Chef-Owner Jeffrey Stout weathered not only three years of permit approvals and construction, but a worldwide pandemic, to finally open his splashy new Be.Steak.A.
For diners, it was more than worth the wait.
The fine-dining Italian-influenced steakhouse playfully named for the classic Italian steak known as bistecca Fiorentina, initially was limited to only takeout during the pandemic. But now, with both indoor and outdoor seating available, it can be enjoyed in its full glory.
Whereas his Orchard City Kitchen, just steps away in the same Pruneyard complex, presents a casual and eclectic array of global small plates, Be.Steak.A is pure luxe. It’s where 5 ounces of Hokkaido Snow Beef (aka A5 strip loin) with a “snow” of cacio e pepe will set you back $288. And no, that’s not a typo. It’s where food is presented on famed Italian blue and white ceramics by Richard Ginori. But it’s also a restaurant that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s not stuffy in the least, not when deeply bronzed beef fat popovers ($9) with smoky deviled ham butter (like the most elevated version ever of Underwood Deviled Ham) and pickled cucumbers is served under a cloche shaped like a lounging pig.
When you check in at the host stand, you’re presented with a soothing cup of warm bone broth. As you’re escorted to your table, you pass a huge long window that affords a direct view into the kitchen, all done up in stainless steel with accents of lipstick-red all around. If you happen to time it just right, you might even get to see cooks making pasta by hand at a massive table in front of the window.
If you choose to dine outdoors, as I did last week, you will be very comfortable with a roaring fireplace to keep things cozy, and a louvered roof to keep the sun at bay when needed.
On the table, you’ll find what appears to be well-thumbed copies of Wine Spectator, but cleverly hide the wine list inside. There’s also what looks to be a keepsake photo album with old snapshots of celebrities that actually is the cocktail list.
The Almond Biscotti Negroni ($13) comes to the table in a delicate, ribbed martini glass so elegant that I felt like I ought be wearing kitten heels and draped in a feather boa to imbibe it. A blend of grappa, amaretto, Alpe Lys (an amaro), and drops of walnut oil that floated on the surface, it possessed the bitter orange I love in Negronis, but also a pronounced nuttiness like sherry plus an undercurrent of herbaceousness.
Instead of a bread basket, crudites on ice are set out as you look over the menu. In the center is creamy spring onion-inflected mascarpone to dip the radishes, tomatoes and carrots into.
In one corner of the menu are five “bites” that are best eaten solo, rather than shared. The truffled deviled egg ($9) stands at attention in an egg cup, with stracchino cheese folded in, and shaved black truffle perched on top. The “Tiny Onion Soup” ($4) is presented in a small porcelain potager with plenty of melty cheese overtop. It may be small, but it packs real intensity with an explosion of umami. The “Saffron Boba” ($18) is warm tapioca pearls artfully served in a tilted stemless glass with chunks of succulent Maine lobster juxtaposed with preserved tomato for pops of sweetness and acidity. There’s something a inherently sensual about warm tapioca as it rolls around on the palate, and this is no exception.
Although I shared the hamachi crudo ($20) with three other people, I could have easily devoured the entire dish by myself. The silky fish is done up to the nines with tangy bright kumquats, cucumbers and radish sprouts. There’s a lilt of Spanish flair and smokiness from saffron and pimenton.
Although we paid our own tab, the kitchen sent out two pastas on the house, probably because my reputation as a carb lover precedes me. The Girasole ($24) is a stunner. The kale-pine nut-filled pasta sheet is rolled up like a cinnamon roll, and finished with lemon poppy seed butter, candied sunflower seeds, a touch of turmeric, and green soffrito. The filling is a bit like pesto, and the poppy seeds add an unexpected crunch here and there. The Caramelle ($24) are candy-shaped pasta with a creamy ricotta filling. Because of their appearance, you start thinking sweet automatically, and you get that subtly in form of saffron honey butter and huitlacoche caramel millet nuggets strewn over the top.
I can tell that shelter-in-place has left me rusty when it comes to taking photos at restaurants because I was so focused on snapping pics of all the other dishes that I completely forgot to take one of my own entree. That’s a shame, too, because the Campanelle Con Gamberi ($39) is rather showstopping with two colossal red Spanish Carabinieros (deep-sea prawns) splayed over the top of a mound of cone-shaped pasta with ruffled edges. At first, I feared the shell-on prawns would be cumbersome to eat. But the shells had already been split, so that all it took was a fork to handily extract the sweet, nearly lobster-like flesh. It’s a pasta dish with buttery goodness and loads of concentrated shrimp flavor.
The Snow Beef may have been beyond our pocketbooks. But the Long-Fed Angus Bone-On Ribeye at $75 was easier on the wallet. At 18-ounces, too, it was perfect to split among the four of us, especially since the kitchen had sliced the steak for us to share with ease. Tender, juicy, minerally, and smoky-charred tasting, the steak came garnished with escargot shells that held garlic butter. Scrape a little out to spread on the steak and dig in heartily.
The pork fried rice ($24) is meant to be an entree, but we shared it as a side, even topping it with a truffled sunnyside-up egg ($9). Made with toothsome Carnaroli, Calabrian sausage and Pecorino-Romano, it’s a fun Italian take on a staple Chinese dish.
The baked potato ($16) is an entire russet draped in Taleggio cheese, summer truffles, and truffle butter. The corn “Carbonara” ($12) is presented on the cob upright with a shower of Pecorino Romano, pancetta, black pepper and cooked egg yolk to mimic the traditional pasta dish. It’s a little hard to eat on the cob, especially since the topping tends to topple off. It’s better to use a knife to scrape the kernels off, then mix everything together to get a cohesive bite with your fork.
My favorite of the sides was hands-down the Yam Stones ($9). These are a must-order if you are a mochi fan. Yams are combined with mochiko flour to make gnocchi that are then fried and served atop truffled sour cream and dusted with fennel pollen. The sweet gnocchi are crispy on the outside, and wonderfully chewy within, thanks to the sweet rice flour.
For dessert, the Chocolate Flex ($15) is like a length of deep, dark, dense and rich chocolate ganache snaked on a plate with crunchy shingles of pistachio toffee, chopped pistachios, salted caramel, and orange curd. Alongside is a quenelle of malted brown butter gelato. The taste is reminiscent of a favorite See’s California Brittle, but much more chocolate forward.
Just as you were greeted with cups of broth at the start, you’re given chilled glasses of basil-blueberry probiotic afterward that are like a refreshing smoothie.
Rather than typical mignardises that come to the table, you’re handed a small cellophane bag at the end, and invited to help yourself to an assortment of wrapped Italian candies at a table at the center of the restaurant. Times being what they are, there are tongs to pick up the sweets, and even hand sanitizer nearby, if you need it.
Be.Steak.A is full of thoughtful touches and creations. It’s definitely a splurge meal. But given the enormity of what you survived this past year, you deserve a thoroughly pampering experience like this if you can.