The soft glow of flames emanates from the stone fireplaces at Grillfire Long Beach, rippling over wall-mounted wine racks and settling upon diners with plates of herb-grilled pork chops and house-made chicken pot pie. Servers suggest wines from the wine list to complement these dishes as well as herb-grilled pork chop entrees, rich portions of macaroni 'n' cheese crowned with a layer of toasted herb bread crumbs, and the customer's iris color. Live music mingles with conversation during live performances on the weekends.
Frank's Steaks has all the respectable hallmarks of an old-school steak house: white table cloths, neatly folded napkins, and dim lighting setting the mood. But then there are the crayons. They aren't there to keep kids busy—they're there so inspired diners of all ages can scrawl art onto the butcher paper atop each table. The most compelling works are framed and hung on the walls of the establishment, a fitting goal for diners to strive for when waiting for their mouthwatering steaks to arrive.
The signature Romanian skirt steak is certainly worth putting a crayon down for—the tender, juicy cut comes dripping in a marinade of garlic and duck sauce. A 42-ounce porterhouse, meanwhile, easily satisfies two diners or two medium-sized tanks of piranhas. Desserts also come in generous proportions, featuring smooth sorbets, triple-layer chocolate cake, and ice-cream pies.
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.
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 chefs at Twain's Chicken & Ribs deep-fry chicken and shrimp and baste slabs of ribs in tangy barbecue sauce to populate a menu of down-home favorites. Diners quell poultry cravings with four pieces of fried chicken ($6.25) or feed a ravenous family with a meal of eight pieces of fried chicken, six fried shrimp, and two large sides, such as macaroni salad and creamed spinach ($24.99). A half-rack of ribs ($10.59) induces salivation with a zesty dry rub, and a basket of popcorn shrimp ($6.95) greatly enhances underwater film screenings.