I had a business dinner and as I was uncertain of food at Republic (does anyone have word on this yet?), we opted for Mastro's since people seemed to be raving about it, albeit mostly the one in Costa Mesa.
First, the place is expensive - if you eat "normally" (meaning, a drink, a steak, a side, share some appetizers/greens/dessert), you are looking at around $100/person.
So, for such a price I do not understand how the waiter tries to fill every glass of water every two seconds in order to open another to charge you another $8.00 for water- that is ridiculous. It is really a pet peeve when a waiter takes advantage of a situation (date, dinner with client, etc.) to try to run up the bill knowing that you probably do not want to appear worried about the bill (but I left a note on the bill with his tip advising him that even if people do not say something it does not mean his actions go unnoticed.)
The ambiance is dark (some people requested penlights to read the menu) and clubby with lots of older guys toting bimbettes/escorts or possibly very good looking grandaughters to dinner. This is not a classy place, unless you consider classy an upscale strip club atmosphere without strippers. (I don't...)
But that said, the sommelier, head waiter/manager were both very accomodating and professional, you are not rushed and the meat is super tender (do they massage or bathe it in milk? it is that tender..)and the flavor is very well achieved. It seems like they could cook your meat to perfection, no matter what temperature or degree of cooking you want. We had a tough table - 1 well done veal chop, 1 medium veal chop, 1 black & blue ribeye, and 1 medium-rare bone in filet - each came out exactly as desired and all 4 meats arrived at the same time. (I would recommend the bone in filet and veal chop out of the group - and I the filet is not my favorite cut in most situations, but with the bone it was very good. As was the steak sashimi appetizer.)
The sides were solid and not overbearing, although the lyonnaise potatoes are not worth it. The sugar snap peas were as good as you could want, the sauteed spinach was satisfying, the creamed corn was too creamy for me, but others enjoyed it.
Wines by the glass and by the bottle are evenly spaced between moderate to expensive so that you have choices in several price categories, even if they were not all exciting wines.
Overall, I would go back - but as it fills a niche, not as a regular stop or even a place to go simply because I want steak. It does not hold the flavor or personality of a Peter Luger's or other independent steakhouses one finds, but it surpasses the chains a la Ruth Chriss, the Palm (which i do not find worth its name or legacy)and if I have to pay an extra $30 to avoid Nick and Stef's - I would do so again and again. But for $100/person, I could have an overall better meal at many restaurants (or two or three meals for that matter...)