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29 years after launching his flagship Cafe Martorano in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, celebrity cook and Philadelphia native Steve Martorano is returning home to launch a new high-end steakhouse dubbed Martorano’s Prime – slated to open this December – in the Rivers Casino space formerly occupied by Hugo’s Frog Bar and Chop House.
Speaking to What Now Philadelphia by phone from Palermo, Italy, Martorano says his new venture will be an “Italian American steakhouse with all the flavors of Philly – all the food I grew up with,” adding, “Every year I would go home, visit family, take my wife Marsha to all the places I grew up at. So we’re excited about coming home.”
It’s important to note that Martorano and Marsha aren’t returning to Philadelphia for good, as rumors of the pair leaving Fort Lauderdale and closing Café Martorano have begun to swirl, according to Martorano.
Nevertheless, the pair will be in town quite regularly, overseeing the new steakhouse and developing a nascent fast-casual restaurant known as Joey’s Italian Kitchen by Martorano’s. Likewise, in addition to serving as COO of Martorano Restaurant Group, Marsha also runs her own bakery, Lilly Cakes, which the couple is hoping to establish in a brick-and-mortar location in the city.
According to an interview with the Philadelphia Business Journal published earlier this week, “The new restaurant at Rivers will mark the first time Martorano will dish out food in his hometown since selling deli sandwiches out of his mother’s basement on 28th and McKean streets 43 years ago.”
“No matter what success has come in my life, a guy like me who has nothing – not a chef, just a neighborhood cook – to be able to come back to my roots, it’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Martorano said.