Chateau au Poivre is a small but mighty pepper-crusted steak...

Chateau au Poivre is a small but mighty pepper-crusted steak at Novo Steakhouse in Lawrence. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

From sushi to French steakhouse, this Five Towns restaurant just got a beefy revamp. The Central Avenue space that was previously MUR sushi is now NOVO, an upscale restaurant and catering venue for kosher celebrations. 

General manager Soso Bokuchava, whose hospitality group NOVO Hospitality owns 18 concepts in France, said he was looking for a restaurant venue where he could also do events when he saw MUR and was impressed by its size. He bought out the restaurant and kept the previous owner on to manage the new business' kosher operations. Now he's working with Bryan Camacho, a former colleague at Manhattan's famed Cipriani Italian restaurant, to run the Lawrence venue. The darkly lit but glitzy space has three private dining rooms that fit up to 150 people. 

You'll find a combination of Italian and French dishes on the menu, alongside a healthy list of kosher wines from places like Italy and Israel. (Bokuchava is also a trained sommelier.) 

Rigatoni Bolognese ($28) is a well-executed appetizer with housemade rigatoni pasta and a savory tomato meat sauce. In keeping with kosher steakhouse practices, there is no Parmesan cheese (or any dairy) in the building, but you'll hardly notice the plant-based butter and ice cream standing in. Entrees include beef Bourguignon ($45), a seared loup de mer fish with curried couscous and avocado ($43) and a bistro burger with hand-cut fries and truffle mayo ($38).

Rigatoni Bolognese with a lush meat sauce at Novo Steakhouse...

Rigatoni Bolognese with a lush meat sauce at Novo Steakhouse in Lawrence. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

But many will skip to the steaks, which run between $65 for a bone-in prime rib-eye to $195 for a 40-ounce tomahawk. You don't often see château a poivre on a menu, so that's worth a splurge, even at $72 for a smallish 12-ounce portion. The filet mignon is sliced back in the kitchen, so it arrives with its juicy red center peeping out from each pepper-crusted slice. It's fabulous dipped into the rich Bordelaise sauce on the side, but it all disappears too quickly. To beef things up, consider ordering a side of the crispy truffle French fries ($14) to create that coveted steak frites experience. 

The showiest dish of the evening is actually the dessert, a trio of housemade profiteroles that were doused in chocolate sauce at the table. Split in half with ice cream centers, the cream puffs look like they are wearing edible wizard hats of puffy pastry dough, bedecked with edible pearls of sugar that add a little crunch. 

NOVO, 314 Central Ave., Lawrence, 516-260-6341, Open 5-10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 5-10:30 p.m. Thursday, closed Friday, 5-11 p.m. Saturday. 

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