The term ‘Delmonico steak’ originates from Delmonico’s, a legendary steakhouse in New York City, which used it as a brand name for its signature steak dish. However, there’s quite a debate about what cut of meat a Delmonico steak is. The restaurant opened its doors around 1840, and today, no one can say exactly what the original Delmonico steak cut was. Moreover, over time, the hypothetical definition of a Delmonico steak has evolved and can differ significantly depending on the location.
Nowadays, ‘Delmonico steak’ generally refers to a ribeye cut, but in some places, it might refer to a chuck eye steak or a strip steak. All these cuts have a few things in common: they’re thick, tender, and richly marbled, leading some to define a Delmonico steak simply as any steak that’s luxuriously thick, tender, and juicy. But remember, the specific cut that qualifies as a Delmonico steak depends on who’s serving or selling it.
What Cut is an Authentic Delmonico Steak?
Many years ago, Joe O’Connell, an author and editor at SteakPerfection.com, did a deep dive into the history of Delmonico steak. He found something pretty cool: the authentic Delmonico steak wasn’t just any steak; it was a special boneless top loin cut right from the front of the short loin. However, these days, the term ‘Delmonico steak’ has come to mean different things. But, the cut that’s most often associated with the modern-day Delmonico steak is the ribeye.
Delmonico ribeye can come from any part of the rib. So, for example, the Delmonico steak from Snake River Farms comes from the 13th rib. Meanwhile, other butchers cut their Delmonico steak from the first to the third rib. So, you can see, depending on who’s doing the cutting, what counts as an authentic Delmonico steak can vary.
I highly recommend checking out Joe O’Connell’s full article on the Delmonico steak over at SteakPerfection.com.
Delmonico vs. Ribeye: What’s the Difference?
The term Delmonico comes from Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City and is more about branding than anything else. However, when we talk about a ribeye, we’re referring to a specific cut of beef that sits between the 5th and 13th ribs of the cow. On the other hand, a Delmonico steak doesn’t have a fixed spot. It can be cut from anywhere along the rib section, from the 1st rib to the 13th.
There’s a big difference between a steak cut from the first rib and one from the 13th. They will differ in size, how much fat or marbling they have, the size of the muscles, and even how tender they are.
And if you’re one of those folks who think Delmonico steak is a name for a top loin (new york strip), well, the main thing you need to know is that the top loin is cut from the short loin section, not the rib section where you find ribeye. Ribeye is fattier, more flavorful, and tenderer than the top loin. For more details, check out my new york strip vs. ribeye article.