I’m sitting at a high-top with three friends in the swank, glass-walled lounge at Ocean 44, the hardest place to get a reservation in all of Scottsdale, and life is tasting pretty sweet. Built from the ground up over the carcass of the old Harkins Camelview 5 near Scottsdale Fashion Square, the stunning Judi Testani-designed space thrums with energy, the voices and laughter of the well-dressed and well-fixed rolling in waves across the room. Meanwhile, solicitous servers ferry platters of steak and seafood to patrons who can drop $250 on a Tuesday night dinner for two without batting an eye. The razzle-dazzle of it all makes me a little heady – or is it this finger-bowl-size pour of good wine?
Of course, distinctive décor, pitch-perfect service and a menu rife with beautifully presented, breathtakingly expensive dishes are hallmarks of Valley restaurateur Dennis Mastro, who along with his sons Michael and Jeff and his partner Scott Troilo, founded Mastro’s Steakhouse back in 1999, elevating the paradigm for this meat-loving cowboy town. The partners grew to six restaurants in Arizona and California, including seafood-centric Ocean Club in Kierland Commons, before selling the whole shebang in 2007. Four years later, they re-grouped to become Prime Steak Concepts, opening Dominick’s Steakhouse – a quieter, classier iteration of Mastro’s, long considered a meat market and cougar haunt – in Scottsdale Quarter, followed by Steak 44 (named for its 44th Street location) in 2014 and two other steak restaurants (both called Steak 48 for Arizona’s 48th state status) in Houston and Chicago.