As part of a Dallas-based chain, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in Philadelphia is a world apart from many of the other shrines to beef that pepper the city. But even more than the restaurant’s provenance, it is the tireless effort of Executive Chef John Stritzinger that truly transports diners to another world. This culinary master has taken the local steakhouse world by storm while taking prime cuts of beef to new heights, with his expertly crafted dishes in the heart of Center City.
A boyish looking 33-year-old, Chef Stritzinger has an eye for fine food and has cut his teeth in the region for nearly 20 years. Along with his wife Nicole, the chef presides over a family of three children in addition to a dining room that seats 600 hungry patrons at full capacity. But rest assured this kind of big league success has never gone to his head. In fact, to keep Stritzinger in line, his kids still ask for American favorites like chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese -- and they get them. Before you start pondering what it must be like to have a world class chef in your home kitchen growing up, Chef Stritzinger insists that “they’re very picky eaters.” While his little ones may not yet fully grasp the steakhouse chef’s local prowess, his talents are certainly appreciated by local diners clamoring for a reservation at one of the palatial restaurant’s many tables nestled into the exquisitely designed space.
For nearly a decade, Sullivan’s Steakhouse based in Wilmington, Delaware, was lucky enough to enjoy Stritzinger’s kitchen skills before he made the leap to Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse. It was at Sullivan’s Steakhouse that the chef really honed his craft and prepared favorites such as Chilean sea bass with regularity. Of course, when he hits the restaurant scene as a diner, seafood is always at the top of his list. “Seafood is my favorite food to eat. When I go out to eat, it’s what I always get,” he says.
The chef also contends that quality meats are what set Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse apart from its local counterparts. With prime beef, expert cuts, and masterful preparation, it’s clear that terms like ‘marbleization’ and ‘fat content’ are taken very seriously in Chef Stritzinger’s kitchen. In fact, the chef takes his kitchen demeanor equally seriously. As the commander of a massive behind-the-scenes operation, he is able to create a truly smooth working machine that ensures each customer receives the best service possible without the typical drama you may see on reality shows: “I was never a big yeller, although sometimes I wish I was sitting down eating.”
One of the most fulfilling aspects of the job for this veteran chef is to witness his patrons enjoying their meals and truly relishing the opportunity to send customers home happy. He attributes the restaurant’s enduring popularity to “the quality of products and beef that we use.” The chef has a hand in selecting all the beef that passes through these doors and he prides himself on cultivating a rarified atmosphere where only the best is considered acceptable -- and not just in the kitchen. “It’s also about the amazing service that our servers give to guests and the energy that our restaurant creates,” the chef says.
Speaking of energy, the sprawling steakhouse is located in a former bank that is now a nationally recognized landmark building, and the interior requires untold amounts of manpower to keep looking beautiful. The chef agrees, “It’s an absolutely gorgeous building.” Of course, the skyscraper of bottles never fails to impress either, as patrons have their pick of countless vine varietals at every meal. Chef Stritzinger looks equally awed when recalling Del Frisco’s centerpiece: “We have a wine tower that goes two stories high, straight through the bar. It’s really an amazing space with 24,000 square feet.” And on any given evening the enjoyment is on full display from the ground floor bar area to the raised mezzanine dining space that seems to float above the city itself. While choosing a perennial favorite from the comprehensive menu is a virtually impossible task, the Chef notes that “lobster macaroni and cheese is one of our biggest sellers. The secret is the high quality lobster.”
The emphasis on quality is never far from his lips and this dedication to using the finest ingredients is the driving force behind the restaurant’s success across the country. With Chef Stritzinger at the helm, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in Philadelphia continues to push the boundaries of fine food and unsurpassed service one porterhouse at a time.