Steak Out: Bobby Van’s
Carnivores unite - especially if you're headed to New York City or a few other select locations throughout the Northeast. Bobby Van's Steakhouse has been an iconic part of the dining scene since its 1969 opening by namesake Bobby Van. The original Bridehampton location played host to the likes of Truman Capote and other creative luminaries, but after 20 years, Van grew tired of the restaurant industry and sold the business to four Manhattan restaurateurs; Joseph Smith, Joe Phair, Rick Passarelli, and Joe Hickey.
Today, Bobby Van's has grown into nine locations (including an outpost at John F. Kennedy airport), but if you're dining with a guest who might not be so keen on a hunk of Prime USDA beef, consider New York City's West 50th Street location, which inherited a pizza oven from its prior tenant. Beautifully blistered crusts topped with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and a variety of toppings will transport you to Naples. Also be sure to sample Harry's Salad - an ingredient-packed concoction of tomato, red onion, bacon, shrimp, string beans and red pepper - named after billionaire Harry Helmsley.
But it's the signature steaks that keep customers coming back to Bobby Van's. You'll find all the usual cuts, including a porterhouse for two, which includes the beautifully marbled strip steak and lean tenderloin. Shame on you if you order it beyond medium rare. Mile-high sides can easily be shared.
The wine list is approachable with some solid by-the-glass options if your dining companions have different tastes, but if you're eating steak, red is the way to go. The main reason why this is a perfect pairing is that tannins in red wines mix on your palate with the steak's fat, making a meaty, buttery, Umami flavor explosion in your mouth. That's a good thing.
Consider a glass of Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California. Big, bold and brawny with lots of dark fruit and noticeable oak, it's a terrific pairing with meat. If you'd prefer Old World, the Tenuta di Trecciano Chianti will pair with a lighter first course or pizza. For super ripe dark fruit with hints of black pepper, Fat Tree Shiraz from Australia makes the perfect meaty pair.
Service at Bobby Van's Steakhouse embraces a New York of days gone by. You'll find few actor wannabees, but instead, career waiters who have been around the block a few times. They're characters that add to the flavor and charm of the dining experience. And if you misstep with your ordering (steak well-done!), they'll be sure to be set you on the right track.
Bobby Van's Steakhouse
135 West 50th Street
For other locations, visit: www.bobbyvans.com
Additional contributions to this article by Kristen Siebecker.