DelMonico Steak & Beyond

DelMonico Steak & Beyond
NJ Town: Cedar Grove
Cuisine: Steakhouse

Enter through the rear. That’s what she said! Hahahaha. Okay, not funny. But neither is the fakeout DelMonico throws at you when you walk up to what feels like it should be the front door and there is some couple staring back at you wondering why you’re trying to open said door into the middle of their dinner. Also, that name? It makes it sound like a Toy Story spinoff. To steak and beyond! I kid, I kid. But, seriously, people know that steakhouses may have more than steak — especially in NJ where absolutely everything has Italian food of some stripe on the menu. No need to knock them over the head with it.

But the trick door and the questionable naming appendage aside, this is a bit of a find. Granted the friends who brought us here apparently roll over from Montclair all the time. But for the Hipster family, this was our first go at the steak, seafood and pasta hidden gem in Cedar Grove, the new hometown of one Aaron Rodgers. For some reason I came to a steakhouse with no real desire to eat steak. But apps are always appreciated. I think there was calamari (of course!) and some rock shrimp tempura. And maybe another thing or two. I tend to just kind of go with whatever the table wants and hope that it’s not olives, salted meats or some sort of weird pork dish. So this was right up my alley. And the apps were tasty and plentiful. I got French Onion soup. Because what lunatic wouldn’t?! Always the best.

So as I listened to my table order slab of meat after slab of meat, I focused on something my stomach wasn’t going to reject out of hand. I don’t know, a large chunk of flesh just wasn’t doing it for me mentally that day. So I went with rigatoni bolognese. Because I grew up with absolute garbage Italian food. Los Angeles was a wasteland when it came to any kind of cuisine that wasn’t Asian or Mexican back in the day. The pizza was trash. And they considered stupid sun dried tomatoes the height of Italian cooking. We mostly ordered pizza from a place called Numero Uno, which was a rip-off of the Chicago pizza rip-off, Pizzaria Uno. Or this candle-in-a-red-thing Italian joint, Barone’s, when I was a young kid. And then Maria’s and Louise’s when we moved from the Valley to the West Side. Point is, these places served what in retrospect was pretty inconsistent, poor excuses for pizza and Italian, despite the Maria’s people claiming to be Hoboken. So when I’m at a place in NJ or NYC that has Italian, I’m always tempted.

Anyhow, everyone got their steaks and sides. Cream spinach, fries, onion rings. All the trimmings. None of which really went with my meal, but a fry is a fry. My bolognese turned out to be more like baked ziti, or almost a lasagna. It was essentially rigatoni bolognese covered in melted cheese. Which, damn, I ain’t gonna complain about. In fact, the only complaining I did was after finishing and wondering why I’d stuffed myself so badly so as to practically make myself ill. To a person, though, the steaks got rave reviews. I saw the cook on all of them, and they were actually cooked medium rare, just as they should be. I don’t recall if Ms. Hipster did the porterhouse or the ribeye, but whatever it was was she gave me a taste and it was very good. The man whom I assume is the owner came over and chatted with us and was very nice. And clearly engaged with the restaurant and making sure people were being served good food. I did want to ask him about the funky interior of the place — and its seemingly dead-center-placed kitchen — but I was afraid I’d say too much when I quizzed him about the choice to create a false sense of normalcy with the faux front door. And, honestly, the space is a bit funky. It’s smaller than one might imagine from the outside and feels like perhaps the place was either once something not a restaurant, or else the worst architect in the world designed the restaurant. Whatever the case, everything was comfortable, the service was great. the food fantastic and the company the best!

505 Pompton Ave. – Cedar Grove