with Revel, so we are in for the long haul, and we think this move will make Lugo a destination restaurant just like our others.”