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Cover Story

Old Favorites, New Specials Inspire Patrons

By Ali Resich Photos By ANTHONY CONSILLIO
April 3, 2016

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Assistant manager Ryan Hisatake, general manager Zyron Schoniwitz and executive chef Erwin Manzano

Assistant manager Ryan Hisatake, general manager Zyron Schoniwitz and executive chef Erwin Manzano

Since December 2001, Hawaii residents have been able to “meat and greet” just what makes fine dining at Morton’s The Steakhouse so exceptional — that is, of course, superb steaks, but also an unrivaled blend of wine, upscale American cuisine and first-rate customer service.

Upon entering the secluded restaurant in Ala Moana Center’s Ewa Wing, you might think you’ve been transported to a classic steak house in New York or Chicago, complete with crisp white tablecloths and Art Deco design details. Once you are met with the unmistakable island hospitality of the waitstaff, however, you’ll feel the aloha spirit Morton’s exudes. Executive chef Erwin Manzano, of Hawaii Mission Academy; general manager Zyron Schoniwitz, a Mililani High grad; and assistant manager Ryan Hisatake, who went to Castle High School, make patrons feel right at home.

Their mesmerizing menu is all sizzle and plenty of steak, as Morton’s only serves the pinnacle of USDA Prime meat. These top-rated cuts must meet the eatery’s strict standards to be served, and they go through a three-to four-week temperature-controlled wet-aging process for optimal tenderness, richness and texture.

Grilled Oysters with garlic herb butter ($19, on special from April 4)

Grilled Oysters with garlic herb butter ($19, on special from April 4)

Schoniwitz says kamaaina guests are partial to the filet mignon and USDA Prime ribeye. That’s why the Bone-in Filet Mignon ($67) currently on special is ideal for local taste buds. This 14-ounce double-cut piece is broiled to order and features the most coveted of tender and subtly sweet meat along the bone.

Morton’s supplements its meaty selections with a slew of steak-house favorites that receive the same care and attention as its beef. Diners enjoy seafood-filled appetizers, salads, elegant entrees, classic sides such as Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes and Creamed Spinach, and swanky cocktails and desserts. The restaurant also frequently introduces sumptuous specials, the latest of which will be available tomorrow (April 4) until Sept. 30. “Our longtime regulars have their favorite menu items, and this gives them an opportunity to have something really special on a regular basis,” Schoniwitz explains, when commenting on the new offerings.

Lobster Mac & Cheese ($25, by request only)

Lobster Mac & Cheese ($25, by request only)

These limited-time bites include melt-in-your-mouth Grilled Oysters with garlic herb butter ($19, half dozen), a refreshing Heart of Palm Salad ($13), and Olive-crusted Alaskan Halibut ($41), perfect for the main course. As for dessert, don’t miss out on Blueberry Bread Pudding with bourbon white chocolate ganache ($11).

Whether featured as a special or on the regular menu, seafood selections at Morton’s always are considered winners. As an inside scoop for Dining Out readers, Schoniwitz divulges that Lobster Mac & Cheese in particular is a must. Though not officially on the menu, the dish is available by request for $25 and presents irresistible curls of cavatappi pasta gently folded with a four-cheese sauce and 4 ounces of fresh Maine lobster meat. On top, panko bread crumbs and shredded cheese seal the deal on this oven-finished creation.

Seasonal special Bone-in Filet Mignon ($67, 14 ounces)

Seasonal special Bone-in Filet Mignon ($67, 14 ounces)

While excellent for any supper, Morton’s also is perfect for hosting large groups. “We have two comfortable yet stately private dining rooms/boardrooms that are internationally acclaimed for our signature menu, ambiance and legendary ‘Morton’s hospitality,'” notes Schoniwitz. “Your guests are assured of an unparalleled dining experience, with select USDA Prime aged beef, the freshest seafood, luscious desserts and an exceptional wine list to choose from.”

The private dining rooms are both equipped with built-in screens, lighting options and versatile floor plans to fit your needs for groups large and small. “In addition, our larger room is equipped with surround sound speakers, a built-in LCD projector and CD/DVD player, and iPod connectivity and private-broadcasting capabilities are available for your convenience,” he adds.

  • 2-3% produced in America gets the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Prime rating — and Morton’s only serves Prime.
  • 45 people can be accommodated in private Boardroom A, while 25 can be seated in Boardroom B. When connected, they seamlessly welcome up to 72 guests.
  • 1978 When the first Morton’s opened in Chicago
  • There are now 69+ restaurants around the country, and in Canada, Mexico City and Asia

Wonderful Wagyu

Morton’s introduces a succulent slab special April 4 that defines flawless: American Wagyu ($79). This domestic version of Kobe beef showcases 8 ounces of Japanese Wagyu Breed crossed with high-quality Angus Steer. The steak is graded SRF Black by reputable beef brand Snake River Farms, with a high BMS (Beef Marbling Standard) rating of 6 to 8. “The meat is 100 percent natural, with no added hormones, and is wet aged 28 to 35 days for improved flavor and texture. Each N.Y. strip is hand cut by a master butcher,” adds general manager Zyron Schoniwitz.

Morton’s The Steakhouse

Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu
949-1300
Monday-Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5-11 p.m.; Sunday, 5-10 p.m.
Bar open daily from 4:45 p.m; power hour food and drink specials also available
Mortons.com