By Linda Kissam
We have plenty of good steakhouses in sunny SoCal. In fact, California is always receiving one accolade or another as one of the best steak-serving states in the nation. We’re famous for our succulent beef, great atmosphere and some of the best dining perks around. With plenty of sun, surf and celebrities, particularly in the SoCal area, we certainly seem to have it all. So with all that fame and fortune heaped upon us, is there really a need for yet another steakhouse? Yup. Meet Chianina (pronounced key-a-neen-ah).
I would have thought the next big-thing steakhouse would have landed in LA or Newport Beach. Nope. It’s in full bloom in Long Beach. Not downtown Long Beach; think the beachy corridor between Belmont Shores and Seal Beach often referred to as Naples… and it is going to rock your meat-lovin’ taste buds to the max.
Sexy Vibe with a Gourmet Bling
Everything a steakhouse aficionado loves is there. It’s dark, cool…breathy almost. No ocean views or starfish on the wall. Think little-black dress sexy with a big touch of gourmet food bling.
You’ll likely notice the bar first. I am thinking some serious stuff must go on there with the mountains of liquor and wine lining the walls. Excellent choice for a first date meet-up, a date-night out or just some quality me time. Someone spent some time figuring out just what the bar should do. Take the time to enjoy it. It sizzles with a vibe that is going to make you want to sit down and take the night seriously. If it were a wine, I’d say the atmosphere was like a beautiful nose on a high-end wine; complex, terroir driven and worth the price tag.
Dine on “Big Boy Fare” in the Bar
If you do sit at the bar you can order a meal. Try the Chianina Burger ($12). A freshly baked brioche bun with Maytag blue cheese, pickled onions and addictive pickles heralding from Sonoma cannot be beat. Pair it with the herbed frites ($5). Big boy faire on the gourmet end of things.
Or Enjoy This Italian Steakhouse in a Private Booth
If you opt for the full dinner experience you’ve made the correct decision. A hostess will seat you in a private booth. The smell of sizzling grilled meat begins to find you. Not overwhelming, but it certainly sets the mood for what’s to come.
Promoted as an Italian steakhouse, you will find side items like risotto ($Market), Gnocchi Bolognese ($20) and Linguini with Clams ($20) but trust me this place is all about the beef. The fresher than fresh salads and other tantalizing sides are all noteworthy on their own. One course just seems to be better than the next. Using local produce gives their dishes an edge you are not likely to find elsewhere. However, do not get sidetracked. Come here for the beef – be the beef.
A Great Steak in a Great Place
A colossal 42-ounce Porterhouse, New York Steak ($50), a bone-in rib eye ($98- serves 2), rib chops and two filets are there to tempt you. The entrée portions are big enough to share or take home for another night of pure indulgence. Unless you’ve been training for a steak marathon, I doubt you can eat a whole entrée by yourself. When your food is served to you, you’ll understand what I mean. Owner Michael Dene wanted a local restaurant where locals and visitors alike could get a great steak in a great place. I am thinking he gets an A+ for his vision and his execution. Every food item holds a place of honor on the menu and is cooked and presented with the greatest of care. Experience and dedication show.
For those of you who like to know a bit more about your beef, Chianina shares that, “Following strict guidelines, the cattle are fed an all-natural vegetarian diet, beginning with grass on open range land, all the way through to a high quality grain-based finishing feed. The feed supply is strictly controlled to ensure that not even the smallest amounts of animal by-products are used. The cattle are also steroid, hormone, and antibiotic-free.”
High-Quality Chianina Beef
The end game of this restaurant is to feature its namesake’s steaks. Sourced from one of the world’s oldest breeds from Italy, Chianina as stated on the restaurant’s website is an “ancient cattle dating back some 2,200 years.” It’s leaner and more muscular than most other breeds and the meat “is renowned for its high quality, tender meat and superior nutritional value.”
According to general manager Alejandro Duran the Chianina beef hasn’t arrived yet, so Piedmontese beef (similar high end profile) along with the finest of prime cut beef is being served. The owners have apparently purchased the snowy-white Chianina cattle, and will have the beef on the menu sometime within a year of opening. I am just sayin’ if the Chianina beef will be better than what is currently featured, I am putting in my reservation now…and you should too.
A Killer Wine List Includes More Than 150 Options
Along with the contemporary yet sultry, almost New York-style atmosphere, the amazing food and particularly fine table service, there is also a killer wine list. For a newer steak house, they seem to have hit the ground running in this area. They have stocked their wine list with both by-the-glass and by-the bottle options.
You’re going to find affordable wines, expensive wines, name brand wines, small lot wines and even an allocated wine or two on the 150-plus wine list. Many of the wines have a case production of under 400. All have been lovingly chosen to enhance the dining experience.
My advice? Leave the wine decision to general manager and second-level sommelier Alejandro Duran. He travels from table to table all night long making sure your “experience” is everything it should be. The man has a palate and nose fit for the gods. You can trust him.
Some Favorite Chianina Dishes
Among my favorite dishes of the evening, I can highly recommend to you with great enthusiasm the: Spring Vegetable Salad ($14), Honey Salt rolls, Yukon Gratin ($10 -recipe attached), English Peas ($9), Diver Scallops ($18), Bone in Rib Eye, and the deconstructed banana pudding ($11). Everything is ordered a la carte. Mix and match according to what you love…although that’s going to be very difficult because it’s all fabulous including your final cup of cappuccino.
Chianina Steakhouse is located at 5716 E. Second St. in Long Beach. Reservations are recommended.
For more Information call 562-434-2333 or visit their website at www.chianina.com
Open for dinner only, Tuesday-Sunday.
- Bar Menu, $4-$22.
- Appetizers, $9-$22.
- Entrees, $20-$175.
- Sides, $5-$12.
Chianina Yukon Potato Gratin
Courtesy of Chef David Coleman
2 lb. cleaned and peeled Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 quart cream
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 T Grana Padano, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Using a Japanese mandolin, slice peeled Yukon gold potatoes 1/8-inch thick. Add to a pot and cover with the cream; add thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a low simmer for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender and give no resistance when pierced with a knife.
Pour potatoes and cream onto a sheet tray in a single layer and cool. Once cooled, layer potato cream mixture into a pre-buttered, oven-safe dish. Check the potato mixture for seasoning and add salt or pepper onto each layer if needed. Half way through filling dish, add a thin layer of Grana Padano cheese. When dish is full add more Grana Padano cheese on top. Place in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until hot throughout and golden brown on top.
Address: 5716 E. Second St., Long Beach.
Dinner only, Tuesday-Sunday.
Bar Menu, $4-$22.
Appetizers, $9-$22. Entrees, $20-$175. Sides, $5-$12.
Featured image above: Chianina’s beef filet. Photo courtesy of Chianina.