Adam Sobel and Michael Mina Take Cal Mare to MGM Springfield
Food & Wine has learned that Cal Mare will be part of MGM Springfield, a $960 million casino-resort in Western Massachusetts scheduled to open during the third quarter of 2018.
New England “has an abundance of amazing seafood,” says Sobel, who’s excited to evoke the Amalfi Coast while cooking with East Coast ingredients. “It’s really the epicenter of fishing in the United States. It makes sense for us to do a fish restaurant there.”
Cal Mare will be part of an MGM Springfield dining lineup that also includes The Chandler Steakhouse, helmed by Hell’s Kitchen winner Meghan Gill; South End Market, with a variety of quick-service dining options; and TAP Sports Bar, a venue with a bowling alley, arcade and beer garden.
Unlike what you’ll find at Las Vegas resorts, every part of the dining collection will have street access. So guests can pop by for a meal without having to stroll through the casino.
“MGM Springfield is about local community and playing a role in the renaissance of downtown Springfield,” says Anthony Caratozzolo, MGM Springfield’s vice president of food and beverage. “We’re trying to create a whole walkable district in the downtown area.”
Here’s a first look at what guests will be eating and drinking at MGM Springfield, located about 90 miles from Boston:
Lobster and sea urchin from Maine. Nantucket scallops. Atlantic bluefin tuna. Sobel and Mina are going to have a lot of stunning East Coast seafood to work with at this 170-seat restaurant. Like in L.A., Cal Mare’s MGM Springfield outpost will merge local ingredients and coastal Italian cooking.
“A restaurant like this, with a chef like Adam who’s so in command of what he’s doing, it’s always going to be the same in the sense of the style,” Mina says. "But the product, the seafood you can get, is what makes it unique to the area. The style of food is Adam’s food. That will be consistent. This is Adam’s baby.”
MIna likens it to how his restaurant group partnered with chef Ken Tominaga to open modern izakaya Pabu in San Francisco and then in Boston. The vision and flavors of Pabu are driven by Tominaga, but being on the East Coast means access to different local seafood.
“Had we not done Pabu in Boston, I don’t know if we would have the same excitement about opening Cal Mare here,” Mina says.”
Like in L.A., MGM Springfield’s Cal Mare will offer chilled seafood, fresh pastas, local vegetables and a daily fish list. There will be an open kitchen with a pizza oven. There will, of course, be beautiful displays of seafood and tableside presentations of fish. The wine list will focus on coastal Italian selections. There will be a wide variety of amari.
“In Western Massachusetts, there’s a large Italian population,” Caratozzolo says. “Typically in the region, there’s a lot of the red sauce, Italian-American restaurants. We knew we wanted to give them something different. We wanted them to feel like they were back in Italy where they grew up.”
The Chandler Steakhouse
This restaurant is located in the former Union House hotel, which dates back to the mid-1800s and later became the Chandler hotel.
So the steakhouse, Caratozzolo says, is about simultaneously “paying homage” to the past while offering a modern dining experience that includes meticulously sourced local ingredients.
Chef Gill, who won season 14 of Hell’s Kitchen, will get meat and seafood from New England suppliers while also offering Midwestern Angus beef and imported wagyu. Prosciutto, coppa and salami will come from a Boston charcuterie maker. All of the produce served at The Chandler will be sourced from within 50 miles of the resort.
“We’re working with local farms to diversify their growing,” Caratozzolo says. “We’re working with co-ops.”
South End Market
“We will really feature everything that’s about New England, not just Western Massachusetts but the whole region,” Caratozzolo says.
So South End Market, located off Main Street, will include Jack’s Lobster Shack, a quick-service spot with both Connecticut and Maine lobster rolls as well as fried seafood like whole-belly clams.
The rest of South End Market will be comprised of Bill’s Diner, with pancakes, red velvet waffles and blue-plate specials like meatloaf; Wicked Noodles, with pan-Asian noodles, fried rice and dishes like General Tso’s chicken and kung pao shrimp; Hearth Grill, a pay-by-the-pound setup with salads, tri-tip, rotisserie chicken and flatbreads; the Wine & Cheese bar with cured meats from the charcuterie maker that supplies The Chandler Steakhouse; and Gelato & Espresso for your dessert and caffeine cravings.
“South End Market can be for your everyday lunches or meals on the go,” Caratozzolo says.
TAP Sports Bar
This will be the spot for pounding burgers, Reuben sandwiches and wings while sweating fantasy scores and pondering Tom Brady’s eventual retirement as you watch all the games on the 32-screen video wall. The beer garden will feature “vast beer varietals” including, of course, many on-draft selections made by local brewers. A ten-lane bowling alley and an “old-school” arcade will help keep guests entertained.