After more than 30 years spent spreading his pioneering brand of Italian-American cuisine served in a trademark, high-energy atmosphere, world-class restaurateur and “Godfather of Italian-American Cooking” Steve Martorano and his wife and business partner Marsha are returning to where it all started, together opening a Martorano’s Prime in Philadelphia’s Rivers Casino, a counterpart to their existing Pittsburgh Rivers Casino location. Steve entered the food industry at age 26 as a one-man fresh sandwich delivery service featuring breads from Philadelphia’s famous Sarcone’s bakery. With no advertising but fliers left in mailboxes and posted on telephone poles, business began slowly, though after days of silence, a woman called and ordered a sandwich and a hoagie. Soon, Steve’s Italian Kitchen took off, operating out of the basement of his mother’s home. On a subsequent trip to visit close friend, New York Jet and South Philly native Ray Abruzzese in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Steve spotted a five-table café space for lease, and on a hunch, signed a lease and moved to Florida to enter the restaurant business. Without any formal menu, only a daily special chalkboard of Italian classics, and no real game plan but pay the bills, Café Martorano opened, with a strong Philadelphia feel and in-house soundtrack. One fateful night, Steve met his current wife and business partner Marsha as she waited in line for dinner. As their storybook relationship developed, Marsha encouraged Steve to develop a full Martorano brand, and without any restaurant industry experience, culinary education, or managerial training, the two dove in headfirst, opening a second Café Martorano in the Las Vegas casino Río, followed by a full-size restaurant named Martorano’s in Las Vegas casino Paris. A Martorano’s within Harrah’s Atlantic City Resort & Casino followed, offering a maximized version of the entertaining dining experience Café Martorano had become famous for, featuring an in-house sound and video system that rivaled those of the city’s top dance clubs. A self-taught cook like Steve, Marsha also tried her hand at baking classic cakes and confections, developing her own recipes through trial and error, an effort which produced Lily Cakes, a brand offering “All-American Desserts for All Occasions”. As Lily Cakes thrived, Marsha became COO of the newly formed Martorano’s Restaurant Group (MRG). With Martorano’s Atlantic City thriving, the two developed a vision of a new kind of top-shelf steakhouse boasting a wider menu than most, and an Italian-American menu as elite as its steaks and seafood. Together, they expanded again, opening the first Martorano’s Prime in Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino. During this project, Marsha became Director of Operations for MRG, handling all property design and specs from furniture to table settings, while also tending to guest experience and satisfaction. After 20 years spent honing MRG’s unique blend of fine dining in a high-energy, luxury atmosphere, the Martoranos are elated to bring their trademark brand of steakhouse back to where Steve’s career began, with a new Martorano’s Prime designed entirely by Marsha set to open soon in Philadelphia’s Rivers Casino. Steve calls the new Prime “A career crown jewel I could have never imagined, and an accomplishment that carries a special meaning for us as an interracial couple in the City of Brotherly Love. Ft. Lauderdale is only where we live, Philly will always be home.” Of the Martorano’s brand journey, Marsha says, “It sounds crazy, but I only went in for dinner, and now here we are. And our stories mimic themselves—I wasn’t a baker, it was just something that I love to do, and to be able to parlay that into its own business, while working with your best friend towards a common goal, it’s been amazing.” Regarding the new Martorano’s Prime, she says, “Deep down inside, Steve has always wanted to be back home in Philadelphia, and the joy I see in him coming home, it makes me extremely happy.” Although it’s time to celebrate the new location, the Martoranos aren’t ready to rest on their laurels. Led by fellow Philadelphia native John Moser’s MBB Hospitality Management group, the couple is currently developing a high-quality, fast casual Italian restaurant named Joey’s Italian Kitchen by Martorano’s (featuring a full line of Lily Cakes), and Martorano’s Pizza, set to highlight the famous Sicilian pizza served in Florida’s Café Martarano (a slice that has already earned an 8.8 from Barstool Sports pizza fanatic Dave Portnoy). For inquiries, contact John Moser at [email protected] Source: Martorano’s