When it comes to the ultimate in dining, not many dishes can upstage a great steak.
You know you have one when it arrives at your table sizzling hot, with a seared, crisped crust and a pink interior that cuts like butter.
You know you’ve had one when you rest your fork on the plate after it’s gone, and wish you could do it all over again.
There are plenty of places at the Shore to get a steak that’s just that good — here are a few.
Danny’s Steak House and Sushi
At Danny’s, it hasn’t always been about the steak.
When Danny’s Italian opened in Red Bank in 1969, Danny Murphy served pasta and pizzas, preparing food inspired by his family’s history in the restaurant business.
Fast forward two decades, and Italian food was everywhere in the borough.
“I thought, there’s so many Italian restaurants,” Murphy said, “let me turn it into something else.
So he took a year to learn everything he could about great steaks.
“I went to every steakhouse in New York and every purveyor,” he said. “Most diners could never imagine what it takes to obtain and serve truly great steaks. That’s why it took a year to do the research.
“I wanted to design it like Peter Luger Steak House (in Brooklyn),” said Murphy, now 71. “I met Mrs. Luger and Mr. Luger, and eventually I turned Danny’s into a steakhouse.”
That was in 1989. These days, Murphy’s menu includes grass-fed rib-eyes and New York strip steaks from New Zealand, grilled filet mignon and rib eye; a dry-aged Porterhouse, and chateaubriand for two. The steaks are served alongside roasted garlic mashed potatoes, a baked Idaho potato, sweet potato fries or steak fries, and steamed broccoli.
“The steaks are everything today, from dry-aged to grass-fed to a great choice of prime cuts,” said Murphy, who has rigorous standards for his suppliers and doesn’t hesitate to send a steak back if it doesn’t meet them.
“They age the meat and cut it to my specifications, and the bottom line is if it’s not great, they get it right back,” he said.
Murphy said his filet mignon is the most popular steak he serves, followed by the rib-eye then the grass-fed offerings.
“As everybody’s aging, a healthy diet is extremely important,” he said. “(Grass-fed meat) has less fat and less cholesterol, no drugs of any kind. It’s great tasting, a little bit of different taste. It’s just a lot healthier for you.”
When it’s time to order, Murphy encourages diners to go for rare — if they can handle it — or medium rare, to truly enjoy the flavor of the meat.
Neil Michael’s Steakhouse
At Neil Michael’s Steakhouse in Atlantic Highlands, you’ll find steak that’s prepared simply, but with great flavor.
The Atlantic Highlands restaurant is owned by John Dvorschak and Neil and Patty Malloy, who opened Neil Michael’s in 2012 after working together at Walter Mihms Steakhouse, formerly on the property.
“Our product is excellent,” said Dvorschak, who is 44 and lives the Belford section of Middletown, “and we’re anywhere between $10 and $15 cheaper per steak, but our quality and product is just as good as any other steakhouse.”
The steaks at Neil Michael’s are simply prepared — salt, pepper and some time on the grill is all they need.
“The most popular, I believe, is our 10-ounce filet (mignon), our 7-ounce filet,” he said, adding that customers also enjoy the restaurant’s strip steaks and cowboy rib-eye, which is a rib-eye on the bone. The 20-ounce Kansas City dry-aged steak, which is a strip steak with a bone, is one of their best.
“We serve frizzled onions on top, and it comes with grilled vegetables,” Dvorschak said of Neil Michael’s steaks, and other sides include Brussels sprouts with bacon, scalloped potatoes and baked potatoes.
Shipwreck Point Steakhouse
Location? Check. Service? Check. Great steaks? Oh, yes.
Shipwreck Point Steakhouse, which sits along the inlet in Point Pleasant Beach, takes pride in its focus on those three things, those components that together add up to a memorable dinner out. The restaurant hums along with regulars in the winter and is flooded with diners when the weather warms up.
The property has seen some changes over the last year — owners Rich McGrory and Terri Granato took over in March 2014, and a new chef recently joined the kitchen, general manager Rob Pascual said. Some menu changes are in the works — they are moving toward a farm-to-table focus, with more local produce — but the restaurant’s signature steaks aren’t going anywhere.
“What we try to do is replicate what the big steakhouses in the city are doing,” Pascual said of Shipwreck Point’s thick steaks, which come from J. Vrola Meats in South Amboy and are prepared, he says, the way steaks are across the river. “We have an upright broiler, the flame comes from the top and goes down. Most of the steakhouses, that’s what they use.”
This type of preparation helps avoid the too-charred taste that can sometimes come from searing meat over high heat, said Pascual, 55, of West Orange.
The favorite cut of Shipwreck Point diners is the filet mignon, he said, adding that a 14-ounce, bone-in version is being added to the menu.
But before they hit the broiler, the steaks all get their signature taste from a guarded recipe.
“We do have a special butter (maitre’d butter),” Pascual said. “It’s real good, adds a bit of flavor.”
The finished steaks come with crispy buttermilk onion rings and the housemade, tomato-based steak sauce, and diners can choose from several sauces — parsley, shallot butter, horseradish, choron, “which is more of a bernaise but has more tarragon and a little tomato,” he said; mushroom and bacon cream, hollandaise, and au poivre.
“It’s just good food, that’s the whole thing for me,” said Pascual, who has been in the restaurant business for 30 years. “That’s my focus, being able to give the customers the best that we can get.”
LongHorn Steakhouse has added a few new steaks to its menu.
There’s the triple bacon sirloin, a fire-grilled sirloin wrapped with bacon, topped with bacon and finished with bacon tomato hollandaise; a shiitake truffle mushroom sirloin, grilled sirloin layered with sautéed shiitake mushrooms and a savory truffle mushroom sauce; and a garlic and provolone sirloin, a grilled sirloin topped with roasted garlic and melted provolone cheese.
No list would be complete without a mention of Steaks Unlimited, 14 Dupont Ave., Seaside Heights. Although it’s not a “steak house,” no trip to the Shore is complete without one of their famous cheese steaks or an order of cheeseballs, as seen on MTV’s “Jersey Shore.” May we suggest the Big John, topped with steak, chicken and cheese? Call 732-830-8830 or visit www.steaksunlimited.com.
- Prime 13 in Point Pleasant Beach: Try the cowboy steak topped with seared scallops, the 44-ounce free range Angus beef Porterhouse, or the New York strip steak with whipped potatoes and grilled asparagus; 710 Arnold Ave.; 732-202-6483,http://prime-13.com.
- Char in Red Bank: Try the 14-ounce, dry-aged, bone-in filet mignon; the 20-ounce prime, dry-aged Kansas City steak, or the 20-ounce dry-aged cowboy rib-eye; 33 Broad St.; 732-450-2427, http://charsteakhouse.com.
- Brass Rail Bar & Grill in Matawan: Known for their prime rib, which is slow roasted daily for four hours and available in three cuts — English, regular and giant. The steak is served five ways — au jus; Murphy, with onions, potatoes and peppers; Cajun; Montreal; and smothered, with sauteed onions and peppers, brown gravy and provolone; 89 Route 79; 732-290-8400, www.brassrailgrill.com.
- Verve in Somerville (Somerset County): Try the dry-aged Black Angus New York strip, served with au poivre sauce and garlic mashed potatoes; 18 E. Main St.; 908-707-8655, www.vervestyle.com.
- The Portuguese Fisherman in South River (Middlesex County): Try the Angus na casserola, a sizzling cut of Black Angus served in a hot clay dish and finished with garlic butter; the steak Portuguese style, a sirloin with house garlic sauce, a slice of ham and an egg on top; or the filet mignon a Portuguesa, a grass-fed steak topped with ham and garlic sauce; 11 Jackson St.; 732-238-5188,www.portuguesefisherman.com.
- Roots Steakhouse in Morristown (Morris County) and Summit (Union County): Choose the 20-ounce dry-aged cowboy steak or Kansas City steak, the 24-ounce dry-aged T-bone, the 48-ounce Porterhouse for two, and plenty more; 40 West Park Place in Morristown, 973-326-1800, and 401 Springfield Ave. in Summit, 908-273-0027.