The only thing better than being invited to try out a complimentary dinner at a new restaurant is being invited to try out a steakhouse. Rocco Steakhouse is the mastermind of owner Rocco Trotta, who put together a staff of big names from old school NYC steakhouses, including the man who served as the general manager at Wolfgang’s for a decade. (And Wolfgang, of course, started his steakhouse after working at Peter Luger, so you just have to love all of the entanglement within the NYC steakhouse strata.) With another well-known steakhouse on the same block, I asked GM Pete Pjetrovic why he partnered with Rocco and beverage director Jeff Kolenovic to open the space on Madison Avenue; he said he knew they could create a better steakhouse with the best ingredients, the best chef, and the best head waiter.
It seems like the neighborhood agrees. When I sat down right after work, the completely enclosed dining room was nearly empty, but by the time my thick Canadian bacon with just the right amount of char arrived, it was full of regulars. Or maybe that’s just how the waiters treat everyone who walks in the door. I heard lots of “how are the kids?” followed by handshakes and pats on the back. The staff was warm and friendly and let me annoy them for a picture where they wrapped their arms around each other’s shoulders like brothers. But of course when it was time to serve the steak, they were all business.
With tender meaty parts and fatty parts that just melt away, this is so filling I split it with my boyfriend. So this giant hunk here? Only half of what you get.
The porterhouse for two, medium rare, from the house’s own aging box, served in sizzling butter. It was thickly crusted on the outside, beautifully pink inside, and seasoned by someone with no fear, and I mean that as the greatest compliment. At $51.95 per person, this is the most expensive porterhouse I can think of in the city, which probably explains why the room was filled with dates and business dinners alike; this is where you take someone to impress them.
Huge sides of creamed spinach and lobster mac & cheese, big enough for the family but so fresh and homemade-tasting that you won’t want to share. I especially liked the sweetness the shredded lobster pieces added, along with that crispy cheese top. The spinach was so creamy it was like a bisque, but it still had a really natural spinach flavor that balanced the richness of the steak.
This is the thing I long to see most on a steakhouse dessert menu. If you don’t have schlag, don’t waste my time.
Here, I’ll give you a second to admire it. Go on, drink it all in. Technically, it’s whipped cream. Just, you know, whipped cream so thick it eats like a meal.
The creme brûlée was baked in a thick dish that gave it a better lemony custard to caramelized sugar ratio than I’m used to. The cheesecake was from Junior’s, so you can come here as a tourist and not have to go to Brooklyn for your world famous cheesecake fix!
72 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10016 ()