Steve Martorano, the brawny Fort Lauderdale restaurateur/cook (Martorano, by the way, does not like to be called a chef), is on a roll.
During a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, which included Johnny Depp and Rebecca Romijn, Martorano announced a second location in Las Vegas at the Paris Hotel. He has a restaurant at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, but this will be his first foray directly on the Vegas strip.
This restaurant levels the playing field between Las Vegas and South Florida. Frankly, Short Order was worried we were losing the chef to the siren song of neon, celebrities, and fast money. Then we remembered South Beach has all of these things plus something Vegas could never have -- a real beach (not some manmade simu-beach riddled with live tigers and cocktail waitresses dressed as gladiators).
We spoke with Martorano and found out that the man's love for South Florida runs deeper than any winning streak at a Vegas blackjack table.
Asked about the new restaurant at the Paris, Martorano didn't have too many details. "I still have to meet with the architect. But, of course, this is going to be Martorano's, so we'll have to have music and a good vibe."
Martorano, who is in Los Angeles for a few weeks, said that although he's expanding his empire with a probable location in Atlantic City and dreams of restaurants in New York City, there's a special place in his heart for South Florida. "Café Martorano is where it all started for me. This is my home. I'll never forget that."
Asked about the buzz that he's looking to expand to Miami Beach, Martorano said, "You know, I've been eyeing this one space. I looked at it three times already. I think that means something."
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Although the tattooed toque wouldn't say exactly where that secret (and seemingly enchanted) location is, it's most likely in South Beach. "I have a lot of guests at Café Martorano who are in the music industry. They're sports figures. They come up to see me. But I think it's time for me to have a place on South Beach. Not just for them. Honestly? I think South Beach needs a really good Italian-American restaurant."
Martorano said that when he returns to South Florida, one of the first things he'll do is take a fourth look at that space. We hope that final look will turn into a signed lease.