Mikpritje (“hospitality” in Albanian) is the word Edi Hima keeps at the forefront of his thoughts anytime a guest walks into American Prime, the steak-and-seafood restaurant he opened in July of 2022.
“It’s a tradition from my country,” says the Wilton resident, who came to America in 2000.
“When you’re a guest in an Albanian home, you’re welcomed even ahead of family members and treated very well.”
Aside from hospitality, knowing his way around cuts of meat is also something Hima is adept at. He and his two brothers, Aldo and Mike, own Blackstones Restaurant Group, which has four Fairfield County locations. His first job here was as a server at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse; he also worked at Sparks Steak House.
The key to serving a good steak, according to Hima, is using Prime, dry-aged product and a bit of salt, cooking it for 7–10 minutes on a heavy-duty grill at 700˚F or higher. The steaks come sizzling to the table; house-made side sauces, such as mushroom Port wine or peppercorn, make for excellent accompaniments.
Seafood accounts for approximately half of the menu offerings, including lemon-pepper shrimp, baked clams casino, pan-seared branzino in a caper-and-dill lemon-beurre blanc sauce. “If you use A-class seafood, there is no need to season it much or top it with heavy sauces.”
Desserts are house-made, and the cheesecake with berry compote is a worthy order.
The wine program is robust, with about 1,000 different bottles available (he has 60,000 total!), heavy on California, and most bottles are between $35 and $350. There are also 18 wines-by-the-glass.
Manager/mixologist Alexandra Harapi of Bedford heads up an inventive, seasonally changing craft-cocktail list. The blood-orange spicy margarita, with fresh lime and fresh blood-orange purée, and the Old Fashioned Paisano, made with orange-thyme simple syrup, are two recent yet popular creations.
The 8,000-square-foot space with 255 seats (plus another 45 outside) was previously Westchester Burger Company and has three kitchens and multiple private spaces. The large size is one of the reasons Hima likes the location; he has been able to garner corporate business, including private parties for the likes of PepsiCo, Mastercard, Morgan Stanley, medical groups, and other area companies.
A key to running a successful restaurant for Hima is to know if his customers are happy, and if not, to rectify the situation immediately.
“I tell my servers not to constantly ask ‘How was your meal?’ as this can become annoying. You can tell by walking the floor and looking at a table if they are happy or not with the experience,” he says. “The feedback I’ve been getting is encouraging. Many patrons shake my hand when they leave, saying this is what was needed here and that they’re glad we opened.”
275 S Ridge St, Rye Brook