The Classic American SteakhouseCover Story Features
June 23, 2013
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel
It’s easy to see why Morton’s The Steak-house is considered the classic American steakhouse. With locations that span the globe, this award-winning restaurant — which first opened its doors in Chicago in 1978 — has had years to perfect its recipes and procedures. The alluring aromas of grilled steaks emanate from Morton’s open kitchen and awaken your senses, while you are met with prompt and courteous customer service, and exceptional value.
Most recently, Dining Out paid a visit to Morton’s The Steakhouse at Ala Moana Center and shared a feast with general manager Zyron Schoniwitz, who previously has received top honors as Morton’s general manager of the year. Amid porterhouse steak and filet mignon masterpieces, sumptuous bar bites and appetizers, and decadent desserts, we reveled in all that is Morton’s The Steakhouse.
DO: Over the years, Morton’s The Steakhouse has been a staple on the international dining scene. What is the restaurant’s philosophy?
Schoniwitz: Our philosophy is to provide guests with the ultimate dining experience. We specialize in USDA prime-aged beef, but the overall package we present to our guests — customer service, hospitality and the dining environment — is key and all up to par with our acclaimed cuisine.
DO: Who is Morton’s clientele?
Schoniwitz: Our clientele is a broad range of people. On one table you can have a business group, and at the next table you can have a family celebrating a birthday, then at another table you can have a couple celebrating an anniversary. We cater to special occasions. For instance, for intimate anniversary dinners, we personalize the menus, decorate the table and our guests receive a complimentary souffle for dessert. We also have private dining rooms that can hold up to 72 people.
However, we really like to focus on our kamaaina. It’s nice to have that local touch. Here in Hawaii, we definitely possess the aloha spirit — everyone on our staff is very warm and friendly. We strongly believe in building relationships and taking care of our guests.
DO: Executive chef Jean Pierre Maharibatcha makes magic in the kitchen. When did he join the Morton’s ohana?
Schoniwitz: Chef came on board about six months ago and has been a wonderful addition to our team. He’s an award-winning chef, classically trained in France and has more than 35 years of culinary experience.
DO: Morton’s features generous portions of premier cuts of beef, succulent seafood, classic steakhouse sides and desserts. What dishes are making mouths water?
Schoniwitz: Currently, we are offering a Steak and Seafood Special ($59.99 per guest) that our patrons love. It’s a set menu, which features a choice of salad (Caesar Salad, Chopped Spinach Salad, Morton’s Salad), entree (Filet Mignon), choice of seafood (Broiled Sea Scallops, Jumbo Shrimp Alexander, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, 5-ounce Canadian Lobster Tail), choice of side item (asparagus, broccoli, baked or mashed potatoes, french fries, etc.), choice of dessert (Morton’s Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Pie or creme Brulee). It’s an unbeatable value.
A prelude to any meal often begins with an appetizer, and I recommend Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella ($14) served atop a bed of watercress salad and accented with a balsamic glazed and grated Parmesan cheese.
Top dinner items include Porterhouse Steak ($61), a 24-ounce USDA prime, which is the best of both worlds — filet mignon and New York steak — and is very tender and juicy; Cajun Ribeye Steak ($51) coated with Cajun spices and marinated in a light oil for 24 to 48 hours; and Center-Cut Filet Mignon, a summer favorite that’s very lean, tender and extremely flavorful.
DO: Stellar desserts complete a spectacular meal. What sweet sensations do you recommend?
Schoniwitz: Definitely Morton’s Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake ($14.50), which oozes with a warm liquid center of rich chocolate.
The cake is topped with powdered sugar and morsels of raspberries. Another renowned dessert is New York Cheesecake ($12) topped with caramelized sugar and paired with sliced strawberries.
DO: Delicious! Happy Hour attracts diners here as well, correct? We’ve heard great things about the bar bites!
Schoniwitz: Yes. Happy hour runs from 4:45 to 6:30 p.m. and from 9 p.m. to closing every day except Saturday. Our bar bites are a big draw, especially favorites such as Prime Cheeseburgers ($15 regular, $7 happy hour), three mini cheeseburgers each served with 3-ounce beef patties, topped with melted Cheddar cheese, onion, lettuce and tomatoes on freshly toasted buns; Parmesan Truffle Matchstick Fries ($13 regular, $6 happy hour), Tuna Tacos ($14 regular, $7 happy hour) and Steak Tacos ($14 regular, $7 happy hour). We also have a fully stocked bar with a wide variety of beer, wines, cocktails and martinis. We always want to personalize every dining experience, so some of our regular guests even have their very own wine lockers.
DO: What sets Morton’s apart from other steakhouses?
Schoniwitz: Two things: quality and consistency. The quality of our products is the finest available, and there’s a great attention to detail in everything that we do. We always start with the best, highest quality product, and that’s USDA prime aged beef, grain-fed and aged twoand-a half to three weeks. Then, we have a special cooking process, in which our steaks are lightly seasoned with our special blend of seasonings and then cooked to perfection in our 1,100to 1,300-degree oven. When you start with the best-quality beef, the end result is likely to be amazing as well. We finish it off with our house au jus. When you have high-quality beef, you don’t want to do too much to it — the beef speaks for itself. We also really focus on value, we give our guests a compelling reason to come back. Our goal is to ensure that our guests are totally happy. It takes a team to run a successful restaurant, and I love the excitement and energy of working at Morton’s.
Morton’s The Steakhouse
Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
Monday-Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 5-11 p.m.
Sunday, 5-10 p.m.
Note: Reservations recommended. Private luncheons are available and the bar is open at 4:30 p.m. nightly.