News Article | 4/6/2007

Restaurants dressed to the nines

If Times Square and Las Vegas had an offspring, the result might look something like Victory Plaza: towering plasma screens, bustling crowds and plenty of look-at-me dining. And it doesn’t get much glitzier than N9NE Steakhouse and its sister, Nove Italiano.

Like the W’s lofty Ghostbar, both mega-restaurants arrive courtesy of Chicago-based N9NE Group, founded by friends-since-age-9 Michael Morton (son of Morton’s steakhouse chain founder Arnie) and Scott DeGraff.

N9NE’s first Texas outpost ups the heat on traditional steakhouses with future-chic styling anchored by the circular champagne and caviar bar bathed in the revolving auras of a 300-color light system.

In the kitchen, 1,200 F ovens produce steaks that are perfectly charred outside but still slice open pink and juicy. Looking for an exclusive? You’ll find the Kobe Rib-Eye Chicken Fried Steak nowhere but Dallas. And how many menus offer a $69 margarita?

N9NE shares a roof, and a kitchen, with Nove (pronounced NO-vay, the Italian word for nine). But the vibes are as distinctive as the menus. Nove’s accent is Tuscan glam, with bites including thin-crust lobster pizza and Spaghetti Nove, made fresh at an open station with seafood and handcrafted pasta.

Overhead, Swarovski crystal chandeliers customized with LEDs (light-emitting diodes) create an ever-changing light show. (DeGraff worked a similar angle at the team’s Playboy Club Las Vegas, creating fabric made with colored LEDs for the playmates’ bunny ears.) Cocktails such as the Pink Pussycat – Roederer rosé champagne over sparkling pink ice cubes – keep spirits happy. And, no, you haven’t had too many: Those 12-foot topiaries on the patio really are va-va-voom nudes.

With both restaurants in high gear, N9NE’s founders have no plans to slow down. Stuff Dallas, a gift boutique selling Ts, buckles and other logo ephemera, has already opened between the two eateries. Next year, the duo will add a hush-hush fourth concept , currently dubbed Liquid Sky, to their Victory portfolio.

“Dallas is already a world-class shopping destination. Now we want to give it an equally chic entertainment venue,” says DeGraff. “Look around, this is truly a city within a city.”