Though still a young man, William Degel can trace his life story all the way back to Prohibition. In the early 1930s, his godfather owned Jack's, a Manhattan steakhouse and speakeasy frequented by movie stars and politicos. Stories of the restaurant's notoriety inspired William's own career path: he leveraged an early job as a bartender into the purchase of a rundown Queens saloon, which eventually gave him the opportunity to open Uncle Jack's Steakhouse. This fine-dining establishment was styled after the original Jack's, with Victorian touches such as pressed-copper ceilings, a hand-carved mahogany bar, and faeries only visible to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Now expanded to three New York locations, Uncle Jack's has proved so popular that William was selected to host Restaurant Stakeout, a Food Network program on which he helps struggling restaurateurs save their businesses. William often credits his success to a focus on quality, a trait noticeable after one glance at the menu. He handpicks all of the beef from cattle that are grown to the steakhouse's exact specifications on Nebraska ranches. The USDA Prime cuts are aged onsite up to 35 days, then cooked in 1800-degree infrared boilers that seal the meat's juices inside a perfectly charred exterior.
As with his godfather's place, William's restaurants cater to the city's elite. Athletes, actors, and local celebrities are often seen seated around Uncle Jack's tables, which isn't surprising considering the richly appointed dining rooms, paparazzi-repelling forcefields, and extravagant perks programs the restaurant provides. Birthday and anniversary reservations are rewarded with a bottle of Taittinger on the house, and the Lifestyle Rewards program lets members cash in their points for Rolex watches, Vegas vacations, and even a Porsche 911.
Peter Luger's is to steakhouses what Babe Ruth was to baseball—a dominant champion beloved by New Yorkers. The restaurant has been named the best steakhouse in New York by Zagat 28 years in a row, and it was even a charter member of that publication's hall of fame. Seated across from the long wood bar, one gets the sense the Babe would have approved of the restaurant's mighty meals, which typically consist of a porterhouse steak for two, three, or four (the sparse menu also includes lamb chops and fresh fish, but the steak is clearly the star). The owners of the restaurant are taking few risks in maintaining its superior status: they personally select the meat on daily visits to wholesale markets. The loin is then dry-aged in the restaurant's aging box, a process that makes it surprisingly tender, like a bully who suddenly realizes other kids need their milk money to buy candy. After it's broiled and doused in house steak sauce—a sauce the restaurant now sells online due to popular demand—the meat is ready to be devoured. It all adds up to the kind of meal that attracts actors, athletes, and the occasional covert lieutenant governor inauguration.
The sophisticated eatery features an extensive menu of gourmet fare and fresh sushi for lunch Monday through Friday, and dinner daily. Start a decadent dining experience with an order of the miso-marinated foie gras, complete with seared big-eye tuna and truffle ponzu ($21), or opt for the rich Italian burrata cheese ($17) for your daily dose of dairy. Popular entrees at the eatery include chorizo-crusted Maine diver scallops with a salsify and lobster emulsion ($32), and any of the prime, dry-aged steaks, such as the filet mignon charred to order and trailed by an entourage of four accompanying sauces ($29 for 8 ounces). If a painful book-club breakup leaves you craving emotion-mimicking raw fare, indulge in Two's fresh sushi offerings, such as the Strawberry Heaven roll with spicy crab, fresh strawberries, and a mango puree ($18), or the jalapeño, cilantro, yuzu soy, and garlic-gussied yellowtail sashimi ($8).
Boulder Creek Steakhouse’s dinner menu serves up deluxe cuts of steak with all the trimmings in a casual atmosphere. Starting with grain-fed meat aged a minimum of 28 days, each sirloin ($17.99), filet mignon ($28.99 for 12 oz./$23.99 for 8 oz.), and beyond is grilled to red-hot perfection and seasoned with a double-secret blend of spices. If you already had steak for lunch, breakfast, and your coworker’s office birthday party, savor the chicken parmesan ($15.99) or the jumbo shrimp scampi ($15.99) instead. Vegetarians, meanwhile, can abide by the terms of their uneasy peace treaty with cows by noshing on a garden fresh salad drizzled with homemade dressing ($4.99–$14.99). Keep a couple stomachs open for the brownie sundae ($5.99), the warm apple tart served over ice cream ($5.99), or both stacked on top of each other. Lighter lunchtime appetites will find that the turkey burger ($10.99), pulled-pork sammie ($11.99), and grilled chicken wrap ($10.99) are all created equal and thus enjoy equal rights to a side dish of onion rings or creamed spinach.
The menu of Italian comfort foods already lends Mezzanote Restaurant a familiar vibe, but it's the family-style service that truly makes guests feel at home. During meals, platters of veal milanese, chicken parmigiana, and pasta in meaty bolognese sauce can all arrive at once. From there, diners pass plates and serve themselves from the trays while enjoying the lively group-dining ambience. For a pleasant end to the meal, parties can either indulge in the kitchen's homemade tiramisu and italian cheesecake or try to guess their server's height in millimeters.
Owned by two native Irishmen, The Wicked Wolf Restaurant combines comforting culinary fare with the warm, welcoming hospitality of the Emerald Isle. Inside the cozy eatery, warm brick walls and rich mahogany woods embrace diners as they peruse the extensive menu. Meals march on hunger pangs with appetizers such as the potato pancakes, paired with applesauce and seared with medieval calligraphy from the Book of Kells. For more traditional pub fare, diners can brace bellies for a bounty of fish ‘n’ chips dipped into homemade tartar sauce. Tongues may also book passage aboard a cruise of more upscale Celtic cuisine, sailing toward succulent New Zealand lamb chops or a piping pot roast paired with red cabbage and potato pancakes and smothered in beef gravy.