Meet the Culinary Director of Superfrico at THE HOOK Anna Altieri

Spiegelworld speaks to Anna Altieri, Executive Culinary Director for Superfrico, the restaurant inside THE HOOK, the brand new Spiegelworld venue and show opening at Caesars Atlantic City in June 2023.

Hi Anna, it’s so nice to see you. Why don’t we start with your journey up until this point?

I’ve been all over the place. I grew up just outside of Philadelphia, really close to Atlantic City. My grandparents spent summers there so I spent a lot of time visiting.

I grew up on a vegetable farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and my first job was working as a little vegetable salesman and had a little pie company. I’ve wanted to attend culinary school for as long as I can remember. So I just did, right out of high school. There wasn’t too much deliberation; I just did it.

I went to the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York, about an hour north of the city. From there, I worked at several restaurants in New York City and learned a lot.

I eventually fell into consulting with chef Anthony Falco. When I was working with him on opening Spiegelworld’s new Superfrico restaurant in Las Vegas, they asked me if I wanted a full-time gig. And, of course, I accepted. What a dream!

How would you describe Superfrico’s vibe?

Superfrico has always been something that I wanted to create in a restaurant; a place where anybody can go and feel good about their decision. It’s not only the fun and playful vibe, the food is also conscientiously sourced and pretty much a hundred percent scratch-made.

It’s a place that you can go to all the time, which will be fun for Atlantic City because we have a more significant opportunity to tap into the local scene. To give people access to pop in and out more often than our Las Vegas location. So the menu, for me, is very ingredient-forward.

We always partner with well-respected and trustworthy local farms and for Superfrico Las Vegas, we source our ingredients from farms all over the West Coast. And in Atlantic City, we will focus on Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, and Maryland farms to gain access to incredible, locally sourced fish and produce.

Our menu is inspired by my childhood and my grandmother. I grew up in a very South Philly Italian-family-dinner situation where we would do things like the seven fishes on Christmas and Sunday gravy. It’s all very nostalgic, warm, and family-oriented food.

I’m figuring out how to grasp that essence and put it in a restaurant. Which can be challenging in a fine dining restaurant. In mom-and-pop shops with 20 seats it can feel intimate, but we’re working to scale that up so you can have incredible entertainment, house party music, and food that feels like you’re getting a big hug.

What is your personal favorite dish on the menu in Superfrico Las Vegas?

Great question. The menu has changed a lot, and I’m headed back there on Sunday, so I’m excited to have a new answer by then. But as of right now, the Chicken Parm is such a tried-and-true hit. It’s so incredible. It’s the best and most unique version you can get at any restaurant, which is fun. It’s still the Chicken Parm you know and love, but just better in so many ways.

I also love our Tomahawk, and I’m not like a huge beef girl, but there’s something about the Snake River Tomahawk. The way we age the beef, it’s just like, Mmm! Scrumptious.

What inspired you to be a chef? Is there a specific moment that you knew this was your calling?

So many people ask me this, and I always think about, was there an aha moment? I was obsessed with Anthony Bourdain and always watched his show, but there wasn’t a light bulb moment, you know? Even throughout high school and middle school, when I had my birthdays, I’d have everybody come over, and I would cook for them.

I’ve always loved the feeling of being able to feed and bring people together. It’s a reason for people to gather, which I’ve always loved. It’s like the revolving door aspect of food: people come in and are hungry.

I grew up on a big farm with many people always involved and around. So we were always the house where people could stop in, say hello, grab a bite to eat, and be on their way. And I’ve always really liked how community-oriented it felt.

So obviously we’re very excited to launch Superfrico in Atlantic City. What is the inspiration behind the Atlantic City menu?

The Spiegelworld team and I were in Italy last year gathering inspiration for the Atlantic City menu, and we went to the Amalfi Coast and Positano and places like that. So that’s where most of my recipe development inspiration comes: super fresh bright colors, and lots of lemon and citrus. Feel-good food you want to eat while sitting next to the ocean. The fun thing about Superfrico is that every iteration will be the same but very different. So they’ll have a similar personality, you know, as if they’re best friends who share their favorite pair of pants and accessories, but they have their own identities when it comes down to it.

Atlantic City is inspired by the Atlantic Ocean, which is incredible. We have a lot of really unbelievable shellfish farming operations around AC. The idea is to reinvent how people look at the beach in Atlantic City and have food that makes you want to sit by the boardwalk and look at the ocean, maybe jump in, which people don’t do anymore. It’s a shame because it’s a beautiful beach.

Will any Las Vegas menu items be available at Superfrico in Atlantic City?

Yes, so there are a couple of different heavy hitters that will be in all of the Superfricos; the Chicken Parm; our Tiramisu; and the Tomahawk that will come from another farm but have the same wet aging preparation; and, most importantly, our signature square pizzas, which are made with naturally fermented high-quality sourdough bread. The fermentation process is a lot longer than other pizza doughs. It’s the difference between a quick pickle in vinegar versus fermented kimchi. The fermented kimchi has all the good gut bacteria, and nutritional density is still involved in the final product.

The feeling of getting hit by a bus after eating a bunch of pizza slices while drinking is removed from the equation with our pizza. So it’s exciting, and don’t quote me on this, but I believe Atlantic City has no other sourdough or naturally fermented pizzas.

We’ve put a lot of time and thought into the research behind the dough recipe, and it doesn’t get talked about enough.