dining

A Cut Above: 10 Classic NYC Steak Houses

by Julie Besonen

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  • Sparks Steak House
    210 E. 46th St., 212-687-4855, Midtown East, Manhattan
    Please get to know Sparks for its full-flavored, crusty shell steak instead of recalling it as that place where the mobsters got whacked (for the record, it was Paul Castellano and his underboss, Tommy Bilotti, in 1985, ordered by John Gotti). The crowd today looks respectable, women with smooth, blond, country-club hair and men with glinting cuff links and just a touch of hair gel. A maître d' in a tux offers a warm greeting ("Looking sharp, sir!"), even hugs ("Hey, kid, how ya doin?"), and conducts customers through the sprawling, decorous space lined with gilt-framed landscape paintings. The scent of sizzling steak pervades the air, making it hard to resist, and there's also worthy shrimp cocktail and extra-thick lamb chops. Top-notch hash browns and baked potatoes hit the spot, and the staggering wine list has more deals than you'd expect.

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