The idea of a marinated steak is nothing new. Throw some soy sauce and garlic in a tupperware container, plop your steak in there, and a few hours later you’ve completely transformed the flavor, texture and character of your beef.
Lots of small, usually budget-friendly, run-of-the-mill restaurants that serve steaks will do this to punch up the quality and flavor of their beef. But a true steakhouse, it is often believed, won’t fuck with a quality cut of steak. Just salt and pepper is all you need.
Yet some of the best places in NYC are offering “flavored” steaks. And you will almost always see something like a coffee rubbed filet on a steakhouse menu from time to time. But let this be your guide to some of the good ones out there.
Probably the most commonly seen flavored steak is the “Cajun” steak. Typically this involves some onion, garlic, black pepper and often times something potent like cumin, paprika or cayenne pepper. These spices, when combined, can really make a steak pop and excite the taste buds.
My favorite Cajun steak is at Greenwich Steakhouse. This one comes with a little pool of oils and spiced sauce on the bottom, which I like to drag my steak though for extra pop. They’ll even throw the flavoring onto other cuts if you’d like, but the rib eyes are marinated in the stuff, so I think they might have a bit more deeply penetrating flavors.
For something less “wet” when served, go to Tuscany Steakhouse. This one is only on their lunch menu, but if you ask nice they might hook it up. Especially if you tell them I sent you. It’s excellent.
Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse also does a really nice job on their Cajun rib eye, which is a happy middle ground between Greenwich and Tuscany in terms of preparation and presentation; a little of the oil on the bottom, but still mostly a dry presentation. The great thing about this one is that the dry-aged flavor still comes though nicely.
Smith & Wollensky is thought to be the originator of the Cajun rib eye up here in NYC. In fact, Chef Victor at Greenwich Steakhouse is the one who developed the recipe at Smith & Wollensky before he struck out on his own (Greenwich Steakhouse). Greenwich is much better, in my opinion, but the two are very similar in overall style.
Harry’s offers a Cajun rib eye too, but it tastes completely different from the others up above, which all tend to have the same flavor profile. Harry’s is more earthy and peppery than the exotic spice flavors on the above cuts. Still great, just entirely different.
Another great flavored steak is the chili-rubbed rib eye. You can occasionally find this at Delmonico’s if they’re doing a tribute menu, but the man they pay homage to is Chef LoMonaco of Porter House Bar & Grill. He became well known for creating this spicy and delicious flavored rib eye.
If you’re like me, when it comes to spice, you prefer something aggressive like chili. But not so harsh that is fucks up your entire palate for the rest of the meal. I happen to love Szechuan peppercorn; that numbing heat with a slight burn. There’s just something about it.
I even tried to make a steak with those flavors a while back. But my attempt paled in comparison to the Szechuan tomahawk rib eye from The Lobster Club. This thing is aggressive, for sure, and richly flavorful. It’s tingly, it’s spicy, and it’s perfectly cooked. And when you go, bring the oily sauce home and fry up some leftover white rice with it, and top it with a fried egg or two. You won’t be disappointed.
Another big success is the pastrami rib eye from American Cut.
This baby packs a ton of flavor, so I’d probably split this as an appetizer and then focus on something more traditional as a main course. That peppery pastrami crust is absolutely bonkers, but I prefer it in small doses.
There are lots of others out there that I didn’t try yet, like the chili wagyu sirloin at Char House, or the whiskey dry-aged rib eye and lavender-rubbed porterhouse at The Beatrice Inn. I may need to win the lottery first though to afford those. I’ve heard great things, but I think the whiskey steak starts at about $1000. At least it feeds three people.
Last week the owner of Tuscany Steakhouse invited me in to take some photos and try out the food. This place used to be called Nino’s Tuscany Steakhouse, but just before the new year they did a big remodel and upgraded the place big time.
I was excited to try it, hoping that they made some improvements. I didn’t have the greatest meal at Nino’s, but this new joint was a much different experience. Check it out:
We ordered the porterhouse for two.
Let’s take a peek at the inside…
Oh fuck yes… nice and pink. Let me spread her open a little bit.
Okay… so this thing was perfectly cooked to medium rare. It had a gorgeous, crispy, well-seasoned crust on the edges. This is one of the better porterhouses I’ve had recently. 9/10.
I came back for a second visit and tried the rib eye.
This was cooked perfectly, just like the porterhouse.
It just needed a bit more seasoning and it wasn’t as potent in terms of the dry aged flavor on this particular cut. 7/10, but increased to an 8/10 on average after several visits.
The porterhouse was still incredible though. Perfect.
The filet mignon was also excellent. 9/10. Thick, tall, like a mountain of meat.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
While they only offer the basic four steakhouse cuts – filet, strip, porterhouse and rib eye – they do a bang-up job on them, and they dry age everything in house. My porterhouse was aged for 29 days, and it came from Masters up in the Bronx next to my facility.
A couple next to me ordered the strip and it looked and smelled amazing. This place gets the job done nicely.
After several visits, one thing that really strikes me is how consistent they are. Every time I go, I get excellent quality, flavorful cuts. That is rare to find.
Portion Size & Plating: 9
Portions are big here. The sides are definitely large enough to share with two to four people, especially if you’re going heavy on steaks. Plating is basic for the steaks and sides, but the apps can get a bit more flare to them.
The prices are very fair here. The steaks come in slightly cheaper than average for the location. Some of the pasta dishes seemed high, but the one I tried was worth it, and the sides and desserts are all great bargains, especially when you factor in the quality of the food for the price.
This is a nice little bar, and it was getting a good crowd on a Saturday as we were leaving. Same set up as the old restaurant bar, but nicer and remodeled.
I snagged a few of the potato chips that they serve at the bar. I like that touch.
They mix up a great martini too.
There’s also a great selection of wines here, and a little wine room in the back.
We tried some muscat with our dessert and it was just right. Not too sweet, not too potent.
Specials and Other Meats: 10
There were no special meats offered up, but there were specials of the day like soups. As for other meats, they had lamb, veal two ways and chicken two ways. Not a bad showing at all. In fact, I saw a veal parm come out after finishing the porterhouse, and I was so tempted to order one to go. It looked amazing.
Here it is:
Absolutely incredible. An easy 10/10. I would eat this every day if I could. It’s really surprisingly light, and super flavorful. The beef was so tender inside, and the crispy crust was the perfect contrast to the soft melted cheese.
Oh, so cheese isn’t your thing? How about the broiled veal chop, then? It’s a veal porterhouse, and it comes with grilled greens. This is amazing, and you definitely don’t see this cut very often in steakhouses, or anywhere else for that matter. 10/10.
Or the veal Milanese, which is essentially just a salad on top of a fried veal chop. 8/10.
I also gave the lamb chops a try. The serving size is incredible: three thick, double-cut chops.
They really nailed the crust.
And the inside was perfectly cooked. 9/10.
The “Pollo Tuscany” is essentially chicken breast, marsala style, but with roasted red peppers and melted mozzarella on a bed of spinach.
One thing I will note here under specials is the lunch menu. That veal Milanese is just $28 at lunch, and it is the full dinner size. They also have a special cajun rib eye at lunch too. This thing is amazing.
It’s a slightly smaller portion size than the dinner menu, but still around 18oz.
And for just $30 it also comes will full sized creamed spinach and mashed potatoes sides. Incredible! 9/10. You can also get the cajun rib eye as a full entree size at dinner if you ask, even though it isn’t on the menu.
Same goes for the porterhouse.
By the way, that cajun porterhouse was the best porterhouse I’ve ever eaten! An easy 10/10.
Looking for something more refined? How about surf & turf? Massive 16oz lobster tail and a 10oz filet mignon. Easy 10/10!
This was two slabs of thick cut Canadian bacon (we cut them each in half).
Te second trip the bacon came out a little more burnt on the edges, but still really delicious.
This shit was amazing. Easily on par with places like Angus Club and Maxwell’s Chophouse. This is a must order when you come here, and it goes very nice with their steak sauce (a tomato-based and horseradish-heavy sauce – also good with seafood).
Next was the tuna tartare. This was delightful.
It came with lightly salted avocado slices, lime slices, cucumber slices, toasted bread slices and a slice of tomato, along with some unsliced arugula. It was bright and fresh, and dressed perfectly.
I am tempted to get that every single time I eat here. But you have to explore. For example the salads are even pretty good, like this chef’s salad that comes with sliced shrimp and bacon.
We also tried an order of oysters. Just a half dozen, to see how the quality was.
They were excellent: Perfectly shucked with no bits of shell in them. Great size – not too big, not too small. Crisp, clean, briny, and fresh. Here they are, all dressed up and ready to get raped by my mouth:
For our sides, we ordered sautéed spinach and hash browns. Both were great, and very large portions. The spinach was seasoned just right, nice and simple with salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic.
The hash browns were nice and crisp on the outside, while still tender and soft inside. I loved these.
Fries are perfect.
The Clams Oreganata were excellent as well.
Lumb crab meat is a generous portion size:
Crab cake was really nice and classically prepared, Maryland style.
The lobster cocktail was flavorful and generously sized.
I didn’t get a shot of it, but the creamed spinach here is the “creamless” style that I love.
The calamari had a nice batter and were perfectly cooked.
Here’s a special they had: burrata with portobello and roasted red peppers:
For dessert, we had a slice of tiramisu and a piece of chocolate mousse cake. Both were excellent, and I really loved their shlag.
Here’s their apple strudel – HUGE!
Seafood Selection: 9
There’s sea bass, tuna, salmon, lobster and shrimp in the entree portion of the menu. That’s a fantastic showing, and I bet they do a great job since this is essentially an Italian joint, and Italian joints are known for having good fish. While I only tried the apps and a bowl of lobster bisque, I am confident that this section of the menu is well above average.
Their seafood linguini was incredible. It was jam packed with perfectly cooked shrimp, clams, calamari and even a half lobster.
Upon multiple visits now, I can confirm that the seafood is excellent. I tried the grilled tuna and the grilled salmon. I would definitely get both of them again, and the portion size is great.
The waiters are awesome here, and the management is super nice and engaging. They all know their stuff and can answer any questions you have, whether it’s the basics of the steak cuts or the specifics of aging. They’re even great with super old bottles of wine with delicate corks.
The table bread consisted of onion rolls and some sliced Italian bread, served with butter. This stuff is also great with their steak sauce.
This place made a great turnaround in ambiance. I loved the brick walls in there last time, and the overall cozy feel to the place. Now, with white-washed brick walls and deep, elegant wood finishes, this place feels more like what it is – a really nice steakhouse.
It still has some nooks and crannies in the dining room where you can get a more private feel, which I really like, and there’s even a separate room where you can host a party or larger group. They’ve really done a great job in here.
No bull: this place is really nice, and I’m glad it’s only a block away.
BURGER UPDATE! Awesome burger here. Well seasoned, juicy, tender, nicely ground and packed, excellent cheese coverage, great fresh sesame seed bun. I only wish it has a little bit of dry aged flavor, and it would be a rival to Lugers.
PRIME RIB UPDATE!!!
On Wednesdays, this joint is now offering massive 26-28oz slabs of prime rib for $70. The cut is a la carte, but comes with some nice jus or gravy type sauce poured over the top. They only offer about seven or eight portions each Wednesday, so make sure you get there early to secure yours!
117 W 58th St
New York, NY 10019