Pulling up steaks

I'm outta here

I'm outta here

The six acres of Nick Manero's estate at 110 Glenville Road, asking $5.695 million, are reported as pending. That's for four building lots, adjacent to the Sherwood Farms development, and I suppose some brave soul doesn't think paying that much for so little is crazy, but I personally would hesitate. Then again, I come from a long, long line of real estate dolts: landing at the southern tip of New Amsterdam, with the entire island beckoning, we settled on Staten Island. Two centuries later, offered a plot of land across from a swampy pond, great-grandfather Fountain passed, and someone else built the Plaza Hotel, and Central Park was developed quite nicely despite his refusal to help, thank you very much. So what do I know from shinola?

Informative article on Manero's steak house's closing here, for those interested in Greenwich history. My own memory of the establishment is that it was a tired old place, even in the 60s, when my grandmother would drag us there because they remembered and honored her as a film star, but served us the same dull food they doled out to everyone else. Still, four-bucks or so for a complete meal was a bargain, I suppose, and Granny was paying. By the time I returned to town as a young lawyer in the early 80s, the restaurant served mostly  as a dining hall for Greenwich Bar Association lunches (and Rotary Club functions which — I had some sense of pride — I avoided) and was way past its expiration date.

But, in its time, it was a true Greenwich landmark. Here's the Times' take on the place:

If Andy Rooney, the ''60 Minutes'' commentator who has turned complaining into an art form, stood in line to get in, there had to be something special about the place. 
Celebrities including Buster Crabbe, Arnold Palmer, Ivana Trump have eaten there. Johnny Olson, the announcer on ''The Price is Right,'' the television game show, was a regular, too. 
But after 62 years of selling steak dinners, Manero's Restaurant Steakhouse in Greenwich is scheduled to serve its last meal Sunday night. 
This spring, the three businessmen who bought the place from the Manero family in 2003 plan to start building condominiums on the property, which is on Steamboat Road, near Greenwich Harbor. 
Henry Pascarella, one of the owners, said there were too many other restaurants in town and that Manero's time had passed. ''It's sad that over the last few years it hasn't gotten the community support it deserves,'' he said. 
Bruce Davis, the restaurant's general manager, started there in 1965, driving a delivery truck for the original owner, Nicholas Manero Sr. Mr. Davis said that people came in droves to Manero's from all over the region in the 1960's and 1970's, and sometimes stood in long lines to get in. At its peak, it was serving about 1,100 dinners on Saturday nights, he said, and was doing $10 million a week in business. 
''I used to bring 50,00 pounds of meat a week here with the truck,'' he said. ''They came from everywhere, Westchester, Rockland County, the Bronx. When business was crazy in the 1970's, we were selling a complete filet mignon dinner, including an appetizer, garlic bread, fried onions, dessert and coffee, for $5.95.'' 
Mr. Rooney, who lives in Rowayton, was one of the regulars. ''It was a big, friendly place,'' he said. ''You usually had to stand in line. I don't care much for standing in line to get into a restaurant, but basically, for me, it was a place I could afford to bring four kids and my wife. It wasn't a gourmet experience, but it was dependably good.'' 
Mr. Davis said the volume of meat sold at the 600-seat restaurant and at its adjoining butcher shop allowed the owners to keep prices reasonable. He said the complete steak dinner now costs about $30. 
''What we didn't sell in the restaurant, we sold in the butcher shop, and vice versa,'' he said. 
Mr. Davis said that it was not only the prices that drew the crowds, it was also the flavor of the beef. ''What made the place was that we have an aging room, where we age the meat for up to 28 days,'' he said. 
When Mr. Davis began at Manero's, there were just four restaurants in Greenwich, he said, but as competition increased, business dropped significantly in the late 1980's. Since January, the restaurant has been open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. 
Penny Monahan, a Greenwich selectman and a third-generation resident in Greenwich, said that she had been going to Manero's most of her life. She held two election victory parties there. ''It's unfortunate, because this kind of thing is happening all over our town to businesses by the water,'' she said. ''It's changing the character of our town quickly.'' 
Mr. Davis said that the butcher shop, which will close on Tuesday, had been busy since word of its final days got out and that he expected many of the restaurant's decades-old Formica tables to be occupied this weekend. 
''That was probably part of the problem, too,'' he said. ''The main dining room basically looks the same as the day I got here. We never changed. We never went with the times. Everyone wants clean and fancy these days.''

Fancy I can do without; clean is appreciated.

UPDATE: A couple of former Manero's butchers opened Greenwich Prime Meats after it closed, and have apparently sold it to a new owner. Great meat, sandwiches and fixings, and I recommend them, but here's a tip I learned from Cook's Illustrated long ago: you can "dry age" your beef by taking, say, a standard rib roast and placing it, uncovered, on a rack in the refrigerator for 3-7 days. I had just paid something like $180 for a dry-aged standing rib roast the previous Christmas when I read that , so the cheaper option held great appeal. Ten years on, I'm still serving up $80 rib roasts on that holiday, and have yet to notice a difference. 

I do the same thing with strip steaks, by the way, with excellent results.