Steak 38 has been a South Jersey steakhouse staple on Route 38 in Cherry Hill for nearly 27 years. While ownership has recently changed hands and a new Executive Chef is handling the day-to-day operations in the kitchen, the influences of former legendary Chef and owner Joe Di’Amore remain.
New owner Rich Parillo doesn’t want to make too many changes to the beloved dining establishment known for its tableside service, but he has brought on new Executive Chef Pasquale Juliano to breathe new life into the classic American steakhouse located just under 10 miles from Philadelphia.
Chef Pasquale has been cooking since the age of 14. He started his career at Columbia II in Hammonton, NJ. Since then, he’s been the chef at The Steakhouse at Harrah’s Casino, Chubby’s 1½ Hearth Steakhouse in Gloucester City, and Kunkel’s Seafood & Steakhouse in Haddon Heights.
Chef Pasquale says, “I’m honored to be the new Executive Chef at Steak 38. Guests will recognize and appreciate that the classic steakhouse menu hasn’t changed, we’ve just added a few new items to liven it up!” So far, the feedback has been good and it sure sounds like they haven’t skipped a beat.
General Manager Jay Schecter with nearly 25 years experience in corporate restaurant management as well as at The Chart House in Philadelphia is hoping to bring the celebrated restaurant into the 21st century with subtle upgrades and increased offerings including new local craft beers.
Long-time bar manager Steve Hoover will keep the popular martini and cocktail program just the same, though. With over 30 years experience bartending at places such as Braddock’s Tavern in Medford, Hilton Hotel in Cherry Hill, Upstairs at Varalli’s in Philadelphia, and banquet managing at Pennsauken Country Club (to name a few!), Steve’s panache for classic and creative handcrafted cocktails at the piano-shaped bar make Steak 38 one of the more popular Happy Hour spots in South Jersey.
Upon invitation, we re-visited to sample some of the new menu items and partake in the fine steakhouse dining experience we’ve come to expect from Steak 38.
It’s immensely important to have a nice bottle of red wine available when dining at a fine steakhouse so we were treated to a bottle of The Calling 2016 Pinot Noir, which has a Wine Enthusiast rating of 90. Steak 38 has a diverse wine list to choose from and you can order by the glass or by the bottle. I highly recommend selecting this Pinot Noir.
You can tell a lot from a restaurant by what they offer on their starter menu. This Garlic Shrimp appetizer ensured we were off to a marvelous start. Plump jumbo shrimp bathed in a garlicky cherry tomato sauce with charred lemon juice set a nice tone for what was to come. Do note, they also continue to feature classic raw bar offerings for those who love raw and cooked seafood and shellfish.
You’re probably asking yourself, “Why would I want steak as an appetizer if steak is going to be the main course?” Don’t let that nonsense cloud your thinking and absolutely order this small plate of scintillating Beef Tenderloin. Served with an ultra-fresh, herby chimichurri and chili oil, these pepper-crusted melt-in-your-mouth medium-rare slices of tenderloin are sure to delight your tastebuds.
Maybe Pork Belly with Pickled Cucumbers is more your thing? If it isn’t, it should be. This unctuous piece of pork belly served on a bed of just pickled cucumbers was, in a word, mind-blowingly delicious. The acidity from the cucumbers cut through the fattiness of the pork resulting in a truly remarkable bite! The photo truly doesn’t do it justice. It’s a must-order, as far as I’m concerned.
Speaking of must-order, if you don’t order this Lobster Ravioli, you’re simply doing it wrong. Not only is the ravioli stuffed with luscious lobster and herbed ricotta, naturally, but it’s also topped with chunky pieces of lobster in creamy tomato sauce! The ravioli is always made fresh in-house and that won’t be changing. I could eat 2 plates of this, alone, easily.
While hubby is more of a true steak man, I tend to gravitate towards the seafood part of the menu at a steakhouse. And since I already had my fix of steak with the immaculate beef tenderloin starter, I happily ordered the Crab Cake for my main course. No filler, all thriller here. Delicate lump crab meat is a beautiful thing and they do it brilliantly with this crispy on the outside, buttery soft on the inside crab cake. Absolutely scrumptious!
Steak is, of course, the pièce de résistance at this classic steakhouse. And the Ribeye Steak, a hunk of well-marbled, prime cut beef, had hubby’s name all over it. It had all of the hallmarks of a perfectly sizzled steak — a well-seasoned, seared crust on the outside and succulent tenderness on the inside. Perfect medium-rare (pink!) execution was accomplished much to his delight. Any carnivore would find the result pure bliss… especially with a glass of exceptional red wine.
If you want to enjoy a nostalgic dining experience at an old-fashioned, yet sophisticated steakhouse that is still evolving with current tastes, Steak 38 is a sure-bet for your fine dining dollar.
Be sure to tell them Philly Grub sent ya!
All photos are by Marilyn or David Johnson, unless as noted, and should not be used without permission.
Special thanks to Steak 38 for the hospitality. As always, opinions are our own.