After months of speculation and rumors, it’s official: Luke Palladino will open his third area restaurant at Revel in Atlantic City, a diverse concept that blends quick service, sit-down dining and Italian market.
Luke’s Kitchen & Marketplace is under construction and located near Lugo Cucina e Vino and Mussel Bar by Robert Wiedmaier and is expected to debut around the Fourth of July holiday.
“I am so excited about the concept; it’s something I have wanted to do for a very long time,” Palladino says. “I wanted to show off what we do best but on a more inexpensive, approachable level. But it’s all what we do, using best ingredients, whether they are imported cheeses and oils and meats or produce from local farms. At the same time, it’s nothing like the other two restaurants. It’s new, fresh and different.”
The Galloway Township resident also owns Luke Palladino Seasonal Italian Cooking in Northfield, a 30-seat gourmet restaurant, as well as the much larger Luke Palladino gourmet restaurant inside Harrah’s Resort, which is one of the best restaurants in the city. But Luke’s Kitchen & Marketplace should introduce another side of the chef.
“Fortunately, I am able to travel a lot, and I kept noticing when you are in a casino or airport, you are trapped for food,” he says. “We went to all of the major casinos in Vegas and realized there were no great quick concepts. There’s nothing compelling or fun or exciting. They treat them like utilities. You are stuck with it and they nail you with high prices. So I wanted to change that and turn the casual concept on its ear. We are going to provide a fun, cool experience with the same great food you would expect from us on a different level and price scale, and that’s exciting.”
Open around the clock, Luke’s Kitchen & Marketplace will be open nearly around the clock, offering everything from breakfast to late-night snacks.
“There will be pastries, gelato, kick-ass pizza, Panini, pasta, fish and a grill station,” Palladino says. “You will be able to see what we are doing and order from kiosks, then we can take it out to you, or you can pack it up to go. There will be craft beer, domestic beer, an awesome wine list and great coffee and specialty drinks. And we are going to do an awesome tribute to hot dogs with various dogs and wieners on various buns with toppings and styles from around the state that’s going to be really cool.”
Luke’s Kitchen & Marketplace will resemble and feel like an Italian marketplace. Designed by longtime Palladino collaborator Scott Eccard, the eatery will feature an 80-seat courtyard and will continue the black-and-white theme of the other Palladino restaurants.
“It’s going to be warm and inviting and have an Italian apothecary look,” Palladino says. “There’s wood floors, and it’s very beautiful.”
Prices will be affordable, despite Palladino’s devotion to the best ingredients. Panini will start at about $7.50, with 12-inch pizzas priced at about $12. Baked pastas and lunch items will be priced in the low teens, while dinner entrees will be in the low $20 range, including ribs, fried chicken, lobster and Italian specialties.
The retail section of the market will feature everything from Italian imported wines and cheeses, condiments, oils and pastas made by Palladino’s staff and dried.
“And when you eat here, you eat on plates with silverware,” Palladino says. “It’s a quick-serve concept with class.”
Palladino, who is also known for debuting three restaurants simultaneously at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa when it opened in 2003 — Specchio, Ombra and Risi Bisi — has been praised for his innovative and modern approach to traditional Italian cooking, making nearly everything from scratch and using the best ingredients imported from Italy.
The chef is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and also worked in residency for four years in Italy. He has worked alongside some of the world’s greatest chefs, including Emeril Lagasse and Paul Bertolli.
“I think we are the all-in, complete package because we have everything from a full-service, sit-down experience to quick service to marketplace, and we are open day and night,” Palladino says.