1. Pappas Bros.

Pappas_4.jpg Pappas Bro's porterhouse steak. Photography by Kevin Marple

Overall Score: 94.37

10477 Lombardy Ln.

Steak: All of the steaks, except filets, at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse are dry aged and seasoned with kosher salt, pepper, and butter. Both steaks had crunchy char on top, and there was quite a bit of excess butter on the plate. Scores: filet (12 oz., $43.95) 97, bone-in rib-eye (22 oz., $48.95) 97

Service: The service was impeccable, from the second we sat down until the valet brought our car around at the end of the night. There was a 35-minute gap between the salad and steak course. Not overly friendly, at times fussy, but memorable. 93

Wine sell: Our server asked if we’d be having wine, and as soon as we said yes, he sent for a sommelier. There are four on staff: two certified, one advanced, and Master Sommelier Barbara Werley. Our sommelier Heather Green’s eyes lit up when we asked for something funky. “Funky? Do you prefer a Sangiovese-Merlot blend or Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah style?” We picked the former. “I have something from Arizona, and I think it is just for you.” She returned with an Arizona Stronghold Mangus 2009, a really interesting medium-body wine from Southeastern Arizona’s Cochise County priced at $50. The owner of the winery is Maynard James Keenan, the singer for the edgy band Tool. She hit the mark. We got a funky, medium-body, unusual wine for $25 under budget. 100

Pappas_5.jpg Pappas Bro's chocolate toffee turtle pie. Photography by Kevin Marple

Shrimp: Five shrimp are served on a cold plate with avocado and spring onion. The ends of the shrimp are dipped like pink pens into a not-so-spicy red sauce. Since there were three of us, the waiter added an extra so we’d each have two. We thought it was a nice touch until we got the bill and saw that we had been charged for the extra. (U-16-20, $12.95) 94

Salads: The steakhouse salad is a must-order. The flavors of diced apples and bits of fresh oranges collide with hearty Roquefort and candied almonds. 93

Vegetables: Simply steamed haricots verts tossed in butter. 85

Potatoes: The skillet potatoes were not a match for the macaroni and cheese with giant lumps of fresh crabmeat. Oh, the cheeses—Havarti, white cheddar, Parmesan, and Swiss. 93 

Dessert: I found the gooey pecan pie too gooey and the chocolate toffee turtle pie rimmed with crushed Oreos too sweet, but I was in the minority at my table. 88 

Ambiance: I really prefer to sit in the back room by the fireplace. The ceiling is low, and there is a nice vibe. The main dining room is more white-tablecloth formal but attractive. 94

2. Nick & Sam’s

NickAndSams_2.jpg Nick & Sam's Chtâeaubriand. Photography by Kevin Marple

Overall Score: 94.33

3008 Maple Ave.

Steak: If you can’t find a particular cut of steak on or off the regular menu at Nick & Sam’s, you are one hard-to-please carnivore. Some of the larger steaks appear to have been butchered by Fred Flintstone. Scores: filet (10 oz., $38) 97, Châteaubriand bone-in (22 oz., $140) 98

Service: Focused, friendly, and professional. Even though the dining room was packed, our server did not leave the table until he’d explained the whole menu. He brought out a platter with raw steaks and detailed the qualities of each and the best temperature to order them. He advised us to split the salads. He could have sold sand to the Saudis. One quibble: he sold us the Châteaubriand without mentioning the price. It is $140. 93 

Wine sell: Without being asked, he offered us three of his favorite wines, each a California Cabernet over $150. After he listened to our request, he didn’t jump to Pinot Noir; he recommended Tignanello, a super-Tuscan at $220. Feeling like a frugal little old lady, I repeated my $75 limit. Flustered, he flipped the page and said, “Here’s a Damilano Barolo for $81. Any kind of Barolo is going to be the best Italy has to offer.” 80

Shrimp: Sophisticated, stacked presentation of three fresh, sweet shrimp served with pools of orange lobster tartar sauce and Bloody Mary cocktail sauce. (U-6-8, $14) 98

Salads: One huge chopped salad was divided in the kitchen and served as three generous portions. It was full of romaine, eggs, chunks of Maine lobster, and hearts of palm; tossed in buttermilk ranch dressing; and topped with thin, soft, fried onions. 95 

Vegetables: Caramelized onions marsala and sautéed mushrooms. 95 

Potatoes: The potatoes au gratin were nice, but use your calories wisely and order the miraculous lobster macaroni and cheese. 95 

Dessert: Obscene triangular portions of four thick layers of carrot and chocolate cake. A half order is 6 inches thick. Both are excellent and will be in your refrigerator for days. 96

Ambiance: Sexy, dark, and clubby. Love the piano in the open kitchen, and owner Phil Romano’s softy lit, bright oil paintings bestow bold contemporary accents. Did we mention the complimentary caviar trolley in the bar? 98