Do not walk into One Rare Italian Steakhouse expecting the striking mahogany walls, shadowy booths, and brass accents of your father’s steakhouse. The brick façade welcomes you into a brightly lit dining room with artwork, exposed beams, and a sprawling bar complete with a phalanx of backlit bottles. It seems only fitting, then, that everything else about One Rare, from the menu to the chef’s training, is also a deviation from the norm.
Admir Alibasic didn’t go to culinary school. When he was 17 years old, his uncle Harry Sinanaj, co-owner of Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse in Manhattan and a partner in One Rare, came to his house to ask him if he wanted a job. He was immediately sent to the kitchen, where the simple swing of double doors sent his life in a new direction. “The chef there gave me a 10-inch chef’s knife and told me to ‘prepare,’” says Alibasic. “I had no clue what to do. We did over 400 [customers] that night, and I walked out at nine o’clock. My uncle stopped me, said I wasn’t done yet with my training, and sent me back into the kitchen.” His trial by fire and learning in the trenches created a complex yet flexible chef in Alibasic: He is eerily calm under pressure; he can fill in for another position at a moment’s notice — in the kitchen or otherwise — and he is so in sync with his ingredients that he could produce his full menu with his eyes closed. Now, he is attemping to create a legacy out of doing things differently.
Alibasic wanted to play with the types of menu items customers are used to seeing in steakhouses. While diners can rely on such favorites as thick-cut bacon and oysters, some items may cause a double take — in the best kind of way. Even the staunchest steakhouse loyalists will break free of their routines to order the Wagyu sliders with caramelized onions, tomato, special sauce, Havarti cheese or the mac ’n’ cheese trio (four cheeses, truffle, short rib). Even the calamari concept is refreshed, served with a sweet chili sauce and a spicy aioli instead of the traditional marinara.
All the steaks served at One Rare are dry-aged for at least 30 days. “I study the food science of everything,” says Alibasic. “Everyone says 28 days to dry-age, but that’s only in the perfect environment. You can tell by the look, smell, and texture when it’s ready.” As a perfect complement to the cuts of meat on offer, Alibasic has crafted a thoughtful menu beyond the chops. The buttery, fork-tender Chilean sea bass is served on silky potato gratin with grilled asparagus and a red pepper sauce that rehydrates the palate in the aftermath of such decadent bites. Though listed as side dishes but with portions suitable for entrées, the soy-glazed, bacon-sprinkled Brussels sprouts have a unique sweetness that slices through the savoriness of the main course, while the mac ’n’ cheese is gooey enough for Internet-worthy “cheese pulls.” Settle in with a glass or two of one of the restaurant’s 400 wine offerings or 40 aged whiskeys, and feel the time fly past.
16 E Parkway, Scarsdale; 914.330.8488; oneraresteakhouse.com