N9NE Steakhouse is set to open in Victory Park January 18. N9NE (pronounced "nine") is the "signature" property of Las Vegas-based N9NE Group, parent of Ghostbar and founded by Michael Morton (son of Morton's the Steakhouse founder Arnie Morton) and Scott DeGraff, who operate restaurants and nightclubs in Chicago, Las Vegas and now Dallas. But that's not the only steak careening onto the prairie. New York's BLT Steak, the classic American steakhouse twisted by the interpretations of French chef Laurent Tourondel (Bistro Laurent Tourondel, hence BLT), will open in July in Village on the Green, a new 332,000-square-foot development on corner of Alpha and Noel roads. What makes these Vegas numerals and Big Apple sandwich monikers think they can spar in the world's most competitive steak market without getting their loins sundered?

"Dallas has proven to be a successful location for steakhouses, and since our concept is unique and highly desirable and appeals to a wider market than your typical steakhouse, we feel confident in our success in Dallas." So says BLT Steak spokeswoman Kay Lindsay. (There's also a BLT Steak in Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.)

This has Bob's Steak & Chop House founder Bob Sambol highly amused. Sambol, who says he's stoking an interest in the former Smith & Wollensky steakhouse location for a catering facility, thinks these outliers are kidding themselves if they think Dallas is easy meat. "Dallas steakhouses are locally driven," he says. "That's why I think Craft and N9NE are going to have a big problem here. I think they come to Dallas thinking, 'Hey, we're from New York. We're from Las Vegas. This is how we do it there. We're going to show them.'" Fickle knives. Bloodied steak. Welcome to Dallas.

Fresh on steakhouse heels comes N9NE Group's Nove Italiano (pronounced "no-vay") March 1 in Victory Park, marking the second Nove after Vegas. Nove means "nine" in Italian. Founders Morton and DeGraff met when they were 9. Thus reads the press blurb: "What N9NE is to the steakhouse, Nove is to the Italian restaurant." Nine, Nine, Nine. Flip them over and you get another Omen sequel. Anyway, Nove will have a wine list of some 400 Italian bottlings hailing from virtually every cranny in the boot. "Basically, I'd like it to be the best and deepest Italian list in Dallas," says Nove sommelier Rudy Mikula, who hails from Nana. He admits hitting that goal in Dallas won't be hard, especially when you have special effects. Nove will feature a wine wall with bottles resting in acrylic racks backlit with system of programmable LED lights so that the entire wine collection becomes a light show. You used to have to drink scotch to make your wine do that.


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