Vibrant Italian-American food is already a strength of New Jersey’s dining scene. But a new experience on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk promises to take it even further.
Get ready for Superfrico at The Hook and its “Italian-American psychedelic” cuisine. The Hook, an entertainment enclave created by Spiegelworld, opens in Caesars on June 30 in the 1929-vintage Warner’s Embassy Theatre space, its glorious Art Deco entrance intact.
Superfrico’s dining room is the province of culinary director and chef Anna Altieri, who aims to lead diners on “trippy meals”—which range from a “tingly” cacio e pepe to a “sexy” tiramisu.
Below, Altieri chats about her passion for amped-up Italian food and Atlantic City.
“Psychedelic” is a pretty powerful word. Why does the team think Superfrico will intrigue Atlantic City visitors?
Altieri: People have always come to Atlantic City for thrills and chills—to step into a surreal world, à la Vegas, but with Jersey Shore energy and spirit. No one wants a boring meal in Atlantic City.
At The Hook, our number one goal is to maximize the grown-up fun factor. Along with Superfrico, The Hook offers lounges, daters’ nooks, a mixology bar and dive bar, a DJ, and acts by magicians, acrobats and showgirls, plus a ticketed nightly show. With its festive party vibe, The Hook is one-stop shopping for an unforgettable evening. And that’s what AC is about.
How is the menu different from the Italian food Jerseyans know?
Altieri: At first glance, you’ll see your favorite dishes. But here they’re dramatically flavor-forward, with unexpected touches on the palate and in the presentation. I promise that your Superfrico meal will be unique, and that we’ll be all over TikTok and Instagram.
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Can you give us a little menu tour?
Altieri: Here are some hot picks from what I call “our unruly menu.” You can start with Dot’s Meatballs. Dot’s my grandma. At 92, she’s still making them. Their flavors are incredibly vibrant, and they’re served atop crisp iceberg lettuce. The texture contrast is just wild.
Get the fried mozzarella too—as in deep-fried. The pasta with crab gravy is something people cook at home in AC, but you couldn’t find it in a restaurant until now. It’s really unusual but totally works.
Tingly cacio e pepe is the creamy classic, sort of a Roman mac and cheese, but with Chinese peppercorns that light up your tongue. Chicken Parm is a roller coaster for your tastebuds: The chicken breast is smooth, the breading tangy, and the marinara one spicy little devil. It’s topped with our house-made mozzarella, which we’re really proud of.
The mozz is its own course—served from a cart by our own “mozzarellista” with intense sauces and creatively topped focaccia.
I’m guessing your desserts are decadent?
Altieri: [Laughs.] Oh, yes—bring your secret dessert fetish to Superfrico. Our sexy tiramisu teases you with a crazy crunchy topping, meringue and, of course, deep, dark chocolate. Mexican hot chocolate budino pudding is a mischievous take on classic AC custard, but with dark chocolate, chile and cinnamon.
How did you get to be a mind-bending chef?
Altieri: My family, from metro Philly, has always spent summers in AC. Its excitement, and Italian flavors, run through my veins. I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and my mentor is Anthony Falco. He founded the instantly famous hipster pizzeria, Roberta’s, in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and was a big part of Spiegelworld’s original Superfrico in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Now I’m bringing my own tastes and tricks to Superfrico AC. My approach is this: Italian food is so great; let’s intensify that beloved marinara and pump up the flavors. Come and check out the buzz.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.