The porterhouse at BLT in White Plains | Photo courtesy of BLT Steak White Plains
Some of the finest steaks this side of the Lone Star State are sizzling at Westchester’s premier steakhouses and at some unexpected eateries in all corners of the county.
By Jena A. Butterfield, Cristiana Caruso & Michelle Gillan Larkin
It wasn’t all that long ago that a good steak was a bridge toll and a couple of boroughs away (yes, you know the one). Today, Westchester is a veritable hotbed of first-class cuts of beef, proffering quality, taste, and surrounding ambience that rival NYC’s esteemed steakhouses. From traditional venues that dry-age their steaks in-house to fine-dining establishments, neighborhood pubs, and even exquisite seafood restaurants that satisfy the most discerning of landlubbers, there is really no reason to venture beyond the confines of the county for a truly top steak.
Averna Italian Steakhouse
Intimate, elegant, and eternally welcoming, this downtown newcomer may be the baby in the bunch among the county’s notable steakhouses, but it boasts big-boy cred, with accomplished steakhouse veterans running the front and back of the house with a family-business mindset and gracious Albanian hospitality. All five steaks on offer are USDA Prime cuts, dry-aged for 28-days, including bone-in strips and rib-eyes, filet mignon, and the kitchen-preferred bone-in tomahawk rib-eye for two. “It’s the most tender and flavorful,” says Chef Carlos del Cid, due mainly to more marbling, which translates to more fat. “Not everyone wants to see fat, so, then, the porterhouse is the best. It’s tender, and there’s something for everyone, because it’s two steaks in one.”
An expansive menu puts non-steak eaters (or those taking a steak break) at ease with grilled chops of veal, lamb, and pork; pastas (rigatoni with a Bolognese of blended, ground Prime meats is the star); chicken dishes; and an ocean of pan-seared fish options. Some 200 wines, mostly Italian and California reds, wash it all down and pave the way for del Cid’s signature finish: steaming caramel toffee cake.
Benjamin Steak House
White Plains; benjaminsteakhouse.com/Westchester
Having cut their teeth at the birthplace of what is objectively the model of the quintessential American steakhouse (up and down the East coast, anyway), ex-Peter Luger waiters Benjamin Prelvukaj and Benjamin Sinanaj, brothers-in-law of Albanian descent, are the masterminds of the highly successful string of Benjamin Steak House and seafood restaurants that decorate the maps of New York and Japan. Each steak they serve is handpicked and dry-aged in-house, from the porterhouse for two, three, or four, to the filet mignon and the New York sirloin, as well as the bone-in rib-eye, the personal favorite of Prelvukaj. “It’s a little fattier, so it needs more time to age, and most places don’t get it right.” He ages his for 5 to 6 weeks, and once that process is complete, “it’s to die for.” Every main course on the menu, steak or not (i.e., Chilean sea bass, rack of lamb, whole Maine lobster), pairs perfectly with the signature creamless creamed spinach, raw and chilled seafood starters, and an array of decadent salads.
Carnivore or pescatarian, the setting for indulging is decidedly Old World, clubby steakhouse, with rich woodwork and a grand fireplace casting a handsome glow, while prominent floral arrangements and natural light lend softness and a distinctly modern flair.
BLT Steak White Plains
White Plains; bltrestaurants.com/location/blt-steak-white-plains
A link in an international chain of celebrated beef-based venues, this sophisticated Downtown charmer manages to fit right in among the county’s collection of independent steakhouses, eliciting a similarly local and distinguishing feel with its refined yet classic bistro milieu. A succinct menu of seafood (raw, chilled, roasted, and sautéed), chicken, and lamb entrées buoy the selection of naturally raised Black Angus steaks from filet mignon, hanger, strip, porterhouse, and cowboy rib-eye to the showstopping Kansas City 18-oz bone-in strip that’s aged for 35 days. “Its excellent marbling and funky dry-age notes make it delicious,” says culinary director Cliff Crooks.
No matter the cut, meat is cooked at more than 1,600° to achieve the characteristic exterior char, while taste is enhanced with just salt and cracked pepper. “What’s really special about our steaks is the way we pay respect to the product and treat it as is,” notes Crooks. “A lot of the natural flavors come forward in our cooking approach.” Although steaks on the regular menu are not USDA Prime, the rotating blackboard lineup features frequent appearances by such special cuts.
The secret ingredient at this old-school, passion-driven chophouse is chef and restaurateur Nikolla Vulaj, whose butchering skills were finely honed at the tender age of 16, after emigrating from Montenegro via Italy to the Bronx. “When I came here, I ended up at an Arthur Avenue butcher,” he says of the craft-focused community where he earned his, ahem, chops. A consummate craftsman, Vulaj butchers his own cuts on the premises, dry-aging them in-house five and a half to six weeks.
The menu at this meat-lovers mecca boasts a “mammoth” porterhouse cut for four. The impressive entrée hits the table charred and juicy. Other customer faves include filet on the bone and the oh-so-civilized French-trimmed tomahawks. Wagyu from Japan is always on hand and often runs as a special. Classic sides and apps are seasonally influenced, and such Italian classics as eggplant rollatini dot the list, as well as thoughtfully curated seafood, like the massive Ecuadorean wild-caught shrimp. Desserts are made in-house daily. And stay tuned: The digs will be getting a facelift this year.
Frankie & Johnnie’s
For 22 years, this Rye outpost of the original NYC institution has been steadfast as an arbiter of all things meaty, potent, and rich. Established in 1926 on West 45th Street as a Prohibition-era speakeasy (password: “Frankie”; response: “Johnnie”), the Westchester iteration is housed in the former Rye Trust Bank building on the town’s active Main Street. Its central location infuses the restaurant with the high-powered energy and convivial spirit of its community. “People say, New York steakhouse,” says Manager Fran Dolan. “We feel like we’re a Rye, New York steakhouse.” The historic bank setting allows for soaring ceilings and mezzanine seating, where patrons overlook a dominant mural, Mahogany bar, and candle-filled fireplace in the lounge below.
The traditional menu and thickly butchered, flavor-packed steaks include USDA Prime dry-aged, bone-in cuts that sizzle their way to your mouth. Career servers make sure there’s always a bottle of F&J’s own steak sauce on the table, a family recipe that has its own following. The a la carte menu includes classics like creamed spinach, and there are a whopping eight iterations of potatoes. The kitchen also churns out house-made pastas and desserts, while a massive wine list covers every price point, skewing heavily Californian, with a focus on big, bold Cabs.
Lenny’s North/Lenny’s Seafood & Steakhouse
Since opening its doors in 2000, Lenny’s has created a welcoming and warm environment that’s more like your good friend’s house and less like a traditional steakhouse. The owners of Il Castello in Mamaroneck have curated not only some of the best meat cuts in the county but also a selection of seafood, including a raw bar. If your tastes tend to lean more bovine, all the steaks Lenny’s serves up are dry-aged for 21 days and paired with the house signature steak sauce.
There’s no scarcity of meat selections on Lenny’s offering board. There’s the petite Prime filet mignon for something light, the king cut filet mignon fit for royalty, a boneless rib-eye, and a tomahawk long-bone rib-eye. And don’t worry, if that’s not enough meat, Lenny’s offers even larger portions — just ask! The accompaniments Lenny’s serves up are just as unique as their steaks. Dive into their duck-fat home fries with chives, the garlic escarole with white Tuscan beans, and if you’re in the mood for something lavish (you’re at a steakhouse, so who isn’t?), splurge on the lobster home fries with leeks and truffle oil.
Macelleria Italian Steakhouse
A 2021 recipient of the coveted Bib Gourmand award from Michelin, Macelleria dishes out American staples you’d expect at a steakhouse but with Italian flair. Lush spaghetti carbonara, zuppa di pesce, and sole oregonata are all peppered into the menu, along with perfectly rendered steak. The marquee item is a tomahawk rib-eye, dry-aged for 24 days. “All of our steaks are dry-aged for a minimum 21 days and are USDA Prime,” says Armonk Executive Chef Edward Avdyli, who began his career serving up the steaks of legend at Peter Luger’s. “I handpick the meat myself.”
To percolate your taste buds before the sizzling hot plate of steak hits your table, order the diver scallops. Not only are they fork-tender and enrobed with a freshness of asparagus and bell pepper, but the finishing drizzle of black-truffle oil is just enough earthiness to even out the palate. If instead, you’d like to tease your taste buds with some meat before the rest of the meat, Chef Avdyli creates a steak tartare that has saltiness and silkiness, perfectly balanced by the exceptional grade of meat and the egg yolk delicately topping the dish.
Sea Flame Seafood & Steakhouse
Armed with knowledge and know-how he gleaned as general manager of Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in NYC over the course of a decade, Peter Bicaj knows a thing or two about steak, and how to run a steakhouse. (After all, Wolfgang, himself, was a career head waiter at that oft-mentioned Brooklyn steak joint.) As co-owner and GM of this relatively young suburban strip-mall sensation, Bicaj relies on his irrefutable experience and expertise to provide “proper dry-aged steaks found at only the best steakhouses.” Dry-aging takes time,” he notes, along with “a keen eye for quality and a precise technique for the perfect ripening climate.” USDA Prime Black Angus beef, sourced from specific farms in the Midwest, arrives on-site partially aged to be finished in-house, yielding what Bicaj calls “the best that Angus beef has to offer.” The porterhouse is not to be missed, he says, though filet mignon, a 28-oz bone-in rib-eye, and bone-in sirloin are solid contenders.
A sea of fresh-catch seafood (raw, chilled, grilled, and broiled) dominates the rest of the menu with a couple of chops (veal, lamb) and a pasta dish or two for good measure. Timeless steakhouse sides are the expected standards, with lobster mac ’n’ cheese offering a fresh, elevated take on a trusted classic.
Steak & Wine: Perfect Together
Marcelino Martinez III from Hastings’ Harvest-on-Hudson weighs in on which wine to pair with each particular cut of steak.
The two different tenderness profiles of this cut pair well with a multifaceted Barolo. The elegant and full-bodied Nebbiolo grape is dry and tannic, cleaning the palate. It’s a perfect foil to the fattiness.
“The Cadillac of steaks” is tender and requires something sophisticated. Martinez suggests a Bordeaux to match the intensity of this cut’s more delicate flavors.
A juicy and delicious cut. The fat content lends itself well to a richer wine, like an Amarone della Valpolicella or a Ripasso. “It’s more about the texture and elegance of the wine.”
New York Strip
“Plays well with many [wines],” says Martinez. He suggests a full-bodied Malbec with more polished tannins or a Brunello di Montalcino, softened with a little age (try the 2010 or 2013 vintages).
Bonus tip #1 “Champagne can go with anything,” says Martinez. “Not only steak but life itself.” Caveat: With steak, opt for a fuller bodied rosé Champagne.
Bonus tip #2 The cook matters. Well-done steak (say it ain’t so!) will be drier, for example, so stay away from dry wines and opt for a fruit-forward Cab from a warm climate, like California.
Bonus tip #3 Preparation also matters: Both the viscosity of a cream sauce or creamed spinach side and the sweetness of caramelized onions pair well with the ripe, baked-fruit flavor-profile of a Zinfandel or Primitivo. Steak with mushrooms may pair better with something earthy or woodsy like Brunello.
DIY Steak Dinner
When the urge to enjoy a good steak in the comfort of your own home strikes, consider these trusted, top-tier purveyors of all things beef.
Starting out as a general store circa 1890 and spanning three generations, this local fave for fine meats (and fresh-daily seafood) deserves a shout-out for its steaks and is equally famous for its burgers and beef kabobs.
Crisfield’s Prime Meats
This old-school butcher (with a young, new owner) was founded by Rye-namesake Theodore Fremd in 1887 and offers an expansive array of Prime beef, plus every imaginable cut of steak under the sun.
Fiamma Pork Store
Italian for “flame,” Fiamma’s Doug Tucci, a transplanted Bronx restauranteur, focuses on Prime beef, rib-eye, and porterhouse, and offers a house-jarred espresso rub for enhancing the natural richness and flavor of red meat.
Ulises’s Butcher Shop
There is no shortage of fine meat at Ulises. From prime T-bone and top sirloin to filet mignon and skirt steak, it is all handled by career butcher Ulises Urbina himself, daughter Salma Urbina and son-in-law Gabriel Jimenez.
Village Prime Meats
Those in the know flock here for fresh, unfrozen Thanksgiving turkeys, but career butcher John Rubio delights customers year-round with his selection of 100% USDA Prime beef, including filet mignon, shell steaks, and prime rib.
Perched in the center of the butcher section, like a beacon for grill enthusiasts or people who just really love meat, is Wegmans’ dry-aging case, where you can watch your steak tenderize before your eyes. All cuts are dry-aged for a minimum of 21 days, but if you want a funkier tang, choose the 45-day option.
Steakhouse-Quality Cuts at Non-Steakhouses
Alex’s Bar & Grille
White Plains; alex577.com
The customer is always right at this hybrid steakhouse/Italian eatery that, for the last decade, has drawn loyal customers to its location just outside the city center. Among the strong offerings hot off the grill: USDA Prime sirloin, broiled and seasoned to juicy perfection is a consistent crowd-pleaser. The convivial atmosphere, created by owner Alex Ahmetaj and his attentive staff, is enhanced by the illusive novelty of getting all the little things right.
Crabtree’s Kittle House Restaurant & Inn
At this pillar of Westchester’s farm-to-table dining scene, where all meat on the menu is grass-fed and humanely raised, four Prime steaks are on offer (including filet mignon, rib-eye, and New York strip), but it’s the hanger steak frites that commands attention. Delicately dressed with house-made harissa chimichurri sauce, the tender, tasty, and juicy selection (from the upper belly) is served with hand-cut french fries and an arugula salad dotted with feta from nearby Danasca Farm.
Located within the confines of Lake Isle Country Club, Gigante’s creative, purple-lit space has a swank nightlife vibe more modern than traditional. The Italian-inspired menu of American-classic dishes is a crowd-pleasing triumph. And steak lovers, take note: The crave-worthy filet mignon is a tender, drool-inducing specimen of butchery. The Prime beef tenderloin is served with plancha green beans, onion rings, and red a wine sauce that’ll have you shamelessly sopping up your plate.
KEE Oyster House
White Plains; keeoysterhouse.com
With a bona fide background in beef (13 years at Manhattan’s Sparks Steakhouse), owner Elvi Hoxhaj says steakhouses and fish houses are like brother and sister, and “I could battle it out with any steakhouse, any day.” Amid the seafood towers, raw bar, and whole-fish entrées, Hoxhaj serves four Prime steaks, the most popular being the specials-turned-regulars of grilled skirt steak with house-made chimichurri sauce and the 32-oz dry-aged porterhouse for two.
Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish
North Salem; farmerandthefish.com
While much of the offerings are sourced from the on-site farm, the sole steak on the menu hails from Colorado-based Niman Ranch’s family of famers, who raise meat following humane, ethical, and sustainable practices. It’s a free-range, grass-fed boneless Angus strip that’s blessed with a red-wine sauce and accompanied by olive-oil smashed potato, pan-roasted carrots, and puréed spinach — all harvested mere hours before arriving at the table (when the seasons allow).
Squire’s of Briarcliff
A county staple since 1967, Squire’s earns accolades for both its succulent steaks and its oft-lauded burgers. The tavern’s “most popular steak” is the 14-oz New York-cut sirloin. This charred and fatless wonder gets eager carnivores salivating and leaves no question that the understated, wood-paneled haunt, located in a small strip mall on the “other” side of route 9A, has a cult following for reasons that transcend its humble perception.
The star steak at this uber-cool Italian restaurant with hip city vibes and consistent Best Of cred is a 16-oz Parmesan-encrusted New York strip that comes out crisp-topped and golden, sizzling on a black iron-skillet plate and served with a personal basket of Parmesan-truffle fries and roasted-garlic aioli. Executive Chef Giuseppe Fanelli, whose pedigree includes Lidia Bastianich’s Felidia and the legendary Rao’s, sources his steaks from nationally celebrated butcher Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors.
X2O Xaviars on the Hudson
For deeply discerning carnivores who demand their cuts carry a certain pedigree, the 40-oz grilled cowboy rib-eye at this glass-wrapped, riverside restaurant should pass muster. “It’s the steak that slayed Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America,” says chef/owner Peter X. Kelly. Aged for 28 days and then marinated for another two to four in a dry rub of brown sugar and cayenne, it shares plate space with creamed spinach and gratin potatoes with béarnaise sauce and easily serves two.