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An Interview with the Real Sammy D!

Sammy DChef Sam DeMarco, better known as Sammy D, is a restaurant veteran. He’s been working for over 30 years and has become a leader in modern and casual American cuisine. While his restaurants in New York have been around for many years, his Atlantic City spot, Sammy D’s, is coming up on its one year anniversary. We chatted with Sammy about this exciting milestone, his favorite foods, and his culinary legacy.  

B.R. Guest:

You’re approaching your one-year anniversary in Atlantic City. What brought you to AC in the first place?

Sammy D:

I was excited to get back on the East Coast. After living in New York my entire life I had a 3-years hiatus from the area. Also my partnership with Steve Hanson – someone I have always admired in the industry – and the fact that it was a cool coffee shop. It’s an honor to join the Harrah’s family.

 

BRG:

What makes your Atlantic City restaurant different than your other restaurants?

SD:

Breakfast! And the fact that Harrah’s guests frequent the restaurant so often that it has a country club feeling and not just a restaurant feeling. Guests – a lot of the time Atlantic City regulars – and the staff have all been around for 10 plus years. And the young ones will keep coming back!

 

BRG:

Are there any changes that you’re making to the restaurant or menu after one year of business?

SD:

Yes we are always evolving our menu; that’s what makes my job cool. I like to ensure that our Harrah’s guests are HAPPY.

Sammy D's

 

BRG:

What are you doing to celebrate year one?

SD:

Continue the love…we had a small gathering of the staff to recognize their year of hard work, and we are just getting back to normal after Hurricane Sandy.

 

BRG:

How would you describe your cuisine to someone who’s never dined at Sammy D’s?

SD:

It’s all the usual suspects of what you are looking for: a good bar scene, and great bar food (check our Sammy’s Social Hour). The hidden gems are the people-watching at night and a slammin’ breakfast in the morning. Not to mention the oversized cakes are awesome, made in house by Chef Debbie Pellegrino.

 

 

BRG:

What’s your favorite dish on the menu?

SD:

It’s hard to pick just one. Mama D’s Meatballs. I’m Italian and a sucker for a meatball!

 

BRG:

When you’re not eating at Sammy D’s, where are you eating?

SD:

If I’m in the building, I’m at Dos Caminos, with their awesome Margaritas, and “guac” to order. Or I’ll be at Luke’s, where the martinis flow and I have the comfort of feeling at home. Luke is an old pal of mine.

 

BRG:

Where does your inspiration come for your casual cuisine?

SD:

I like using good local flavors ingredients with great ethnic flair. Sammy D’s menu is made with all nostalgic flavors and my secret ingredient: LOVE. I’m always inspired by my 3 girls – my wife Ellen, Dakota my 6 year old and Delilah the newest little D, who was born when Sammy D’s was born – at home too. At 48 years young, I think this old dog still has some new tricks.

 

BRG:

How did you know you were destined to be in the restaurant scene?

SD:

I had 3 great grandparents and grew up around food. Call it brainwashed by food! But somehow I really enjoy the hospitality business and putting out a product that people can boast and brag a little bit about. Not only the food but the experience!

 

BRG:

Do you have any other culinary projects in the works?

SD:

I’m very close to hitting the tube. To be announced. I just shot the first episode in LA, and looking to open a restaurant in LA in 2013 (this year!). Most recently, Rattlecan opened in the Venetian, it’s a rock ‘n’ roll burger concept. The aesthetics there are wild, both visually and on the palette!

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