Steve Martorano is coming home. The celebrity chef opened the long-awaited Martorano’s Prime inside Rivers Casino Philadelphia last week.
Before Martorano became a celebrity chef, he was and always will be a Philadelphian. Martorano grew up in South Philadelphia and sold sandwiches out of his row home. Now a legendary chef, Martorano is bringing home some of his most popular dishes to the PA casino.
It’s been a long time coming for Martorano to return to Philly. He’s also teaming up with his wife, Marsha, in the process.
Rivers Casino Philadelphia officially opens Martorano’s Prime
Rivers Casino Philadelphia announced during a ribbon-cutting ceremony the grand opening for Martorano’s Prime. The restaurant officially opened on July 27.
“It feels like I hit the lottery for $10 billion and I don’t have to pay taxes. Think about that,” Martorano told PlayPennsylvania on opening an establishment in his home city.
After 11 years with a restaurant at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, Martorano felt it was time to come home. Patrons visiting Martorano’s Prime at Rivers Casino Philadelphia are in for some tasty changes from the Atlantic City location.
“Really, we just added steaks to the menu,” Martorano said. “It’s an Italian steakhouse. I love steakhouses, but they’re boring. I wanted to do something different, so we brought our meatballs, pasta, seafood and steaks. It’s a unique atmosphere with a nightclub effect.”
Martorano’s Prime is not your typical restaurant. Music and Italian classics such as The Godfather II, Goodfellas, Big Night and Moonstruck are played on TVs throughout the restaurant.
“It’s an experience,” Martorano said. “You just don’t eat and leave. You eat, stay, dance and have fun.”
This is Martorano’s second location at a Rivers property. He opened his first restaurant in Pennsylvania at Rivers Casino Pittsburgh in 2021. Martorano’s Prime in Pittsburgh won the “2022 Best New Restaurant” award by Casino Player magazine.
Martorano selling Sicilian pizza at Pennsylvania casinos
In addition to the restaurant, Martorano has experimented with pizza and has added a new arm to his business.
Back in May, Rivers Casino Philadelphia started selling Martorano’s Sicilian Slice to patrons. Served by the slice, the Sicilian-style pizza features San Marzano tomato sauce and premium homemade mozzarella cheese. The pizza is topped with Calabria oregano and fresh basil, all drizzled with Frantoia extra-virgin olive oil. The slices include a sprinkle of pecorino Romano cheese.
Martorano even admitted to liking a thin-crust style of pizza. But since most pizzerias are known for a thin crust, Martorano wanted to be different.
“I had a dough that was light and airy,” Martorano explained. “Everybody is opening pizzerias doing the same thing. No one has really opened a Sicilian slice before. I started selling it in Florida as an appetizer and not promoting it.”
Martorano didn’t want the pizza to take on a life of its own, because, as Martorano said, he’s not in the pizza business. However, that changed when Barstool President, Dave Portnoy, ate at Martorano’s Ft. Lauderdale restaurant and scored the pizza an 8.8.
Martorano was initially upset at Portnoy’s review. But once he understood how rare an 8.8 is, he ultimately accepted the rating. He said:
“Rivers Casino tasted our pizza and they fell in love with it. They gave me my first Sicilian Slice here.”
Rivers Philadelphia partners with Martorano’s Lilly Cake business
Rivers Casino Philadelphia got a second Martorano for the price of one. Steve’s wife, Marsha Daley-Martorano, is also opening a grab-and-go dessert stand inside the casino.
Daley-Martorano specializes in Lilly Cakes, serving up red velvet, cookies and cream, triple chocolate and brown-butter Heath bar cakes, along with banana cream pie.
Daley-Martorano’s desserts are available in the restaurant, as well.
Martorano’s Prime menu items and restaurant hours
Martorano’s Prime has Steve’s staples available at his new Rivers Casino Philadelphia location. Some include:
- Linguine and clams
- Spaghetti carbonara
- His famous meatballs with Sunday gravy
- Martorano salad
- Spicy penne vodka
- Veal chop parmesan
- Filet Sinatra
- Lobster francaise
The restaurant is open on the following schedule:
- Thursday: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Friday: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Saturday: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Martorano said he has plenty of friends and family that still live in the area who are ecstatic he opened a restaurant so close to home. He also said Rivers Casino Philadelphia is likely his last restaurant, however, he wants to expand in the pizza business.