4. Delmonico’s (1837)
When it comes to expensive meats, right up there with Wagyu is the Delmonico steak. The dish got its name from the restaurant of the same name that sits at the bottom of a Financial District canyon on Beaver Street. Delmonico’s claims to be the first fine dining restaurant in the entire country. It was opened by the Delmonico brothers in 1837 and gained a reputation as an elite establishment offering private dining rooms and the largest wine cellar in the city to those who could afford it.
Delmonico’s credits Charles Ranhofer, its executive chef during the Civil War era, with creating such American classics as baked Alaska, lobster Newburg, chicken a la Keene, and apparently eggs benedict. This last claim has incurred some controversy regarding who was responsible for the birth of the classic brunch dish. The idea, originally meant to cure a hangover, is attributed to both Ranhofer and the Waldorf Astoria chef Oscar Tschirky.
The Delmonico steak itself, originally meaning whatever the cut of the evening was in the restaurant, is now typically a boneless rib-eye, cut thick and served without brushing, a purist mentality. It’s known as a “black and red” steak, or charred on the outside but medium rare on the inside, a difficult combo for chefs to pull off. If you’re a steak lover, or even just a fan of the dishes that were born here, Delmonico’s is your perfect dining experience.