Tucked away in the northern New Jersey town of Little Falls, Rare The Steak House is an old school Italian steakhouse. When I say “old school”, I mean that in the best possible way. The place features a busy lounge area and a dark wood, masculine décor that I enjoy in a steakhouse.
Rare The Steak House is sister restaurant to Il Tulipano, a well-known catering facility owned by the Polimeni family that has been serving New Jersey special events for the last 30 years. To the delight of long-time patrons of Il Tulipano, its popular pastas are offered at Rare.
The staff at Rare is friendly and professional and greets guests with the presentation of a giant tray featuring equally giant cuts of meats – ribeye, filet, strip, veal chop and gorgeous applewood-smoked slab bacon.
Shortly after being seated, our waiter brought a basket of good-quality breads served with a dish of butter sitting on ice and flavorful bruschetta. What a special way to begin a meal!
The starters we enjoyed are the Sautéed Lump Crab Cake ($18), Rare Fries ($7), Iceberg Lettuce with House Roquefort Dressing ($7) and Shrimp Arrabiata, a special of the night. The crab cake is indeed “lumped” with big pieces of sweet crab. It’s paired with housemade horseradish tartare sauce that’s really quite fabulous. The Rare Fries are tossed with truffle oil and Parmesan and it’d be difficult to pull away from the bowl after just a couple. The classic wedge salad is not only topped with housemade blue cheese dressing, it’s also sprinkled with morsels of perfectly cooked slab bacon. The shrimp Arrabiata was a nightly special featuring rock shrimp lightly fried with a spicy coating.
For our entrées, we opted for the nightly specials – Dover Sole and Lasagna Bolognese and the 28-ounce Prime Rib Chop “The Ultimate Cowboy Steak” ($40) and Rack of Lamb Brushed with Mustard and Breadcrumbs ($30). The Dover sole is served whole and presented to the table before being expertly fileted and served by the wait staff. It’s light and moist and served with a lemon, garlic butter sauce that’s a bit addicting. The lasagna featured a flavorful tomato sauce and served in a sizeable portion. The aroma that exuded from the cowboy steak as it was brought to the table would have caused any red blooded carnivore to glaze over with beefy lust. While it was more medium-well than medium-rare, the 30-day aged meat was rich and decadent. The rack of lamb was beautifully cooked to a slightly charred exterior and a rare interior. Both the steak and lamb are served with baked plum tomatoes with breadcrumb topping – classic all the way.
While guests are savoring their meals, a push cart makes its way throughout the dining room. On this cart are homemade desserts of all shapes and sizes prepared at Il Tulipano. There’s even a gigantic bowl of colossal strawberries with a side bowl of whipped cream. Rare also serves creamy, dreamy gelato that our party sampled in three varieties: mint chocolate chunk, butter pecan and chocolate.
The dining room was busy while we dined at Rare with a mix of fun-loving regulars and what some might describe as “Soprano-like”. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the mostly-masculine crowd and thought it added to the old-school vibe of the place.
For aged steaks, classic accompaniments, outstanding service and a comfortable atmosphere, give Rare The Steak House a try.
440 Main Street
Little Falls, NJ 07424
Phone: (973) 256-6699
Veronique Deblois, Food & Wine Chickie: Veronique is a food and wine writer based in Morris County, NJ. As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews and insight into the travel industry of which she’s a 15-year veteran. Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.