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NYC’s Top 10 “Old School” Style Italian Joints

A friend of mine asked me about Emilio’s Ballato the other day, and I realized I should probably have a list of “old school” style, red sauce -heavy, Italian comfort food spots in the city. Especially given how we lost some great ones due to COVID-19, like Forlini and Crispo.

I should note, I’m largely ignoring the panoply of mediocre tourist trap restaurants in Little Italy. Yes, there are some old classics there, but the one’s listed below are in another league, in my opinion.

So here we go. These are my favorites, in no particular order.

1. EMILIO’S BALLATO

This celebrity magnet of a restaurant is one of the best spots to score some old school, red sauce, New York Italian food. Aside from their awesome pastas, they also put serious work into their parms and antipasti. Pictured below is the spicy vodka sauce, prosciutto and peas -topped bone-in veal parm, which is commonly offered as a special and even called an “off menu” item to those in the know.

2. CARBONE

A list of old school Italian joints wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Carbone. When you walk in this joint, you feel like you might witness a mob hit! Not in a scary way – because you feel like family when you’re here (take THAT Olive Garden!) – but in a cinematic way. Everything just looks the part, from the black and white tiled floors to the decor on the walls. This place is special, and my favorite items here are the trio of baked clams and their famous spicy rigatoni alla vodka.

3. SANDRO’S

We almost lost this joint to COVID-19. It closed, and everyone was pissed off and upset. But they re-opened in a new location, and I’m so psyched to get back in there to try everything. This joint slings some of the best pasta I’ve had, and all of the good the Italian chefs in town know that this is the place to go when you want a delicious, comforting meal outside of your own kitchen.

4. SAN MATTEO

Right up there in the same neighborhood as Sandro’s is San Matteo, a noted two-time NYCWFF Burger Bash winner, of all things. While primarily organized as a Neapolitan style pizza joint, San Matteo actually serves up some of the most crave-worthy Italian food that I can think of. I regularly need my fix of this place. Everything from their apps to their aged steaks are fantastic. Pizza should be your snack when you go here. Save room for the mains, like their pork milanese!

5. BROOKLYN ROOTS

Relative newcomer to the “old school” scene is Brooklyn Roots. This place is the only spot I picked that’s outside of Manhattan. I know I’ll get some shit for that, since there are lots of amazing places out in Queens and Brooklyn that garner a lot of love for this cuisine. But Chef Tommy is really dialed into the food that I grew up eating. Check out his “Matty Guns” pasta dish. It’s basically a baked red sauce and mozz rigatoni dish that has every kind of meat you can imagine. Incredible portion sizes and wildly affordable prices can be found here. You can’t beat it.

6. ARTHUR & SONS

Another new “old school” style joint is Arthur & Sons. This place is red sauce to the core, and it has quickly become one of the hardest places to score a table. Everything with red in it is a hit here. The Parms, the meatballs, the subs, the pasta sauce… They even use cans of tomatoes as planters in the dining room. This is definitely the place to carb-load before a big competitive sporting event.

7. DON ANGIE

This joint is the only Italian restaurant to actually inspire me to go home and cook one of their recipes. Their “Broken Meatball Ragu” is absolute perfection, and it reminds me of Sunday visits to my grandparents’ house when I was a kid. I immediately went home and made it myself the following weekend. They use giant garganelli pasta for the dish, the perfect big floppy noodle for sopping up massive amounts of sauce. Also noteworthy here is the chrysanthemum salad and the lasagna, pictured below.

8. OSTERIA MORINI

This place was famously known as the home of $9 Monday night pasta dishes. I’m sure the price has gone up since I enjoyed that special, but it would be worth every penny even at double the price. This place is part of the Altamarea restaurant group (Marea, Ai Fiore, etc.), but it is markedly obvious that it is meant to be their rustic, home cooking style restaurant. They do great burgers and aged steaks here as well.

9. IL CORSO

My friend turned me on to this place just recently. I was blown away to learn that his wife’s cousin owns the joint. They’re from Capri. Let me just tell you: Their lemon cream pistachio paccheri is probably one of the best pasta dishes in town. It’s an absolutely delicious combination of flavors. I could eat this every day, with a side of their fried zucchini and fried castelvetrano olives.

10. IL TINELLO

The owners behind Tuscany Steakhouse also own Il Tinello, which recently just opened a second location on the east side. The move here is to get the trio of pastas as a sampler dish, of sorts. We ordered it as an appetizer because I needed to try some of the meat-focused items from the mains menu. They do a really nice veal rib chop here, if you feel like eating something more meaty.

That’s all I’ve got for you right now. Maybe I’ll update this if I ever get out to those old and somewhat infamous joints in Queens and Brooklyn. But other notable mentions here for old school style Italian food would be Isle of Capri, Becco, Patsy’s, Scarpetta, Marc Forgione, Ornella Trattoria and Parm.

Oh yeah – and it’s always SAUCE. Gravy is BROWN!

Hall’s Chophouse

Hall’s Chophouse overall score: 90

I finally got down to Charleston, SC, and, of course, a top priority was to check out Hall’s Chophouse. I went down to visit a law school friend with some other guys from law school, so we went big here!

Also: quick caveat – I think the score for this place would climb with multiple visits. I’d need to get back and try more meats and some seafood, but I can see this place getting in the 95-point range.

Flavor: 9

We tried three cuts: the porterhouse, the tomahawk, and the prime rib. All were excellent, but I think the prime rib took the victory.

The prime rib was a 10/10. It’s wet aged, but rubbed with a Montreal seasoning that really added a ton of flavor.

Both the tomahawk and porterhouse are dry-aged a minimum of 45 days after two weeks of wet aging. These packed a lot of funk, both 9/10.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

There’s a great selection of dry-aged beef from Allen Brothers in Chicago. Everything is aged off site, first wet-aged and then dry-aged for 45-days (except for the prime rib – that’s just wet-aged). All prime, and all delicious.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

The meat board plating was really nice for our massive order of three steaks. Portion size is definitely on the large side, especially for sides, apps and desserts.

Price: 8

Don’t expect a cheaper bill just because you’re outside of the NYC insanity! Beef prices have gone up lately, and top notch quality like Allen Brothers being shipped from Chicago to Charleston means you’ll be paying a premium. That said, I thought the prices were all kinda fair, with the exception of the martinis at $26ea.

Bar: 9

The bar here a great spot to hang out. My buddy is there all the time, and I would be too.

My martini was great (blue cheese olives) despite being pricey.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There were some specials off the menu that all sounded delightful. They have quail and duck for non-beef meat items. One stand out was the bison filet, which you can see here in this short video at the beginning (the very dark colored lean cut, top right). We didn’t try it, but I’m sure it was good.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

We started with the bacon; really nice. The tomato on top was a nice twist on this.

The tartare was slightly over worked but it was still really delicious. The table was impressed!

We split a burger for our appetizer, which was really delicious. It reminded me of Peter Luger and Red Hook Tavern – a distinct dry aged flavor that eats more like a steak than a burger. It’s definitely a top five steakhouse style burger for me.

The sautéed spinach was a nice light side.

Loaded mashed potatoes – of course.

These fried okra were a fun change up for side dishes as well.

For dessert we tried the skillet cookie, the lemon cheesecake, and the whisky bread pudding. All were awesome, but the bread pudding was my favorite.

 Seafood Selection: 8

I gotta be honest – I didn’t even bother looking at the selections. But the she crab soup that we tried in between courses was fantastic. If you have room, get it!

Service: 10

Service was amazing here. You really can’t beat it. The staff knew everything there was to know about the meat when I pried them, too. Our waiter even asked if we’d prefer a chuck side or loin side cut of prime rib, which I don’t think I have ever experienced before. I was impressed (and of course I went with chuck side).

Table bread was warm and toasty, with a great whipped butter. You know I always have to mention it!

Ambiance: 10

Great spot. There is live music in the main bar room, which is more lively and loud, while the side rooms and upstairs are a bit more private and cozy.

While walking around, I saw Walter Goggins and Danny McBride having a meal, so I sent them a bottle of wine and had the pleasure of chatting with them for a bit. If you don’t know the names, they are the headliners for great shows like Eastbound and Down, Justified and The Righteous Gemstones.

Oh yeah – nice little Michters bottle in the bathroom filled with mouth wash.

This place is the real deal, and if you plucked it out of SC and dropped it into NYC, it would still be a wild success and I’d rank it among the heavy hitting stars here, easily. I can’t wait to go back.

HALL’S CHOPHOUSE
434 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

Fini Pizza

If you’d rather WATCH this review, check out my ride and review video. If you’d rather read it, then continue below.

That bike makes the city so small. I can get everywhere so fast now. If you’re interested in one for yourself, use my coupon code JOHNNYPRIME for $150 off at www.zoozbikes.com.

I tried two slices here, pepperoni and Sicilian.

The regular pepperoni slice was good. Great crust. The sauce was a little sweet so I was happy to have the pepperoni on there to balance it out with some spice.

The Sicilian was incredible. I highly recommend this. It has a homemade flavor to it, but with pro-quality amazing dough. Light. Airy. Crisp. PERFECT.

I’m usually not a fan of Sicilian because it can get heavy. But I can easily eat a bunch of slices of Fini’s Sicilian. Look at this:

I’ll definitely be back to try some more pies.

FINI PIZZA
305 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Maple & Ash

Maple & Ash overall score: 81

Maple & Ash came recommended by a friend. First thing I saw when I looked at the menu online was an order called “I don’t give a fuck.” For $200 a head, they give you what they want. I thought that was funny, so I was sold on trying this place out.

Flavor: 7

We had the aged porterhouse, called “The Eisenhower.” I didn’t really get much aged flavor from it, and the thing was basically swimming in juices (likely cut too soon after cooking), but it was in fact tasty and tender. It was cooked slightly over in some parts, and slightly under in others.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

There’s a lot to choose from here, including, again, items from Japan and various parts of the country.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

The portions here are big, on everything from the steaks to the sides and sweets. They go a little extra here on plating – beyond the usual white plate elegance. The marrow served with the steak is nice; kinda reminded me of stuffed clams (breadcrumbs mixed in).

Price: 6

Another Chicago slam job on the price. I don’t think NYC has gotten there yet. A steak for two here was $225, over $100 a head. That’s insanity!

Bar: 8

The bar(s) here are a little too small for the size and type of crowd that this joint attracts (bros and hoes). They mixed a decent martini though, and the bars were nicely appointed.

Specials and Other Meats: 10

There were no specials read to us, but I didn’t expect much from a place with such an extensive menu. We did try their veal chop as an appetizer. This was much better than the porterhouse for two.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

The broccolini was in fact broccoli rabe. Let down. It was also mushy and chopped up into oblivion.

The coconut cream pie was excellent, and the size and shape of the slice was a sight to behold.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s a lot of seafood on the menu, but we only tried the octopus appetizer. It was okay, but a slight bit snappy and chewy in texture.

Service: 9

Service was very good. Nice waiter, and they seemed to know their meats very well.

Ambiance: 8

I really can’t decide if I want to give this place a 10, or something like a 6, so I’m splitting the difference. I like the idea of a gothic looking steakhouse. They have these wild candlesticks all over the place. The rooms are dark and dim, but loud as fuck from a young crowd. It’s kind of a strange juxtaposition. And then they also have modern touches throughout, which kind of clashes with the gothic stuff. Interesting, to say the least. Since the place is multi-level, at times it seems cramped and small. But they did make the best use of their space.

MAPLE & ASH
8 W Maple St
Chicago, IL 60610

RPM Steak

RPM Steak overall score: 81

For our second steakhouse visit on our second Chicago visit, we hit RPM Steak. I had heard great things about this place, so it was time to try it out.

Flavor: 7

We had the aged strip steak. It was pretty average. The crust was a little lacking, but peppery at least. The aged flavor was mild.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

There’s a massive selection of cuts here, including many from Japan as well as both aged and fresh items. There’s even some cross breed/domestic wagyu items to try.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

The plating for the apps was nice, but the steak plating was average. My steak came with a cherry pepper and a spring or parsley for some reason. I arranged the slices like this to make it look nicer.

The portion sizes were okay, but a little on the pricey end for single order steaks.

Price: 6

Another $100 steak for one, this time even smaller at around 18oz. Woof. I know prices are going up, but this is getting nuts!

Bar: 9

The bar here is really nice, with great signature cocktails. I would have much rather eaten here than at the tables. There’s also a hidden shoe above the lights. Some fashion designer or model hid a shoe or article of clothing in each of the RPM restaurants, or something. My wife saw it up there so we asked the bartender what was up. You can just about see the red heel peeking out on top of one of the light fixtures here (top left):

Specials and Other Meats: 9

There was a domestic wagyu prime rib special here when we ate, which I should have gotten instead of the strip. Or in addition. Oh well. And there are several other items of non-beef variety to choose from, including lamb and chicken.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

Oysters. Hamachi. Hen of the woods mushrooms. All fairly good. We skipped dessert, as this was our second steakhouse meal of the night.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s lots of “sea steak” on the menu here, but we didn’t get to try it. Given the quality of the apps, I would say that seafood is a good choice here.

Service: 9

Service was excellent. Not sure why, but we arrived 15 minutes early to a mostly empty restaurant and they didn’t seat us until 15 minutes after our reservation time. I took a point for that.

Ambiance: 7

I know they went all out here in terms of modern fanciness, but it just felt too corporate. Coming here just a couple of hours after seeing Bavette’s, we were a little let down.

RPM STEAK
66 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654

Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf

Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf overall score: 90*

This steak joint meets speakeasy is easily my favorite place to get a steak in Chicago. The joint is run by the same folks behind 4 Charles Prime Rib, so you know it’s going to be good.

Flavor: 10

We had the rib eye. This is exactly the same as the rib eye from 4 Charles (when they offer the grilled version as a special). Get it. I love it so much, but honestly I wish I had gotten the strip steak just to try something different. Oh well. Next time. The reservation here is much easier than 4 Charles.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

There’s a good selection of dry-aged and prime cuts here, but it isn’t the same depth and breadth as a traditional steakhouse. No knock here, just giving you the details to let you know that the menu here is more streamlined than most restaurants within the steakhouse category. The good thing is that every steak they cook here is perfect.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

The rib eye was 20oz on the bone. It felt a little small, but It was the kind of thing where you find yourself gnawing on the bone afterwards. Plating is basic, but elegant.

Price: 7

Not terrible, since we didn’t go too crazy, but a hundo for a steak that’s really meant for one is a little high.

Bar: 10

The bar here is incredible. It’s modeled after a speakeasy type decor, so dim lighting, old timey items, and dark woods are what to expect.

Killer cocktails as well.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

There was a porterhouse offered up as a special. Very tempting. A few other meat items were available, but nothing stand-out.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10

We started with a steak tartare, which was easily one of the best we’ve had.

We also had a half portion of the crab and avocado salad, which was quite large and very refreshing. Worth getting.

The ice cream they brought out on the house for my birthday was perfection.  It was a deliciously creamy pair of vanilla scoops with some chocolate sauce on the side.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s standard steakhouse seafood fare here. We only tried the crab in salad form, but that was excellent.

Service: 10

Service was the best here of any place we went to in Chicago so far. Top notch! As I mentioned earlier, they even brought out a free dessert for my birthday, despite us insisting that we were full.

Sourdough table bread! Incredible. Careful not to fill up!

Ambiance: 10

Easiest 10 I’ve ever given for ambiance. This place is decked out in the best of ways. I highly recommend coming here if you’re in the Chicago area, even if it’s just for a drink. This place exudes style.

BAVETTE’S BAR & BOEUF
218 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654

Vinyl Steakhouse

Vinyl Steakhouse overall score: 84

I was recently invited into Vinyl Steakhouse for a complimentary meal in exchange for posting some photos on my Instagram account. But as you know, I like to keep it real in my reviews here, for all you meat maniacs. Let’s get into it.

Flavor: 9

My wife and I shared both the boneless 16oz wet-aged cajun rib eye, as well as the dry-aged porterhouse for two. Both really hit the mark for flavor. I only took a point away because the porterhouse was cooked a slight bit beyond medium rare.

As you can see, this was mainly isolated to the grey banding, but, honestly, I don’t think it took much away from the over all experience (9/10).

The rib eye was pretty much cooked perfectly. The cajun flavor was light/mild, but I think it was the right move to use a fresh cut rather than an aged cut for this, as the flavors may have wanted to compete a bit. Perhaps a marinade would pump up the flavors a little more (8/10).

Also worth noting here, the steak sauce it blessed with white truffle, so you’ll definitely want to try it. This is one of the only steak sauces that I actually used at a steakhouse. It was incredible!

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

There’s a great selection of both aged and fresh steaks, as well as bone in and boneless steaks, and steaks for one or two. The beef hails from Greentree Packing Company, and the chef, Alex, told us that their dry aging room is adorned with planks of cedar wood and salt blocks, which are said to impart flavor and create a nice environment for aging beef. I definitely tasted some of that dry aged flavor on the porterhouse, so the tricks they’re doing worked.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

I dig the plating here. They scrapped the traditional steakhouse style of all white, plain looking plates, and went with a little bit more style that’s unique and fitting to their vibe. A ring of gold, patterns, grooves. Very vinyl/wax. As for portion size, the apps and sides were nice sizes for sure. A hulking 6-8oz crab cake; enough beef carpaccio to satisfy a light appetite; two turnovers on the dessert plate. It works. The single portion steaks are a little on the small side (8, 10, 14 and 16 ounces), however, I think this was done to keep the prices from being jaw-dropping. The US has seen a massive bump in beef prices, so I appreciate the effort at keeping steaks to a comfortable size for the price.

Price: 8

A 16oz fresh cajun rib eye (no bone) comes in at $59, and the steaks for two (porterhouse or rib eye) are $139, aged, at 36-38oz. I think this is really fair, especially given the quality.

Bar: 8

The bar here is nestled midway into the restaurant, past the host and turntable area, and just before the intimate yet social dining room. Without window space, the bar area is dim, but there are some seats along the front window near the record player that would be fun for cocktails. In fact, that’s where we ate, because the light was perfect there.

The cocktail menu is awesome.

We tried four of the signatures, each one better than the last. I highly recommend the “Magickal Childe,” named after the Wiccan store owner that used the space before them (pictured above).

Specials and Other Meats: 6

They have some chicken on the menu, but nothing else by way of red meat flesh other than beef. I appreciate the beef-forward menu big time, so don’t let the lower score here fool you.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

We started with a crab cake. This was awesome. The roasted corn really made it pop.

We also tried the beef carpaccio. The slight age on this, as well as those dots of spicy horseradish mustard, took it to the next level. This is one of the best I’ve had in a while.

On the side, we tried the marrow corn, which was really nice and carved right off the cob, served in a husk.

For dessert, we tried the cherry turnovers, a la mode with vanilla ice cream. I liked these; not too sweet. The more discerning Cake Dealer thought the dough was a bit thick in parts, and slightly undercooked.

Seafood Selection: 7

There’s scallops and salmon here by way of entree selections from the sea, but we didn’t try them. We did enjoyed the crab cake though, as noted above.

Service: 10

The staff here is awesome. Everyone is excited about the menu, from the drinks all the way to the desserts. Very friendly, even when it comes to music disagreements! That’s right: you may hear the in-house audiophiles debating music as they swap out records to play. They even asked our opinion, which I thought was pretty cool.

Table bread is excellent, by way of Balthazar. Pictured here is sourdough and baguette, but they also offer focaccia (all on the house with creamy, whipped honey butter).

Ambiance: 10

These guys really made great use of the space, and, in doing so, created a very unique dining experience based off of the GM’s passion for, and background in, the music industry (he was a producer and record label owner). The front DJ area takes you back to the old days when the living room, basement, or bedroom, was lined with book shelves containing LOTS OF WAX.

They generally like to play whole album A and/or B sides right through, just as many of the artists intended (these days, you’re lucky to get two good songs on an album, let alone a great concept album that you actually want to play start to finish).

We pretty much finished every last bite of food here, despite ordering like animals. So i’ll definitely be back here for more, and soon. Give this place a shot!

VINYL STEAKHOUSE
35 W 19th St
New York, NY 10011

Brooklyn Chop House (Times Square)

The new Times Square location of Brooklyn Chop House delivers everything you know and love about the downtown location. As such, this review is really just a piggyback on that with the same scoring, showing the new stuff I tried below.

Nice crisp martini from the smallish (for the location) but well appointed bar.

Great seafood “pac man” dumplings.

Dough was a little too thick on these philly cheese dumplings:

Perfet “crispy” filet.

Whatever this new crispy preparation is on the menu – I like it. 9/10.

Bacon a little underwhelming for the price point, but tasty.

Nice aged rib eye on the bone. 8/10. Definitely some steak improvement over the one downtown.

The sizzling plates will literally splatter all over the table, so watch your clothing!

Lobster fried rice was low on both lobster and fry. More like a steamed rice. A bit mushy.

Ultra rich “double height” chocolate cake, served on it’s side.

This was a comped meal in exchange for some posting on social media, but this is what the bill would have been. Pricey steaks!

TOTAL SCORE 81/100

BROOKLYN CHOP HOUSE
253 W 47th St
New York, NY 10036

& Son: The “Steakeasy” in Back of Mel’s Burger Bar

I recently discovered this steak speakeasy in the back of Mel’s Burger Bar:

This joint is incredible. I love the warm, dim ambiance. Very old school, and reminiscent of Donohue’s.

I’m a little biased since Golden Packing supplies this place with their proteins, but I was absolutely blown away by the burger.

This is a prime 8oz patty made from the ends of striploins; a steak burger, if you will, served up in the style of an elevated and colossal Big Mac. Best burger I’ve had in a long time.

They offer a la carte menu pricing, but the way to go here is with the set menu full dinners. In the set menu, you either get a steak ($49), burger ($33), or chicken ($39), along with a side, a salad and a dessert. Great deal!

When you go, you definitely need to get this carbonara mac and cheese as your side:

The steak they’re offering right now is a grilled sirloin, and soon they will be adding this prime strip steak to the menu (likely for a little bit more money):

It’s a stunner. We sampled it, and it was delicious – an easy 9/10. I’m just pushing for a larger cut. This sample was 12oz. I think 16oz would be better for this place, and maybe aged.

& SON
1450 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10021

Hawksmoor

The high-end English steakhouse chain Hawksmoor has finally landed here in NYC. I’ve been looking forward to trying this place since I heard the rumors of its opening, pre-covid. It recently opened its doors, and I was able to try it out before the holidays (after which I’m assuming NYC will go into lockdown mode again over this new Omicron variant).

Anyway here’s the review – that’s why you’re here:

Hawksmoor overall score: 88

My wife and I came here for a quick meal before catching a flight to Spain. She had a credit for something like $56 so that covered the steak.

Flavor: 9

As far as steaks are concerned, we only tried a 40oz aged rib steak that they had as a special for the night. It was great, although a little bit under seasoned. In fact, a few items throughout the meal needed salt, but otherwise excellent. The steak had a great cook temp and a nice charred crust with good aged flavor throughout.

On a second visit I had the steak frites, which they offer for lunch.

This cut is aged rump (sirloin), and I’d say it’s around 5oz. It’s a bit tougher than most steaks, so cut it thin and in small pieces when you eat it.

That’s perfect for a lunch sized portion. It comes with deliciously crisp fries and absolutely amazing roasted bone marrow with caramelized onions. 8/10.

We also split a cheeseburger as an app, which I thought was great. I typically don’t like brioche buns for a burger, but this one help up nicely. The meat was cooked perfectly.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

There’s a good selection of cuts here, both boneless and bone-in, staple cuts and irregular cuts (like rump), prime and aged. But they may need to beef up their availability, because by 7pm they only had two 30oz porterhouse steaks left on a Thursday. I know it’s the busy season, but this shouldn’t happen at a steakhouse. I had to take a point for that.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portion sizes ranged from 10-40oz, and nicely plated on Staub cast iron pans. Other dishes were sufficiently fun, yet elegant, without being stuffy, which matched the whole ambiance of the place.

Price: 7

The pricing here is definitely on the high end when you compare it to other steakhouses in NYC (especially the ones that are part of larger chain ownerships). On the flip side, Hawksmoor touts a “natural beef” program, so that niche market of steaks is expected to come with a price tag premium.

Bar: 10

The bar is a great place to sit and eat (which is what we did), and they offer some inventive house cocktails in addition to an impressive selection of bottles behind the bar. One negative: the martinis are small, but at $12 for Beefeater 24 it’s a more than fair price. Michter’s 10 year is $28, and the 20 year is $118 (we had some of that deliciousness).

Corn & Corn & Oil

Specials and Other Meats: 8

I would definitely come back to try the veal, but I was a little bit surprised at the lack of pork and lamb options on the menu of this English chop house. Other than beef, they only offered a chicken dish by way of alternative meats. Nonetheless, the 40oz rib steak that was on special was awesome, and I can respect a steakhouse that’s LASER focused on beef.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

We tried a bunch of stuff, and all of it was great. The aged rump steak tartare with pickled shiitake mushrooms was unique and had a mild sweetness to it, along with a gorgeous orange egg yolk.

I really loved the bone marrow roasted oysters. Top notch, and a must order!

The potted beef was good but needed a little bit of salt. Awesome onion marmalade and Yorkshire to go with it.

I would pass on the triple fried “chips.” They had a good crisp on them, but overall they lacked personality and seasoning (though they were much better on a second visit).

That little red bottle is actually the surprisingly good tomato-based steak sauce. Give it a shot!

The desserts that we tried were both masterpieces. When you go here, make sure you get either the Meyer Lemon Bomb or the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Wow!

Sour cherry cheesecake – awesome!

The tribute bites, however, while beautiful and tasty: I would pass on those next time.

Seafood Selection: 7

The oysters were awesome, but we didn’t try either of the seafood mains that they offered on the menu (lobster and halibut). Maybe next time, but likely not. Again; only two offerings, but I respect the focus on beef here.

On the lunch menu they offer a whole baked sea bream. This is pretty good – nice and light. A little oil and white wine, that’s all. And a fennel salad.

Service: 10

Our bartender was incredibly knowledgeable about both the food and drinks, and she made excellent suggestions when we asked for recommendations. Everyone in the front of the house was really nice and helpful.

Ambiance: 10

Both the bar room and the main dining room here are beautiful. Elegant, steakhousey, bustling, fun, and energetic. And good music, too, not too loud.

Here’s something from the dining room that was very apropos – seems like both are being diminished lately.

 

I can’t wait to go back and try more of the menu.

HAWKSMOOR
109 E 22nd St
New York, NY 10010