The Mastro Brothers Debut Steak 48 in Chicago's River North
Arguably one of the country’s most recognized names in steakhouse culture—the Mastros—have introduced their Steak 48 brand to Chicago (615 N. Wabash), which opened on July 14 in the bustling River North neighborhood.
Established in 2014, Steak 48 is owned and operated by brothers Jeffrey and Michael Mastro, their father Dennis Mastro, and partner Scott Troilo. Working for the Mastro family for more than 25 years, restaurant veteran Oliver Badgio also serves as chief brand officer and has already become active in Chicago’s civic, philanthropic and social scene since construction began last year. Together, the group currently owns and operates a trio of successful fine dining steakhouses, including Dominick’s Steakhouse and Steak 44 in Phoenix, and Steak 48 in Houston which successfully opened in summer 2016. Over the years, the team created and developed several Mastro’s Steakhouses and Ocean Club seafood hotspots in Arizona and California, before selling the brand in 2007. Named as a subtle nod to their home state of Arizona being 48th state to join the Union, Steak 48 is an exciting new chapter for the Mastro team and represents a refreshing approach and more gentle and interesting interpretation of the classic American steakhouse.
“We are incredibly grateful and truly humbled to bring our Steak 48 concept to Chicago, the steakhouse capital of the world,” says Jeffrey Mastro. “We all loved what we built together over the years with our former restaurant concept and have fond memories of that time. Now we are having a lot of fun bringing this new concept to life using all of our past learnings and also re-defining the guest experience. Our Steak 48 locations have done very well in Arizona and Texas and we’re excited to introduce it to discerning Chicagoans who certainly know their steak. Much like a new home, we really see this restaurant as a perfect reflection of who we are today.”
Steak 48 was created to differ from the steakhouse of pure tradition, which tends to collectively embody the same general blueprint. When developing Steak 48, the Mastro team was thoughtful in every detail to make their new concept something that diners wouldn’t anticipate or expect of a traditional steakhouse. While at its core, it’s a classic American steakhouse, Steak 48 features bold art, an intimate, sexy layout and design with luxury personal service that ensures diners receive an experience that is surprisingly unexpected yet approachable for a variety of occasions and guests.
“After years of learning from our guests, Mike and Jeff chose to build this restaurant on the core foundation of kindness, consideration and true hospitality,” says Badgio. “We know our guests can go anywhere they want for dinner and when they choose us that is a compliment that we do not take for granted. We focus strongly on the totality of the experience, taking care of our guests from start to finish to make sure everyone enjoys the best quality food with top-notch service that is always genuine and sincere.”
Diners will appreciate a two-level floor plan that offers quiet nooks for intimate dinners to larger spaces that serve up an energetic vibe. The restaurant’s contemporary aesthetic is stunning within the bi-level 12,000-square-foot space, dressed in high contrasting palates of white, gray and brown and a splash of color with authentic real woods and natural materials. Guests can choose between the vibrant bar on the first floor and the reservation only dining bar on the second floor, an 800-square-foot outdoor patio with two fire places and lush greenery on the second floor high above the bustling crowds on Wabash, or sit within multiple dining room areas separated into intimate jewel-box like spaces.
Steak 48’s ground floor houses a unique collection of semi-private dining suites featuring floor to ceiling glass allowing diners a great view into the kitchen to watch all the action. Design signatures include the one-of-a-kind glass expo kitchen, a 3,000-bottle wine vault in the entryway, a display wall of antique cleavers and personal touches hand-tailored by Judith Testani of Scottsdale-based Testani Design Troupe, such as sleek custom-designed furniture, eclectic light fixtures and original irreverent artwork featuring Chicago landmarks. Guests of all ages will also pay attention to the fun and energetic classic playlist personally curated by Michael Mastro.
But what is a restaurant without the food? At the helm of the kitchen is Executive Chef Brian Key (Gibson’s, Weber Grill), with support from Corporate Executive Chef Marc Lupino, who leads Prime Steak Concepts’ culinary program and has been part of the team since the early 2000s. Guests can enjoy a wide variety of high-quality menu items to suit any individual preference, featuring the very best in USDA prime steaks, seafood and shellfish, accompanied by unique appetizers and inventive side dishes. Key and Lupino source locally-grown ingredients whenever possible, going great lengths to ensure all products are the best they can be or they don’t put it on their menu.
To offer unique cuts and to honor special requests, Steak 48 operates a 40-degree cooled butcher shop in-house where the master butchers cut daily. The 28-day wet-aged steaks are cut by hand and sent to the kitchen’s 1800-degree broiler. The restaurant proudly features the very best in prime steaks responsibly farmed and sourced from reserves in Michigan and Wisconsin, in addition to ultra-premium Wagyu beef sourced from Mishima Reserve. Cuts are available in multiple sizes, expertly cooked to perfection and beautifully presented on a sizzling 500-degree plate to maintain temperature throughout the meal. Steak 48 is also all about giving their diners options. Steak lovers can choose between eight unique toppings such as Green Peppercorn, Chef Style Burrata and Black Truffle Sautéed Lobster, to name only a few.
The bold and comprehensive menu also includes decadent pork chops from White Marble Farms and tender veal from Markham Farm. Wild-caught seafood is flown in daily from top fisheries throughout the world, including sustainable salmon from Scotland’s Shetland Island. The raw bar, beautifully displayed for guests on a bed of ice, features super colossal shrimp, Alaskan king crab, Maine lobster and freshly shucked East and West Coast oysters. In addition, the expansive menu offers generous portions of chef-inspired appetizers like Prime Steakhouse Meatballs, Pokè and Fried Deviled Eggs, great salads such as the Superfood Salad complete with locally-sourced produce, an ample variety of mouth-watering side dishes like Chef Brain’s Au Gratin Potatoes, Alaskan King Crab and Rock Shrimp Mac & Cheese, Asparagus Fries and many other interesting options designed to share with the table, and the most tempting desserts including Steak 48’s signature (off the menu) beignets tree complete with a warm Nutella Sauce and Vanilla Crème Anglaise and served on an artistic tree structure.
It’s no secret that Chicago has a multitude of amazing steakhouses to choose from in nearly every neighborhood. However, the abundance is a simple reflection of the demand. For Steak 48, it was a natural fit to expand to the Chicago market. The Mastro team recognizes, that more than ever before, diners are truly looking for the complete package. Steak 48 plans to offer just that—the perfect marriage of great food, drink, service, ambiance and guest experience with the hope to be one more great reason for Chicagoans and visitors alike to go out and enjoy a fantastic dinner this great City.
In advance of its opening on July 14th, Steak 48 hosted five preview evenings where 100 percent of check proceeds supported five Chicago causes including Blessings in a Backpack, the Joffrey Ballet, the Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Foundation, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.