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Where Chefs Eat, A Restaurant Guide: Atlantic City

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Famous chef Mario BataliWho knows where to find incredible food better than the people that make their livelihood preparing, cooking and serving it daily?

Resident foodie Courtney Crowder recently attended the Savor Borgata dining event in Atlantic City, where world-renowned chefs from the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, including Wolfgang Puck of American Grille, Bobby Flay of Bobby Flay Steakhouse, and Michael Mina of Seablue, came together to showcase their cuisine.

In between sampling “grab-and-go” bites, Crowder polled the chefs to find out some of their favorite places to eat when they’re in town.

And guess what? While many chefs tend to “eat in” (as in, dining at each other’s restaurants inside the Borgata), there are two Atlantic City institutions that travelers shouldn’t miss:

Chef Vola’s


Hot sandwich appetizerThis small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant will instantly transport you back to Sunday dinners at grandma’s house. Owned by the Esposito family the restaurant serves traditional Sicilian and Italian cuisine and is currently celebrating its 27th year in business.

Marc Sherry, co-owner of Old Homestead Steakhouse located in the Borgata hotel, often orders their Veal Milano. “They have the absolute best Bolognese sauce in the world,” he said.

The restaurant is located in between the boardwalk and the row of more upscale hotels (Caesars, Harrahs and The Borgata) in what is essentially a residential neighborhood. The only way you will recognize this delicious restaurant is the tiny, brass plaque on the exterior of the house that simply reads, “Chef Volas.” The actual restaurant is located in the basement of the three-story house.

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The restaurant seats about 60 patrons and has a very simple and homey décor. The dining room, as it is in a basement, has low ceilings, so tall people beware. The atmosphere is fun, loud and casual.

Garlic & gingerThe first thing you’ll notice is the delicious garlic smell that permeates the entire restaurant—it is a sign of the homemade, gourmet delicacies that are soon to come.

Portions are huge, so make sure to either share (note that it’s $15 for an “extra plate”) or prepare to have leftovers for a couple of days. Order the veal chop or the veal Parmesan, which is butterflied and covered with sauce.

Anything with seafood on it will also be fantastic, as it is fresh from the shore – recommended is the linguine with clams. For an appetizer get the crab cakes, which also generously sized, and end with the ricotta cheesecake or banana cream pie for dessert.

The meal will take some time to come out, but just pretend you’re in Italy. Owners or family members are always around, giving the restaurant a very different feel from most chains or even upscale dining locales. The restaurant is reservation only, cash only and BYOB. 111 S. Albion Pl, 609-345-2022.

Need to get to Atlantic City? Take the train: Atlantic City Express (ACES)

White House Sub Shop

The queue might wrap around the block for up to 45 minutes, but a sub at White House is worth the wait.

Since chefs often have to eat at odd hours, several recommend this popular sandwich shop, including Geoffrey Zakarian who doesn’t mind waiting to get one. “People line up around the block just to get one of their sandwiches, it’s amazing,” said Zakarian. “But [the sandwiches] are just that good.”

a sandwich, not from White HouseThe restaurant has been open since 1946 and is noticeable by the giant neon sign reading White House Home of Submarines paired with a giant, fully stuffed sub—appropriately representing what is just inside the doors.

The bread is Italian loaves delivered fresh multiple times daily from Formica Brothers Italian Bakery. The bread has no sugar or fat and is made from all natural ingredients. These sandwich makers use it as the canvas for their creative culinary art.

Really any sub will tickle your taste buds. The White House special is basically an Italian sub, filed with Genoa salami, ham, capicola, cheese, lettuce, bits of sweet pepper and olive oil. The cheese steak is made with fresh Provolone cheese instead of the Philly standard, Cheese Whiz. The chicken Parmesan sub is perfectly grilled, not fried, and covered with sauce. Lastly, the tuna salad in the tuna sub is not made with mayonnaise! It seems to be made with oil, which lets the tuna shine instead of being doused in white goop.

The full subs are enormous—almost 2 feet long—but they do also come in half sizes.

Subs range between $7 and $15. Credit cards are not accepted and the only drinks they have come from a soda fountain.

By Courtney Crowder for

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