The Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa of Atlantic City offers a huge variety of foods and restaurants. In the past few months, 2 of the Borgata’s have shown great strengths and a few drawbacks. Bobby Flay’s Steak along with the Fornelletto Cucina are both fine dining establishments but there are vast differences in decor, food and atmosphere. At the Borgata, there is a restaurant for every taste and every mood. There are two that are stand outs but of very different reasons.

First, Bobby Flay’s feels more quick paced. It is a New York kind of vibe. The restaurant is beautiful with the wood beams in the ceiling and the artistic direction of the wood throughout the rest of the restaurant. The drawback of the Flay’s is that feeling of being too close and too crowded. On two occasions the noise level was a bit much. The seating a bit too close. On both occasions we shared our conversations with the couples on either side of us. There is no room for a private moment. Seating is so close that it is difficult to pass by without bumping into another diner.

The food though, at Bobby Flay’s is good. On two occasions with parties of 4 and then a party of 2 so the menu was thoroughly tested. Our server for the both evenings, Frank Cucuzza and he is superb. He provided great depth in his knowledge in the description of our dishes. When there was one problem at the first seating, he remedied the situation quickly and was for better words, top notch. Starters include clams on the shell, kale and romaine Caesar salad, Shrimp Cocktail and many others including the choice of a lobster cake which was good but didn’t reach the level that one would expect at such a fine restaurant.

The main courses chosen over the 2 different visits included Rack of Pork, a bone in Ribeye, shrimp scampi served with polenta, porterhouse lamb chops, Philadelphia style strip steak and a Hangar steak. Sides included sweet potato gratin, (to die for), onion rings, Brussel sprouts with cranberries and fries. The steaks were all equally good. The aged beef and just the right seasonings made the steaks undeniably very good. What was surprise is the rack of pork which beat out all of the steaks for flavor. The rack of pork was served beautifully and easily could have been spilt between two. According to the menu the pork is served with bourbon sauce, green chile apple butter, wild mushroom mashed. The bourbon glaze in a word, perfection. The pork was, in a sports euphemism, a homerun. The sides were good but lacking. For instance we had to send the fries back as they were not crispy or warm. They seemed to have been left out under a heat lamp like a McDonald’s fry would be after 5 minutes. That is when Frank our server stepped in removing the item from the ticket and the house did offer a free desert to make up for the problematic fry. Bobby Flay’s was good not great. Our server made the experience even better though.

On the flip side stands the Fornelletto Cucina. If Bobby Flay’s is New York, Fornelletto is Rome. It is a romantic, quieter and the level of light so perfect for two although still very enjoyable by larger parties. Again on two occasions the Fornelletto was visited with first a party of four and then a party of two. The feeling of rush that was felt at Flay’s nowhere to be found at this gem of restaurant. Set up as a wine cellar which is actually is, it is charming and once again the restaurant had a server who made the experience even better. The Fornelletto offers both hot and cold starters including one of the best calamari dishes to be served anywhere. The Calameretti Fritti is served with dried olives, pine nuts, and aioli. This is what calamari should taste like all the time. Perfect! Another starter that should not be missed is the Arancini Al Ragu which is Sicilian rice balls, veal and prosciutto, ragu, and peas. Unbelievably good, no not good, great.

The dinners that were chosen over the two different occasions included chicken Parmesan, veal Parmesan, scallops, Sicilian lamb, veal Milanese, and seafood spaghetti. When given the chance to go to Fornelletto don’t deny yourself the seafood spaghetti. It is a treasure of seafood, shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, San Marzano tomatoes and served with a dash of olive oil. Amazing elaborate, complex and yet there is an ease in the meal. Served with a wonderful bread there isn’t anything better. For the two Parmesan dinners, the chicken Parmesan actually was the tastier of the two. Both are good but go for the chicken. Much better. The noise at the Fornelletto is undeniably so much quieter than Flay’s. The lighting, the atmosphere is exact opposite of the experience at Bobby Flay’s. Our server for both evening was a gentleman who identified himself as Z. Z was what a great server should be, helpful, informative and personable. For those who want a faster pace, and aren’t looking for an intimate dining experience Bobby Flay’s is good. If you are looking for the intimate dining atmosphere, with low lighting and a much quieter experience, you have to go to Fornelletto. Fornelletto was the favorite for sure.