Last night the sweetie and I were in Atlantic City to catch Depeche Mode at Revel’s Ovation Hall (excellent concert, btw, but I’ll be reviewing it elsewhere!). We took “the backroads” to avoid the Labor Day shore traffic, and to enjoy a leisurely dinner first. The only Revel restaurant I’d been able to get us reservations at for the evening was Lugo Cucina E Vino, which I knew very little about. Still, the menu looked promising and certainly up sweetie’s alley given the promise of housemade mozzarella and fresh pasta dishes. Overall I thought it was a very nice meal with some surprisingly good food! I would be happy to go back there again, especially before a show at Ovation Hall. Last time we were at the Revel we tried The Mussel Bar, which we both also enjoyed quite a bit. So that’s two for two at Revel for us.
Lugo Cucina E Vino is a large, quite open space with an overwhelming color scheme of white, black and red. Large photos of Italy decorate the walls and while the atmosphere didn’t exactly transport me back to Italy, it was comfortable and pleasant enough – my main complaint was the loud noise from the nearby casino floor. We were offered bottled or tap water along with the fairly compact dinner menu and lengthier wine list. The wine selection is suitably heavy on Italian selections and, nicely, offered some decent bottles in the upper $30s to $50 range. We went with a Vernaccia di San Gimignano, usually always one of my favorite whites and something light to enjoy before the show.
For appetizers we ordered the Lugo Housemade Mozzarella Platter (Hand-pulled mozzarella, cured meats, cerignola olives) and the Fritto Misto (Fried calamari, shrimp, zucchini, garlic lemon aioli, marinara). While we were waiting we enjoyed their fresh hot bread with rosemary-scented olive oil. The Mozzarella Platter was very generous and would have easily been enough to share for two – if sweetie hadn’t skipped lunch and been quite hungry. The mozzarella was nicely paired with a selection of cured meats, tasty olives and pickled vegetables as well. I really enjoyed their Fritto Misto as it was very much prepared as I’ve typically enjoyed it in Italy: lightly fried and not greasy at all, with the zucchini adding a nice balance to the fried seafood. Both were definitely winning dishes.
I chose the Lobster Mezzaluna (Lobster-zucchini ravioli, corn & lobster sauce) for my main course. The first bite absolutely evoked the flavors of South Jersey in the summertime, with the fresh corn, tomato, zucchini and sweet shellfish flavor. My one quibble is that it could have used perhaps a touch more salt, as it seemed ever so slightly under-seasoned after the strong flavors of our first courses.
In contrast my sweetie’s Baked Maltagliati Alla Bolognese was out of this world and I definitely stole more than my share of bites, as full as I already was getting by this point in the meal. It had a true Northern Italian flavor from the bolognese and bechemel sauce and I loved how it was served in its own individual cast iron skillet. I think I need to get myself some of those miniature skillets and try to make this dish at home myself!
I can’t say that we needed dessert, but it’s hard to resist a light panna cotta with blueberry sauce and lemon cookies. Not only was it a pretty sight but it was a perfect light ending to such a rich meal.
With the food and wine above plus two double espressos with dessert, our total was $160 before tip. For a full meal and a bottle of wine in Atlantic City, that didn’t seem too outrageous to me – especially when later that evening I ended up winning $80 at the slot machines! I’ve seen other reviews online complaining about service issues at Lugo, but we experienced no problems whatsoever. We actually arrived early for our reservation and were seated promptly at 7pm. Without feeling rushed or as if we were waiting excessively long for any dishes or had any trouble with the wait service, we were done and headed to the concert by 8:30pm.
All in all I would definitely return to Lugo Cucina E Vino to try more of their offerings and recommend it to anyone looking for solid, if perhaps not revolutionary or out-of-this-world Italian food. The flavors were solid and the freshness of the ingredients notable.