Spouses and business partners Isaac Becker and Nancy St. Pierre are an unprecedented three for three.

First came 112 Eatery in 2005. Bar La Grassa followed four years later. And now their third equally ambitious effort, Burch Steak and Pizza Bar, is once again the Star Tribune's Restaurant of the Year.

That's right, a steakhouse, but one that abandons the genre's hidebound rituals, starting with the first-rate pizzeria operating in the restaurant's rathskeller-like basement.

Once again, Becker has proved himself to be the Tom Hanks of chefs, that rare combination of prodigious skill coupled with an intuitively populist touch. His vision for Burch — a fruitful collaboration with Bar La Grassa alum Daniel del Prado — bears that out, pleasantly surprising and effortlessly delighting diners at every seemingly familiar turn.

Like its sibling establishments, the Burch experience is buffed to a high gloss because St. Pierre and her front-of-the-house crew are fluent in the language of hospitality. Another plus: Julie Snow Architects tapped into the inner beauty locked within a battered 100-year-old commercial building (one caveat: the place has a tendency to grow ear-crushingly loud). It was a first-time restaurant commission for the firm, but hopefully not the last.

This level of success prompts the question: Is there a fourth restaurant in this supercouple? Here's hoping.

Awards of excellence

North Loop phenomenon: Between the loft-of-your-dreams setting, the exciting and ever-changing contemporary fare from chefs Tyler Shipton and Nick O'Leary and barkeep Jesse Held's trendsetting libations, Borough (and Parlour, its lower-level cocktail haven) cemented the North Loop's place as the Twin Cities' hottest dining-and-drinking district.

Neighborhood newcomer: At the Lynn on Bryant, chef/owner Peter Ireland skillfully weaves together a wealth of assets — particularly a stylishly modern storefront setting and self-assured, flavor-laden and seasonally sensitive cooking — to create a role model of a neighborhood restaurant that resonates across ZIP codes.

Seafood success story: When Union opened in late 2012, the dazzling rooftop garnered all the attention. And customers. So owner Kam Talebi tapped chef Lucas Almendinger to transform the restaurant's underperforming street-level dining room, and Union Fish Market instantly became a top seafood destination.