Celebrity Chefs, Blue Waters, and Tony Danza
Atlantis Paradise Island celebrates its 25th anniversary with new restaurants and a blowout celebration
A quarter of a century ago, a pair of giant pink towers rose from tiny Paradise Island. Named after the mythical lost underworld city, Atlantis brought a bit of Las Vegas flash to the Bahamas with its water park, gaming, and plentiful dining choices.
25 years later, Atlantis is more than a casino resort in a tropical setting: it’s home to some of the best names in culinary talents. Both José André and Nobu Matsuhisa have been represented by restaurants on property. They’re now joined by Alon Shaya and Michael White, who both recently opened eateries at Atlantis.
The property recently hosted a dual celebration of both Atlantis’ Silver Jubilee and the opening of Michael White’s restaurant, Paranza. The soiree was filled with an array of A-list celebrities including Katie Couric, Marcia Gay Harden, Cynthia Rowley, and Adrien Brody. But, the celebrity sighting that got the cameras out was for none other than Tony Danza (more on how Danza charmed the crowd later).
Paranza, located at Atlantis’ chic Cove area, offers coastal Italian, something White has perfected over the years at New York’s Marea and beyond. White takes cues from the Bahamas’ warm tradewinds and crystal blue waters by offering a bounty of seafood items at Paranza including a good crudo selection including scungilli and amberjack. Local strawberry grouper is also a menu feature.
In an earlier chat with White, the chef said that the Bahamian waters inspired the menu at Paranza. “The conch here is just amazing. We’re talking about Mr. Brown, the fisherman harvesting them just that day. I asked him if there was ever a conch shortage and he told me, “Chef, there are thousands on the ocean floor”. There are also sea urchins and strawberry grouper. Fishermen spear them in the morning and I get a bucket of them in the afternoon. They’re so fresh, I let them hang for a day. The scungilli (conch) has made it into the crudo section, and we have a spicy linguini with grouper on the menu.” The pasta at White’s restaurant is perfection including tagliatelle with wild mushroom ragu, parmigiano, and rosemary oil that is sublime.
Alon Shaya’s new restaurant, Silan, is located inside the resort’s casino and is a welcome respite from the constant sensor overload of the slots and games. A mezze platter for two, consisting of pita bread, hummus tahini, bulgarian pepper spread, babaganoush, pickled vegetables, hazelnut muhammarra, labneh with herbs, and marinated olives might just be the only nosh you need after a day exploring the beach or an afternoon at the blackjack table — but whatever you do, don’t forget Shaya’s roasted cauliflower — the feta fondue it comes with is nothing short of heavenly.
The 25th anniversary celebration was topped off with the Bal de Royale gala featuring a champagne toast and a performance by Jazz singer and pianist Peter Cincotti and special guest Tony Danza who charmed the entire island with his ukelele skills and vocal stylings. Two new restaurants accompanied by one of television’s most beloved actors surrounded by some of the bluest waters on the planet? A good weekend, indeed.