In September, I reported Martorano’s Prime would be coming to the Rivers Casino in Philadelphia, taking the space where Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House was. Now they have shared renderings.
Steve Martorano, “the most famous cook that nobody knows,” is coming home to Philly with the announcement that “Martorano’s Prime” is planned for Rivers Casino Philadelphia. This will be the acclaimed cook’s first restaurant in his hometown.
Known as the “Godfather of Italian-American cooking,” the South Philly native has turned home-cooked recipes into a growing portfolio of restaurants. Fans will soon enjoy his latest venture along the banks of the Delaware River with iconic views of the Ben Franklin Bridge.
Martorano’s Prime fuses the celebrity cook’s renowned Italian-American menu with high-end steakhouse staples, elevated in Martorano’s signature style. Macaroni lovers will enjoy Martorano’s favorite and always popular linguine and clams, bucatini carbonara, his famous meatball with Sunday gravy and Martorano salad, and spicy penne vodka. Traditional steakhouse fans will savor mouthwatering chops, which are first cut, while the steaks are always prime. Veal chop parmesan, filet Sinatra and lobster francaise are among the highlights. Gourmet Magazine famously called Steve Martorano’s meatballs the best meatballs in the world.
Rivers Casino Philadelphia will be the second Martorano’s Prime location after Martorano successfully debuted the Italian-American steakhouse concept at Rivers Casino Pittsburgh in 2021. Despite its mid-pandemic opening, the Western Pennsylvania restaurant immediately attracted foodies from across the region. Pittsburgh’s Martorano’s Prime was recently named “Best New Restaurant of 2022” by Casino Player Magazine.
In addition to Pittsburgh, Martorano currently operates Cafe Martorano in Ft. Lauderdale, the brand’s 30-year-plus flagship location, and Martorano’s in Atlantic City. Wife Marsha Daley-Martorano, Steve Martorano’s partner in business and in life, remains COO of the Florida location. She not only directs restaurant operations and oversees interior designs, but Marsha also is the founder of Lilly Cakes, a premium line of “All-American Desserts for All Occasions.”
The Martoranos will divide their time among their expanding East Coast operations. Design and early construction are already underway at Martorano’s Prime at Rivers Casino Philadelphia. An opening date is yet to be announced.
Anyone who understands the restaurant business knows the entrepreneurial grit needed to thrive amid challenging conditions, especially in recent years. The Martorano’s brand has always been fueled by its founder’s steadfast work ethic, ability to overcome obstacles and commitment to serve the community—literally and figuratively.
“It’s an honor to return home to Philly where it all began and to share my passion for Italian food in the city I love,” said Martorano. “Like Rocky, I’m an underdog—a hardworking cook, who’s gone from the ‘sandwich guy’ to a restaurant entrepreneur. I can’t wait for everyone to experience our Italian-American steakhouse at Rivers Casino Philly where the macaroni will always be cooked to order.”
Martorano is big on flavor and personality, and fans will instantly feel a Philly connection when they hear “Yo Cuz!” echoing from the kitchen and throughout the restaurant. Martorano’s fame has earned him recurring appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, as well as cooking demonstrations on “Good Morning America” and the “Today” show. He’s served celebrities Kevin Hart, Jamie Foxx, Shaquille O’Neal, Mario Lopez, Fat Joe and Ludacris and many more.
Although Martorano has been a culinary luminary for more than 30 years, his humble beginnings making sandwiches and selling them out of his mother’s basement in South Philly provided the foundation for his cuisine and his life. Many of Martorano’s restaurant dishes originated as family recipes, learned at the elbow of his beloved late grandmother. His two books, “Yo Cuz! My Life, My Food, My Way” and “It Ain’t Sauce, It’s Gravy,” chronicle his epic journey: Philly, Florida, casinos, food and fame.
Martorano’s Prime will be located just off the casino floor adjacent to the High Limit lounge. Guests can expect the luxe aesthetics found at Martorano’s other locations. Adding to the ambiance is another Martorano’s mainstay: high-def big-screen Hollywood movies, past and present, playing throughout the restaurant.
Martorano’s Prime will also feature a custom DJ booth that comes alive Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Steve Martorano himself spins the tunes when at the restaurant. If Martorano is cooking at another of his locations, then he personally chooses guest DJs. Music and movies are integral to the Martorano’s dining experience.
“Martorano’s Prime and Rivers Casino Philadelphia are celebrating a true Philly original,” said Justin Moore, general manager of Rivers Casino Philadelphia. “I’ve had the pleasure of eating at Steve’s restaurants in other cities, and I’m thrilled to bring that experience home exclusively to Rivers Casino in Philly.”
All entrees (16 oz. New York Prime and Martorano’s nostalgic Italian-American dishes) will be prepared with fresh ingredients and on site. The antipasti options will include handmade fresh mozzarella, homestyle cheesesteaks and stacked eggplant. Decadent desserts are courtesy of Lilly Cakes. After-dinner delights await with Marsha’s favorite red velvet, as well as flavorful cakes of triple chocolate, peach champagne and lemon blueberry, just to name a few.
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