Pleased to “Meat” you!

– Hope you guessed their name. Let’s Meat Steakhouse is Revamped and Fired Up!

By Lucy Segal

Pleased to “Meat” You!

 Up in River Vale is a New Jersey restaurant worth more than just “meeting” but truly getting to know! Upon arriving at this premier steakhouse and an Italian eatery, you are reminded of a country club or a restaurant at a fine resort. The sleek building, with hand-set stone siding, is nestled in a tony Bergen County suburb.

Once inside, you feel the cool vibe of a NYC speakeasy or even an exclusive members-only establishment. Within moments, you are greeted with the warm and fuzzy welcome that makes this hidden gem a home away from home! 

While the Let’s Meat name may be a clever play on words, it doesn’t play around when it comes to serving consistently amazing food with a mouth-watering menu of succulent selections. It serves only the finest USDA Prime dry-aged steaks, premium seafood, and Italian specialties in a relaxing, comfortable atmosphere.

Let’s Meat began as a small BYOB…

…in Harrington Park and later expanded, tripling in size via a gut renovation and an added full bar. Now run by owner-partners and Garden State natives George Kapigian and Bob Hay, this slightly off-the-beaten-path place is worth not just a try but many return visits.

Bob, or Bobby, which most call him, given he is all about informality, came to the restaurant business recently following his long and current career manufacturing promotional items. Bobby proudly states, “I love people; I love meeting new people. We personally care, and we’re not just fly-by-night. We want to build something that grows.”


The Details


He describes how he and his partner selected every element of the design, including a signature Legendchar grill that creates a 1200-degree dual surface cooking temperature, searing meats quickly and evenly to make them the most tender and juicy. They applied that keen attention to detail in creating the menu, sourcing its food, and bringing in renowned ChefPaul Bazzini.

Chef Bazzini…

…began his career in the kitchen with his grandfather and other chef family members in and around the New York City area, from bars to butcher shops and bakeries. He went on to work for top NYC hotspots like Bouley, Butterfield81, and The Four Seasons. Bazzini is a 4-time James Beard Foundation featured Chef and has catered numerous celebrity events, including shows like Law and Order and The Grammy Awards.

Chef Bazzini says it is all about “engaging with the guests to make them part of our extended family.” Bazzini is also involved in updating bi-weekly specials, as well as seasonally updating the actual menus. The owners, along with Bazzini, are committed to sourcing only the highest quality meat and produce for this steak house slash Italian eatery, and they, in fact, acquire their USDA prime dry-aged meat from the same purveyors as the biggest and best steakhouses in Manhattan. In addition to dry-aged steak, they have incredible mouth-watering pork chops and fabulous organic chicken dishes, as well as Italian specialties and fish. 

George Kapigian comes from a Wall Street background and then a shipping franchise, so restaurant life is new. “What I like about our new location is that we have a very comfortable bar where you can come in casual from the golf course. Or if you want to go into the dining room and get dressed up to enjoy a great Saturday evening that is perfect too!” Kapigian has long time ties to River Vale, given his mom pioneered its first female ambulance Corp back in the early 70s, and as he adds “all 5 feet of her!” 

A Team Together

On another note, Bobby Hay recently suffered a severe cardiac issue that resulted ina quadruple bypass and was told by doctors that he is a medical miracle. While he’s still on the mend, it is with a renewed appreciation for life. His biggest take away is having more patience and easing up on 15-hour work days, admitting he’s now cool with delegating. Hay’s recent health scare really brought this team together, and after just one visit to Let’s Meat, you can feel the tight connection.

With much to celebrate given Hay’s positive prognosis, toasts are in order. Thanks to General Manager Pete Duca, who has been obsessed with dining and restaurants for years and is also a master mixologist, the bar is thriving. Duca says, “I believe the reason we have been able to succeed and grow in such a volatile time is because we have an amazing staff that truly cares and provides the best food and service that we can.

Hampton Water Wine

Barrel Aged Cocktails

Let’s Meat has four barrel-aged cocktails that Duca is especially excited to share. Barrel aging is a process that alters any harshness in distilled spirits, adding woodsy-induced flavor as well as other desirable taints. Ducad describes the new American oak barrels they use as adding depth to his uniquely crafted cocktails. One of their most creative combos is the “Smokin’ Root.” For this, he says, “We start by smoking the barrel with hickory and cherry wood before adding a spiced cherry shrub to our carefully constructed proprietary recipe, adding special touches to make it just right.” The other 90-day barrel-aged options include the Manhattan, the Old Fashioned, and the Vieux Carre.

Their wine menu is impressive, and their cocktail menu includes many signature specialties like the Let’s Meat Passionfruit-Guava Cosmowith Stoli Vanilla, lemon, guava, and GiffardPassion Fruit Liqueur or the Let’s MeatMargarita with Dragon fruit and jalapeno-infused with Espolon Reposado, lime, agave,  black lava salt and habanero rim.


Events and VIP

They also have specialty nights and events, for example, Taco Tuesday, when the bar becomes a taco pop-up, and Wednesdays all about Prime Rib. Fun is always on the menu at Let’s Meat! Thursdays are reserved for Live Music. Then there are frequent rotating events like cigar nights or wine and cock-tail tastings, so be on the lookout, or subscribe to their email list. They do off-site catering as well (and are currently in talks with a top sushi provisions team to collaborate.) Let’s Meat also offers a VIP Wine Locker Membership. This program has some neat perks like a private wine locker with your name, the ability to bring your own bottles of wine with no corkage fee, premium access to special events, priority seating, and advanced reservations. There is a monthly fee, though there is no annual contract. The Let’s Meat menus are exceptionally flavorful and expansive.


From Raw Bar to Apps

The Raw Bar includes Market Priceoysters with Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce and Mignonette, Frutti Di Mare Plateau with Cold Water Lobster Tail. Also with ColossalShrimp, Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, Clams, Oysters, Wakame Seaweed Salad, and Chef’s Signature Sauces. Salad options range from Rainbow Beets with Pecans, Chenel Goat Cheese, and XO Sherry Vinaigrette to Shaved Baby Artichoke Salad with toasted walnuts, avocado, and shaved parmesan, topped with a lemon vinaigrette. Additionally, they offer Grilled Shrimp, Everything Crusted Ahi Tuna, Burrata, and Grilled Organic Chicken.

Appetizers range from the much-touted Thai Chili Glazed Brussel Sprouts with sesame, Pancetta, and Puffed Rice to the“OG” Meatballs with Dry Aged Wagyu, Heritage Pork, San Marzano “Gravy,” and ricotta. Like a true steakhouse, they offer bacon, such as The Nueske Bacon Steak with Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon, maple syrup, and cracked black pepper. There is also the popular “Everything” CrustedSaku Tuna with Wasabi Yuzu, DragonSauce, and Chimichurri Crushed Avocado.

If you happen to be craving something a bit more Italian, their house-made Pasta shouldn’t be missed! Try the Pappardelle Ragu Bolognese made with beef, pork, and Pecorino Romano, or the Gnocchi with a choice of Luigi’s Spicy VodkaSauce, San Marzano Marinara or the decadent Roman Alfredo. There’s even a Fusilli Cast Iron Skillet of Macaroni and Cheese with add-on options like LobsterTail and Truffle Mushrooms.

The Entrees

Entree picks are vast and start with Market Price Fish of the Day as the Fresh Off the Hook Specials, or you can try the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with Cucumber Wasabi Aioli, and Truffle French Fries. Plenty of chicken options, all sourced organically, like the Brick Roasted Joyce Farms chicken with broccoli rabe, wild mushrooms, and marsala pan sauce. Taste the much-hyped Grilled Berkshire Heritage pork Chop with Cherry Pepper scarpariello sauce, Roasted Yukon Potatoes, grilled long peppers, and broccoli rabe. And, when you just feel like a burger, be sure to grab the Prime Dry Aged Burger with Grafton Cheddar, Butcher Bacon, on a brioche bun, with fries, and Mason Jar Pickles. 


The Meating Place

The menu speaks for itself when it comes to the juicy and succulent meat at this “Meeting” spot. The Meating Place section of the menu includes a 16 oz. NY Strip, 12 oz. Filet Mignon, 22 oz. Bone-in Ribeye, 16 oz. Lamb Chops, 40 oz. Porterhouse for 2, or a 44 oz. Prime Tomahawk. Some of the add-ons you can choose to complement any of these steaks are Maytag Blue Cheese Crust, Shrimp Scampi, Sauteed Vidalia Onions, White Truffle Butter, Truffled Mushrooms, or Lobster Tail. Steak sauces that add a kick include Bearnaise, Au Poivre, Chimichurri, Bordelaise, and Chef’s A4.  



The Sides

When it comes to the sides, there is much to feast the eyes on. They include Creamed Gratinee Spinach or Fried Shishito Peppers with Za’atar. Or maybe Roasted Wild Mushrooms with Leeks might be more to your liking. There is also Grilled Asparagus with Béarnaise and scrumptious Vidalia Onion Rings. If a midday meal is more your jam, check out the lunch menu with picks like“Bee Sting” pizza with candied bacon, tomato, and mozzarella with hot honey, or the Crispy Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich with pickles, shredded lettuce, hot house sauce, and sriracha mayo.

A terrific bar menu for a light bite or a quick drink also exists. Choose options like the Crab Cake “Burger” with Brioche bun, Shishito peppers, and Cucumber-Wasabi or Chicken Wings with Chef’s Dry Rub or Buffalo sauce. There is also a Jumbo Bavarian pretzel to snack on with Warm Beer Cheese & Spicy Mustard. Or perhaps Meatball Sliders do the trick with melted mozzarella and marinara, or some Fried Calamari with Crispy Cherry Peppers and marinara or even their own Chopped LongHots & Parmesan.

Desserts include warm apple crostata, a streusel with salted caramel and vanilla ice cream, their own Brioche bread pudding with ice cream, and Brooklyn Cheesecake with berry compote. There is also the rainbow cookie sundae with vanilla gelato, Italian rainbow cookies, raspberry compote, and chocolate sauce. Let’s Meat is hoping to expand down the road, eyeing a place in the southern US for LM South, as well as expanding to other food categories, like Let’s Taco. Until then,“Let’s Meat” soon in River Vale, NJ.

 Sample a taste of their menu in Dining Out Jersey’s Dining Guide HERE


Let’s Meat is Open for Lunch: Thurs-Sat 12 pm-3pm

Dinner:  Tues-Sat. 4 pm-10pm   Sunday:  4pm-9pm

Make reservations by phone, their website, or opentable.com.

Let’s Meat Steakhouse

{625 Rivervale Rd, River Vale;  201.660.7960; www.letsmeatsteakhouse.com}.