By Gina Ruccione, Cuisine and Restaurant Writer
I just broke up with a vegetarian. You could say we parted ways due to artistic differences: I saw meat as glorious and delicious and he— well, he did not. Dating him for the past two months was pleasant, but at the end of the day, food is my religion and I chose meat over man.
And so, in true Gina fashion (as I do after any breakup) I went on a rampage. I tore through the Harbor Area, eating at every steakhouse imaginable and then some. Every restaurant I graced with my presence was instructed to bring out the obligatory meat option. I was a ruthless carnivore. No sides. No salads. Every plate was devoured with the same fervor as a tempestuous one-night stand.
Here are some of the best places to grab a great hunk of meat in the harbor:
Chianina, the Italian style steakhouse, is brought to you by Michael’s Restaurant Group. It features their exclusive Chianina beef — one of the oldest breeds of cattle in the world. Several years ago, Michael’s Restaurant Group started breeding the cattle in Iowa. It currently reigns as the sole purveyor of Chianina beef in the United States. The finished product is a meat that is incredibly tender, lean and flavorful. Chianina reigns true as my favorite steakhouse in the Harbor Area, partly because I’m biased and tend to lean towards anything with Italian flare, but also because the food is amazing.
The interior is sleek and modern — a boutique-style steakhouse. The portions are appropriate. While they offer typical steakhouse sides, feel free to opt for their traditional Italian sides like risotto or fettuccine or their delicious seasonal veggies. Sit at the bar and let one of the bartenders craft you a cocktail. Then move onto the dinner menu.
From 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday nights, they offer a $32 three-course steak dinner, which you will not find anywhere else. Get on their email list for special events, exclusive dinners and seasonal menu changes. They feature great cocktail and wine dinners.
Chianina is at 5716 E. Second St. in Long Beach.
Details: (562) 434-2333; www.chianina.com
Think old-school, traditional style steakhouse boasting classic American dishes. 555 East Steakhouse is a mainstay in Long Beach. It is easily one of the most popular steakhouses for miles around with good reason. All steaks are USDA prime and corn fed for 150 days before they’re hand-cut, and then aged for 28 to 35 days. If you’re a meat eater and appreciate fine steak, then you get where I’m going with this. If you’ve dined there before, then you know they hardly need an introduction. They sear their steaks in a special broiler and then finish them with a mound of seasoned butter. The tableside Caesar salads and the chocolate soufflé with the molten center need not be forgotten. Indulge one and all.
555 East Steakhouse appropriately is at 555 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach.
Details: (562) 437-0626; www.555east.com
There is always a wait to get a table at Nick’s on 2nd in Belmont Shore in Long Beach, so unless you make a reservation, be prepared to hang out for a while. They operate under strict “spirit of excellence,” and they are very committed to maintaining a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Prices are reasonable and the menu is well rounded. The restaurant offers classic American comfort food. I find steak to be rather comforting, especially after a serious breakup, so I usually order the center cut filet mignon with steak butter and a loaded baked potato. I have never had a bad meal at Nick’s and according to the general reviews, neither has anyone else.
Nick’s on 2nd is at 4901 E. 2nd St. in Long Beach.
Details: (562) 856-9000;www.nicksrestaurants.com
Think Prime is known for its extensive Happy Hour menu, which they offer everyday of the week. If you live in San Pedro or anywhere else for that matter and you haven’t been to Think Prime, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to indulge in one of the 32 items offered on its Happy Hour menu. From 4:30 to 7 p.m. (and all day Monday) cocktails and snacks are abounds. Oysters Rockefeller, shrimp scampi, the huge tower of onion rings and cevapcici, the Croatian style meatballs, are among the most popular dishes for snacking before indulging in one of their huge bone-in ribeye steaks.
Think Prime is at 29601 Western Ave. in Rancho Palos Verdes
Details: (310) 220-0415; www.thinkprimesteakhouse.com
A member of the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association, Gina Ruccione has traveled throughout Europe and Asia and has lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County. You can visit her website at www.foodfashionfoolishfornication