German-born Wolfgang Zwiener, now 76, spent 40 years at the venerable Peter Luger steakhouse in Brooklyn, mainly as headwaiter. He left to open a steak house of his own, Wolfgang’s, in Manhattan, in 2004. Some Luger waiters jumped ship with him. Now there are five Wolfgang’s Steakhouses in the city, one each in Beverly Hills, Miami and Honolulu, two in Japan, one in Korea and one in Somerville, which opened in January.
Wolfgang’s superlative prime beef, veal and lamb come from Master Purveyors in the Bronx, which also supplies Peter Luger and other top temples of meat. “Mr. Wolfgang hand-picks every cut of meat served at his restaurants,” Somerville executive chef Nedzad Jevric told me in a phone call after my visits, “and is here in the kitchen around once a week.”
Jevric, 44, worked for Zwiener since 2008 and was executive chef of the Wolfgang’s in TriBeCa before opening Somerville. “It’s beautiful to be a chef who works with beef of this quality,” he said. “Eating a steak like this, it’s a feast. It’s part of being human.” [At deadline, Jevric was succeeded by a new executive chef, Douglas Baladaras, another Zwiener veteran.]
The restaurant’s beef cannot be faulted in caliber, cooking precision or depth of flavor. Porterhouse, bone-in New York sirloin and rib-eye steaks and rib lamb chops are dry-aged in-house for up to 28 days. Individual steaks are not sliced from the larger cut until the order is received. Filet mignon is the only steak not dry aged. “It wet ages in a vacuum package for a week,” Jevric told me.
Each steak is rubbed with kosher salt and broiled to order. I like mine black-and-blue, which is rarer than rare, and the kitchen nailed it. The lush filet mignon (available in 8-ounce or monstrous 1-pound portions) is so tender it can be cut with a fork, but still delivers beefy flavor.
Wolfgang’s porterhouse for two ($49.95 per person) is served sizzling in butter on a metal charger. Beneath its magnificent crust lies flawless, flavorful meat, half of which you’ll take home—it’s that big. The strapping rib eye is marbled with meltingly succulent fat. Of all the steaks, the New York sirloin imparted the most robust beef flavor. Being cooked on the bone has a lot to do with that.
The lamb chops were delectably charred and well endowed with lamb’s inimitable flavor. Like everything at Wolfgang’s, the serving is massive, a rack of five big chops.
There are seafood, chicken, baby-back ribs, a pasta and a soup du jour. Stick with beef or lamb for the main event and order chilled seafood to start. The seafood tower appetizer, with fresh lobster tail, two giant shrimp and a pile of lump crabmeat, was a relative bargain at $27.95. So was the half-lobster cocktail ($21.95), served in the shell. Also excellent were the crab cake and tuna tartare (bright with ginger, lime juice and bits of fresh pineapple). Wolfgang’s salad came topped with diced, lean, Canadian bacon. You’re not here to lower your cholesterol, so go ahead and get the Roquefort dressing. It’s splendid.
German potatoes (home fries sautéed, then crisped in the oven) were the best of the sides. Steak fries were bland, onion rings all breading, sautéed mushrooms sorely undercooked. Creamed spinach was quirkily creamless (it’s made with chicken stock, butter and a bit of flour).
Most desserts are not made in-house. The best thing about the cheesecake, pecan pie and Key lime pie was the house-made schlag—Old World sweetened whipped cream.
Wolfgang’s is far from a pleasant, relaxing place to spend a lot of money. It’s blinkingly bright and relentlessly noisy, the latter compounded by the over-amplified stylings of a cornball cocktail pianist. One night, the staff did a sound check for an upcoming private event by blasting rap music for several excruciating minutes.Click here to leave a comment
Cuisine Type:American - Steaks
Price Details:Appetizers and salads, $8.95-$21.95; steaks,chops, $28.95-$51.95; other entrées, $18.95-$39.95; sides, $6.95-$13.95; desserts, $10.95.
Wine list:Deep in California reds