It has been a long time since Bryan and I have eaten at a steakhouse in Boston together. Ever since we moved to our townhouse in Cambridge (which, most importantly, came with a tiny yard where Bryan could put a kick-ass grill), we haven't felt the need to have steak at a restaurant.
After all, the steaks we make at home are really, really good. We purchase high quality meat, and we have this system down. I prep and season the meat; Bryan grills it. It's a bit silly, but neither of us actually knows how to do the other person's job. We need each other to make the perfect steak.
Unless if we are in another state (or a country known for steak), we never eat at steakhouses together. More often than not, we find that the steaks we eat at restaurants just aren't as good as the ones we make at home.
But then one day the folks at Strip by STREGA reached out to me and invited me to try a meal. Bryan had read some very positive reviews online about the place, so he was actually intrigued and wanted to visit. On a cold January evening, we bundled up and headed into downtown Boston to enjoy our first Boston steakhouse experience in a very long time.
Strip by Strega is located in Back Bay on Arlington Street at the Park Plaza. The space is modern and pretty big. There is a large, circular bar area with a sizeable TV. As you can imagine, the area can get pretty loud during exciting games (we happened to be there during a Patriot's game). Thankfully, the noise level was fine in the dining area.
The restaurant has an impressive collection of wine, with a very good American wine selection. Unfortunately, wine prices are pretty marked up (in many instances two or three times the cost of retail). Whiskey prices were a bit more down to earth.
We went with a 2010 Alpha Omega proprietary red wine, which cost $185.
The menu consists of several different sections. There is a Raw Bar that includes raw oysters, clams, all sorts of shellfish, and even a STRIP seafood tower (meant for groups). You can even get a couple types of caviar, sold at market prices.
From that section, we tried a single Wellfleet Oyster served with a raspberry sorbet and a cucumber raspberry mignonette. The single bite was briny, fruity, and herbal all at the same time. It was a surprisingly pleasant blend of flavors and we both really enjoyed it.
The First Course section has many interesting appetizers ($16 - $21), most with an Italian bent (e.g., Wagyu carpaccio, burrata, gnocchi, and calamari, just to name a few). We tried the grilled Octopus ($21), which came with potatoes, olives, shallots, and parsley. The octopus was overall quite tender (with the exception of a few smaller pieces). The olives and the pesto sauce added a bright element that nicely balanced out the dish.
We also tried the Wagyu Carpaccio ($21), an impressive dish of thinly sliced Wagyu beef topped with pickled mushrooms, pickled jalapeños, gherkin, Pecorino, pollen, and grated dried egg yolk. It's not surprising that a steak restaurant would have good carpaccio, and this one was excellent. I loved the mixture of salty, tart, and umami that came from the toppings. The beef was also super soft and flavorful.
There is a separate section for Soups & Salads ($11 - $14), which includes steakhouse classics like a wedge salad, lobster bisque, and an arugula salad.
We opted for Baby Arugula ($12), a mild (not too peppery) arugula salad tossed in a lemon vinaigrette and served on top of paper-thin slices of poached pears that looked like raw scallops. There was one thin slice of truffle Pecorino on top, which was delicious but way too small compared to the size of the salad greens. Overall however, the salad was nice, with a pleasant lemony flavor.
Steak is the star, of course, and there is a separate section of the menu dedicated to Prime Beef ($29 - $59). Steaks comes from small family farms in Nebraska, packed by Greater Omaha and sold by Kinnealey Quality Meats (a Boston meat purveyor).
I ordered a gorgeous 16 oz Prime Dry Aged Ribeye ($57). They cooked it perfectly, and it was nicely seasoned. The steak had a nice beef flavor and overall was quite enjoyable to eat.
Bryan was shocked to see that the menu actually had a whole 6 oz steak of A5 Japanese Wagyu, something we had never seen in the U.S. before. Only in Tokyo and Osaka had we ever enjoyed a whole A5 Wagyu steak before. In the U.S., our exposure to A5 Wagyu was limited to small, single-bite sized portions on expensive tasting menus.
It was such a rare offering in Boston, we had to go for it. The beef is priced according to the market. On the day we went, the steak cost $165.
You can get a flight of sauces (3 for $6) and can choose between a large variety: Barolo, marsala, green peppercorn, STRIP steak sauce, house BBQ, bearnaise, and hollandaise.
Personally, I think there's no reason to interfere with the beautiful flavors inherent in the steak. We sampled the sauces, but chose to eat our steaks without any sauce.
For those who don't eat steak, there are other Main Courses ($24 - $75), everything from simple pastas and grilled seafood to veal, pork chops, and even a 3-lb lobster.
Sides ($11 - $16) are offered a la carte, and there are several choices.
The Roasted Cauliflower ($12) was properly cooked and seasoned, quite tasty though nothing particularly exciting.
The Gnocchi & Cheese ($12, or $18 with lobster) is a fun play on your typical steakhouse mac & cheese but made with gnocchi instead. Bryan (who loves mac & cheese) thought it was quite tasty, though he didn't really care for the texture of the gnocchi. I found it way too rich and could only handle a small bite.
The Creamed Spinach ($11) was very creamy, to the point that the spinach was almost swimming in liquid. It was fine, very classic, but nothing special.
We enjoyed a fun after dinner drink called Bourbon Milk, a cocktail made with Bourbon infused with milk, lemon, and a sweetener. It was really interesting because the bourbon actually tasted like milk, even though it was only infused in milk. The drink was not too sweet, and thus I liked it.
For dessert, we had a White Chocolate Cake with an almond crust on the bottom. The texture of the cake was similar to cheesecake except it tasted much more like white chocolate and vanilla. The cake was served with a light raspberry sorbet on top and some artfully plated raspberries as well. Overall the dessert was light and enjoyable - nothing particularly exciting, but likely a crowd-pleaser.
The Chocolate Truffle that came with the bill was nicely dark and surprisingly good (I'm not usually much of a chocolate truffle lover).
All in all, we were pleasantly surprised by the food at Strip by Strega. The starters are quite good, and I appreciate how the menu has an Italian bent to its dishes, incorporating more creative, not-your-run-of-the-mill steakhouse offerings like the octopus starter or the decorated Wellfleet oyster.
The steak is the reason to come, and we both really enjoyed our steaks. We don't know anywhere else in Boston right now serving whole 6 oz A5 Wagyu steaks on its menu. I'm not sure how long it will stay on the Strip by Strega menu. All I can say is that it's unusual to find it here, and it's nice that they offer it and do a good job grilling it. (We tried grilling Wagyu steak at home once but let's just say we're still working on perfecting that one.)
The sides are less interesting, and the dessert we had was fine but didn't blow us away.
Nevertheless, if you're a steak fan, this is one of the best steak places in Boston. They do a good job cooking it, and they offer some unusual steaks that are hard to get. Furthermore, our server was excellent (very knowledgeable, friendly, and attentive), and overall the experience was quite enjoyable. Just be prepared to spring a bit extra for wine!
Strip by Strega
64 Arlington St
Boston, MA 02116
Disclaimer - Strip by Strega invited me to come visit the restaurant and paid the cost of this meal. All opinions are my own.