You can start calling it a restaurant empire. Luke Palladino, owner of his eponymous gourmet Italian restaurant at Harrah’s Resort, Luke’s Kitchen & Marketplace at Revel Casino Hotel and Luke Palladino Seasonal Italian Cooking in Linwood (see sidebar), now owns a steakhouse: LP Steak in Northfield.
Located in the former Plaza 9 Shopping Center space that housed the Italian eatery that relocated to Linwood, LP Steak proves you don’t have to go into Atlantic City for a great steak.
“I think we just needed a steakhouse offshore,” Palladino says. “Unless you count Outback, you can’t find a steakhouse unless you drive into Atlantic City. And then when you do that, you can’t get a good bottle of wine for less than $100, you have to pay for parking and it’s just going to be a more expensive night out. We have great cuts, better quality and you can bring that bottle of cabernet you have been saving and come drink it with us. I don’t really know of any BYO steakhouses that exist. So that’s a unique thing we offer that people can take advantage of.”
Palladino says he always wanted to have his own steakhouse and actually had a few planned with some casinos before the poor economy derailed them.
“I love steak and I think I bring a unique approach the steakhouse,” Palladino says. “And when I decided to move the Italian restaurant from Northfield to Linwood, it just made sense to have a steakhouse. I didn’t want to do a low-end Italian restaurant or another kind of Italian. And there is no crossover. I think Italian should be Italian and steak should be steak.”
Using Angus cuts for the 12-ounce, dry-aged New York strip ($39), 10-ounce filet ($45), 2-pound dry-aged ribeye for two ($80) and the signature 5-pound Tuscan porterhouse for four to six people ($165), Palladino believes in quality meat cooked simply.
“We are only 30 seats, and steaks are high-cost, protein items, so we really wanted to make sure what we had on our menu were the right steaks,” Palladino says. “I think we have the right variety and the right quality. The 10-ounce filet is ridiculous. The strip is dry-aged 32 to 40 days. When the steak purveyor comes to me, he has to bring a lot because I send a lot back. They have to be perfect. I hand-select them to make sure they have the right marbling and just look perfect. Then we butcher them ourselves.”
Palladino’s commitment to quality is further accentuated by the 8-ounce Masami Farms American Kobe flatiron steak ($29) and the to-die-for Masami Farms “Spinalis” ribeye cap ($45), which is also Wagyu, American Kobe.
“I wanted a great Kobe cut, and Masami is a farm north of San Francisco that is a Japanese company that came from Kobe, Japan, and brought the pure breed with them and raise the cattle here,” Palladino says. “The flat iron steak is just a great cut. If you do research, you will see most places charge $45 to $50 for it. We charge $29. That’s the value of our whole menu because we want people to have that experience.”
The most-talked-about steak on Palladino’s menu may end up being the 5-pound porterhouse, which can be ordered in advance and takes about 45 minutes to cook.
“It’s rare to see a steak that large,” Palladino says. “We put it out for display and people see it and get it to share with four people or so. The sear and color and curst on it is so great because of how long it takes to cook. We dry rub it and it sits for two days before we sell it. And we won’t cook it more than medium.”
The steaks can be accompanied by seven signature sauces ($3), including the must-try green peppercorn cognac and Maytag blue cheese “Soubise,” as well as the LP Steak Sauce, a thick, tomato-based sauce that is certainly different than what most diners usually encounter.
“Our steak sauce is pretty unique because it’s made with green peppercorn, garlic, anchovies, tomato paste and saba (grape reduction) and it’s thick, which is the consistency I like on my steak, plus it’s rich and intense,” Palladino says.
The meat isn’t the only reason to hit LP Steak. Diners can go super casual with items such as the dry-aged burger deluxe ($16) hand made from steak trimmings and served with Tallegio cheese, house-made thick-cut pickles, LP secret sauce and brioche toast; check out a seasonal items like this month’s pan-fried pork schnitzel ($26) with creamed wild mushrooms, prosciutto and sage; check out veal specials such as veal Francaise ($28); or check out seafood entrees that include 1½-pound poached Maine lobster ($34) stuffed with jumbo lump crab or scallops “Amandine” ($29) with brown butter and marcona almonds.
“In my Italian restaurant, 70 percent of what I sell is pasta and fish,” Palladino says. “So while people love steak, you have to have a other options, including fish and seafood. So other than our menu items, we will always have a scaled fish like salmon or tilefish as our daily fish. And I can’t urge people enough to try the burger. It’s made with the Kobe trimmings, the dry-aged sirloin trimmings, the filet trimmings … you can’t get a more decadent burger.”
No steakhouse, however, is worth its salt without having killer appetizers. And LP Steak has that more than covered with handcrafted pierogies ($12) filled with farmers cheese and made with caramelized onions, sage and brown butter; foie gras in a pot ($12) that has a creamy consistency and is topped with port wine jam; oysters casino ($14), which is a play on the clams classic with smoked pancetta and panko crumbs; and the showstopper “Real” potato skins ($12), which are scooped-out potato skins fried crispy and topped with truffle cheese fondue, house-made smoked bacon and scallion crème fraiche.
“We are Italian, so we can’t get away from pasta, so we went to Eastern Europe for the pierogies,” Palladino says with a laugh. “We had fun with our apps. The potato skins are just killer. You can’t get good potato skins anywhere. They are just greasy messes. So one day we were making gnocchi at the Italian restaurant and we were scooping out potatoes and had a pile of skins. So I took them and fried them, and I was like, ‘Wow! These are rocking.’ So I put some cheese and pancetta on them and made a meal for my staff. And they thought they were awesome. So when the steakhouse came about, they made perfect sense. Whatever we do, we always want to have our unique spin on things. We are not gimmicky or trendy, but we like to have fun. Our crab cakes ($13), for example, are crusted with crunched-up Ruffles potato chips, pretzels and Ritz crackers. And they are amazing.”
Sides will also change seasonally and currently include shaved Brussels sprouts ($7) with pancetta, leeks and wild mushrooms, which originally debuted with fresh Jersey corn when the steakhouse opened; onion rings ($7); Idaho wedge fries ($7) that can be topped with truffle wiz for $3 more; and whole scalloped potato parmesan ($9) with chedar, sour cream, smoked bacon and scallions. On a recent night, patrons were treated to fresh butternut squash gratin, which was prepared with cream, star anise and nutmeg and layered with cheese and baked.
Since Palladino can’t be at all four locations at once, he trusts Executive Chef Sean Holmes to lead the steakhouse to the same acclaim Palladino’s other restaurants have achieved.
“He worked with us at Borgata and traveled around and worked with Stephen Starr in Philadelphia, and we have been talking and I wanted to bring him to the steakhouse because I thought he was a perfect fit,” Palladino says. “He’s talented, has good technique and skills, comes up with great ideas and is just so passionate. And I needed a great solder, and he is certainly that.”
Designer Scott Eccard once again did a fabulous job transforming the restaurant from its previous Italian concept to a steakhouse. The curtains that once separated the dining room from the kitchen are gone, replaced by two short walls that keep the kitchen open. The white and black theme has been converted to more masculine reds and grays. And the chandeliers feature deer antlers, perfectly accenting the wood tables and black-and-white artwork with red accents.
“I think we have everything needed for us to be considered one of the best steakhouses in the area,” Palladino says. “We are excited about the future.”
Luke Palladino Seasonal Italian Cooking moves to Linwood
If you’re looking for Luke Palladino Seasonal Italian Cooking, which was located where the new LP Steakhouse is, you don’t have to drive too far to find it, and you will be happy when you do.
Now located in Central Square in Linwood in the former Roman Grill and Barrel’s location, Luke Palladino Seasonal Italian Cooking doubles in size to 60 seats, features a cool bar to have a drink before dinner - remember to bring your own, though, since there is no liquor license - and offers ample, easy parking.
Designer Scott Eccard threw away the black-and-white theme of the former location and uses a black theme that comes to life with art accents, a gorgeous feature wall made out of wood and a fireplace.
The menu, while maintaining many of the signature dishes that made Luke Palladino Seasonal Italian Cooking popular remain, but the larger kitchen allows Palladino to expand the menu.
“We have a wider variety of everything, from hot and cold appetizers to more pasta and entrees,” Palladino says. “We added a couple of items to each part of the menu.”
The new location, featuring Executive Chef Earl Parker, also allows Luke Palladino Seasonal Italian Cooking to be open for lunch, featuring antipasti, appetizers, entrees, soups and salads, pasta, sandwiches and panini.
“When we offered takeout lunch in Northfield, people really wanted to dine in, so we know there is a need for lunch,” Palladino says. “I am very cost conscious, and we are using all of the best breads and meats. Sandwiches start at $8. We have a prime rib sandwich for $9.50 that has six ounces of real prime rib. We have a salad with beautiful albacore tuna for 13 bucks. I want people to have a high-quality lunch without breaking the bank.”
Luke Palladino Seasonal Italian Cooking is located at 60 Central Square, Linwood. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays to Fridays for lunch, 5 to 9:30 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays for dinner, and 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays for dinner. Call 609-926-3030 or go to LukePalladino.com.