Portofino exec chef to open Bluetop in Chamblee

Portofino executive chef Matt Marcus has left his post at the fine-dining Buckhead restaurant to start his own venture. Marcus, along with business partner Andy Lasky, will open Bluetop, a fast-casual restaurant that serves up American fare at 5362 Peachtree Road, next to ZenTea, in Chamblee. The restaurant has a target opening date of August 1.

Bluetop, whose name pays homage to the taxi cab company that formerly resided in the space, will offer what Marcus describes as “Americana fast casual.” Open for lunch and dinner, options at the restaurant will include the likes of a Maine lobster corn dog and a couple renditions of a sloppy Joe – one using Border Springs lamb, another of confit chicken sourced from Springer Mountain Farms. An oyster program – bi-valves raw and grilled – is also in the works.

Marcus will be an early adapter of the new KUDU grill, a versatile grilling system inspired by the South African grilling method known as braai. The meat for those sloppy Joes and the oysters will all see KUDU time, as will a dish of skewered octopus glazed with barrel-fermented house buffalo sauce.

All menu items will be priced at less than $14 with the exception of the $39 Summer Supper Series. Marcus describes the latter as an “elevated meat and three” that is served family-style and feeds a table of four.

In his career, Marcus has worked at numerous fine dining establishments. Besides Portofino, where he clocked in since 2014, the Atlanta native has spent time at Chops, JCT Kitchen, Woodfire Grill and Cibo e Beve. Culinary stints have also taken him outside Georgia, to such places as the Country Club of Jackson in Mississippi and to steakhouse Hennen’s Restaurant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

With Bluetop, Marcus is stepping away from certain aspects of fine dining. “We are going to take the pretension out of it,” he said, but noted that patrons can still expect the “integrity and technique” of a high-end restaurant.

Marcus has tapped Los Angeles bartender Jonathan L. Joy to run the beverage program at Bluetop. Among offerings, the full-service bar will have a selection of “meat locker” cocktails that feature stirred drinks whose glass is rinsed with meat fats, and with Marcus’s own bone broths getting poured into some of them. The bar will also have frozen drink machines and offer a house-made alcoholic version of the flash frozen snack Dippin’ Dots.

While Marcus and Lasky have retained the original Bluetop taxi building, they are adding to it the container portion of a 1960s 18-wheel big rig. Other design features include reclaimed wood from Chamblee. “We’re trying to use as much of the community scraps as possible and repurpose what we can,” Marcus said.

The 160-seat eatery will offer indoor dining, as well as picnic tables on grass next to a bocce and a cornhole court.

“We want to be family friendly,” said Marcus. “And we want to grow Chamblee into its own little mecca.”

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About the Author

Ligaya Figueras
Ligaya Figueras
Ligaya Figueras joined the AJC as its food and dining editor in 2015.