How owner WOLF GANG ZWEINER AND PARTNERS HAVE TURNED WOLF GANG’s STEAKHOUSE INTO A WORL DWIDE DESTINATION
by Jessica Jones-Gorman • Photos By Amessé Photography
After working 40 years as a waiter at Peter Luger Steak House, including a stint as head waiter, Wolfgang Zwiener knew all about the intricacies involved in selecting and serving the perfect steak. So, when he joined forces with five business partners in 2004 to open his own restaurant, he didn’t duplicate an exceptional steak house, he improved upon it; creating a time-honored menu and rich ambiance that he knew steak connoisseurs would appreciate.
“The most unique aspect of Wolfgang’s Steakhouse is that we still do things the old-fashioned way,” noted Peter Zwiener, Wolfgang’s son and partner. “We buy fresh beef at market, dry age on the premises, and only offer 100 percent USDA prime. We don’t believe in cutting costs by using cheaper cuts. We bring only the best to our customers and we never stray from the tried and tested techniques of cooking and preparing the meat.”
Launched 12 years ago on Park Avenue at the former Vanderbilt Hotel dining room, Wolfgang’s flagship location was an instant success. The following was so considerable that subsequent locations followed almost immediately. After opening four more Manhattan steak houses (in Tribeca, Midtown, and Times Square), Wolfgang branched out to Beverly Hills, Miami, and even Waikiki. Interest from international customers eventually resulted in openings in Japan and Korea, and in 2015, the team opened its 14th establishment in Somerville, New Jersey.
“We chose this location because of its proximity to our home base in New York,” Zwiener said. “We believe there’s a great potential market for steak houses here and we realized that a lot of our customer base lives in New Jersey. So we decided to bring our concept here.”
That concept is known for its signature porterhouse, which is aged for 28 days, then trimmed and cooked in a high temperature broiler to sear in the flavor and produce a nice char—with an ambiance that features all of the traditional elements you’d expect from a high-end steak house: arched Guastavino ceilings, mahogany bar, wood floors, and wainscoting.
“Of course this restaurant is inspired by our other locations in New York,” Zwiener said. “We replicated the tiled ceilings that are in our Park Avenue location and designed our aging room in almost the exact same fashion. But here we’ve added some space for al fresco dining, too, allowing our customers to enjoy the charm of this town.
“A typical Wolfgang’s meal would start with our seafood platter and a strip of sizzling bacon,” explained Zweiner, “followed by one of our chopped salads and the porterhouse served with German potatoes and creamed spinach. All of this is accompanied by a top-quality wine from our cellar—and in that realm we have everything from affordable to sought after—completed by a slice of our homemade cheesecake or apple strudel.”
Crab cakes, tuna tartare, and fresh oysters on the half shell can be found on the appetizer menu, and cuts of filet mignon, rib eye, and New York sirloin are available for those who aren’t in the mood for porterhouse. Fresh seafood (think a 3.5-pound jumbo lobster stuffed with crab meat or a plate piled high with jumbo shrimp scampi) and at least one pasta dish are always on the menu, too, along with a veal chop, traditional chicken Parmesan and a full rack of baby back ribs. A smaller bar menu features filet mignon tacos, burger sliders, and buffalo drumsticks.
All 14 locations are owned and operated by Wolfgang and Peter Zwiener, along with Zijo Music and Rex Feratovic (the last two former Peter Luger waiters) and Lydia D’Amato and chef Amiro Cruz.
According to Zwiener, a 15th location is scheduled to open soon in the Philippines.
“The international expansion is simply a result of business people eating at our Manhattan steak houses and showing a desire for us to bring the business to their country,” he said. “Before I opened these restaurants, I worked as a banker, and part of my background was in mergers and acquisitions, helping corporations expand abroad. So taking this business to an international level was an easy fit.”
Locations in Hong Kong and Zurich are currently being scouted, and Zwiener said the chain will only continue to grow.
“We just celebrated our 12th anniversary in February,” he concluded. “It’s so wonderful to see how this concept has grown in just 12 years—people have been so warm and welcoming and truly excited about what we have to offer. And we’re excited to continue our expansion, bringing exceptional quality and service to customers all over the globe.”
119 West Main Street, Somerville / 908.541.0344
Cuisine: Steak house / Hours: Sunday: 4:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Mon-Thu: 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. / Friday: 11:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Saturday: 4:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. / Brunch: Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
All major credit cards accepted / Service: Friendly, knowledgeable
Bar: Full bar / Parking: Street / Private Parties: Yes