Resto

resto burger

burger w/ frites

It took me a long time, but I finally made it to Resto.

Situated just inside Park Avenue on 29th Street, Resto is a beautiful thing. Many tables for two line the wall and tables for four or more are spread around the restaurant. Tucked inside a novel, the beer list features a number of interesting selections, including a cherry-inflected, bubbly beer that my lady dining partner ordered. (It was filled with vim and vigor, and filled me with the same.)

Resto is known for their meat, but especially for their burger. (Vegetarians, look elsewhere.) And it’s clear why. Topped with a fried egg, the Resto burger (a hefty lunch price of $15) has gruyere cheese, red onion, pickle and mayonnaise on a potato roll. It’s accompanied by cubic frites, which lack flavor and are definitely not the highlight of the dish. No, that would be the burger. With one of the juiciest patties I’ve had in a long time, Resto’s burger sits among the very top of my best burgers of all time–right up there with the Shake Shack. So, is it better than the Shake Shack? Well, the two burgers are not in the same category. It’s apples and oranges, really. Resto’s is a good restaurant burger that can be compared to Saxon + Parole (whose burger is, incidentally, also topped with a fried egg), while the Shake Shack’s burger can only be compared to Burger Joint or the likes of Five Guys.

resto drink

cherry beer

My lady dining partner ordered the Tete de Cochon Po’ Boy, which she said was delightfully delicious. It boasted no adornments or sides, but instead came positioned in the center of a large plate with two homemade toothpicks piercing each half of the sandwich.

We didn’t try dessert, but I’m sure I’ll go back to Resto sometime soon to try their dinner menu on for size.

Even if you’re not in the neighborhood, I recommend making the trip to Resto–especially for that burger (which may or may not be served at dinnertime).

Resto

29th Street and Park Avenue

Take the 6 to 28th Street and walk north one block.

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F. Ottomanelli Burgers and Belgian Fries

My mom always says, “A simple menu is a recipe for success.” She’s right, and that couldn’t be closer to the truth at F. Ottomanelli Burgers and Belgian Fries, where, as owner Frank Ottomanelli puts it, “we have a small menu so we can bring the freshest ingredients to our customers.” Surely, they’ve succeeded.

And it’s not just the fresh ingredients that will keep customers coming back for more. It’s the gracious hospitality with which customers are met. While we were enjoying our burgers, Frank came over to my dining partner and I and asked if we had tried the special sauces for the fries (I’ll get to them later). We hadn’t, so he decided to bring them over to us … with an order of freshly prepared fries. You simply don’t get that kind of service at most places.

As part of a butcher dynasty, F. Ottomanelli is practically neighbors with its meat supplier, S. Ottomanelli and Sons, a Woodside institution. “The meat is always fresh. We grind it at the butcher store,” Frank says. “Our goal is to sell all the ingredients by the end of the day so that we can start fresh the next day,” he continues. At this rate, they’re bound to do just that.

I’ll break down the burgers and fries for you, part by part, so that you can have the best idea possible of what to expect from F. Ottomanelli.

F. Ottomanelli Burger

f. ottomanelli burger

The meat: It was nothing less than completely juicy and delectable. I wouldn’t say it’s the most flavorful hamburger I’ve had (Shake Shack is the gold standard in this category), but it’s a burger I’ll likely crave at some point. And, as one of the only true burger joints in the area, it’s inevitable that I’ll return for that juicy patty.

The bun: Big and puffy, as my dining partner said, but definitely delicious, the bun adds something to the burger; it isn’t an afterthought. My only concern is that the bun might seem like too much bread to those ordering the “junior” (or single patty) burger. Am I wrong? Tell me, if so.

The toppings: Here’s where I have a gripe. I ordered mustard, mayo and grilled onions to top my burger. (The burgers come standardized with lettuce, tomato, and ketchup.) I felt that there could have been more toppings to go around. What the Shake Shack and Burger Garage seem to do best is they distribute a large amount of toppings for the double burgers. I felt that Ottomanelli’s double burger received as much toppings as a single might have. Lay it on, I say! I’d rather use a knife to remove some of the toppings than feel I have a dry burger.

In other news, if you order, say, a caramelized onion burger, apparently, Ottomanelli will mix in the caramelized onion with your beef and serve up a patty with the onions embedded in it. I’ll definitely try this next time I go.

F. Ottomanelli Belgian Fries

f. ottomanelli belgian fries

The Belgian fries: Cubic and beam-like, the Belgian fries are certainly a notable part of the menu. The quality of the potatoes shows through, and their freshness is definitely an enjoyable element of the fries experience.

The fries sauces: The ones I liked best were the creamy and cheesy Rosemary Parmesan, the flavor-that’s-hard-to-place European Mayo, and spicy Chipotle. There was also Malt Vinegar, Buffalo Sauce, and Hot Sauce, which I don’t care for, but MDP enjoyed the MV.

I highly recommend the sauces, so be sure to ask for them when you go.

The service: Excellent. I think I rankled the nerves of the woman who was taking my order, but ultimately, the service was fantastic. Frank came over to our table, beaming as he talked about the new restaurant and all the press it’s already getting (Time Out New York is going to feature F. Ottomanelli in an upcoming issue!). I appreciated his time and his words.

So, even if you’re not from Queens, you definitely want to check out F. Ottomanelli Burgers and Belgian Fries. They’re top-of-the-notch and possibly the best in the borough. (For you Donovan’s fans, this place gives D a run for its money. And triumphs, in my opinion.)

To Ottomanelli: Please put up a website soon. Don’t let your customers rely on the totally unreliable Yelp to find and enjoy your place!

 

Recipe Attempted: In-N-Out Burger, Double Double, Animal Style

I’m a big fan of hamburgers, if you haven’t noticed.

When we went to San Diego, I tried for the first time In-N-Out Burger. The special sauce was addicting. The cute wax paper wrapper reminded me of the Shake Shack, but I trust that In-N-Out did the wax paper wrap first.

So, how does In-N-Out Burger compare with the Shake Shack? Ah, the age old question. It’s nearly impossible to know for certain that one is better than the other because the burger joints are on opposite coasts. A five hour plane ride could ruin the important, delicious facets of either burger.

I took matters into my own hands. Instead of pining for In-N-Out Burger, I decided to try making my own Double Double, Animal Style 

.

double double animal style

in-n-out's double double animal style by me

As you can see in the link I shared above, the recipe is quite long. But that’s only because they urge you to create your own ground beef, a part of the recipe I did not follow. I simply bought some ground chuck from the supermarket and proceeded to step five. The recipe calls for squishy hamburger buns, but I opted for the potato buns that I bought from Whole Foods. I made the onions according to plan and assembled the burger as recommended.

Made of mayonnaise, ketchup, white vinegar, sweet pickle relish, and sugar, the sauce was right on the money. I wondered how Serious Eats came to know In-N-Out’s recipe…

My dining partner and I ended up eating only one patty of the sandwich. As you can see in the above picture, the sandwich was huge and unwieldy with two patties. He ate his second patty with a fork and knife, and I elected to toss mine. I served crisp, matchstick fries with the burgers.

If Shake Shack doesn’t do it for you any more, I urge you to try making your own In-N-Out burgers. It’s fun and yields delicious output. How could you resist?

Smashburger: Classic Smashburger

I had heard good things about Smashburger. Some say its burgers rival those of the Shake Shack. Naturally, I was intrigued. Now that I’ve tried it, “overly hyped” and “why isn’t my cheese melted” are the only phrases that come to mind.

The ordering experience is slightly disorienting at Smashburger. You are directed to take a menu and decide what you want. Chicken is on one side; burgers on the other. I’m not sure why chicken gets so much real estate at a place called Smashburger, but that’s just me.

My burger was just okay. The egg bun looked different than I thought it would and the burger was much larger than I had expected (they’re 1/3 pound patties, but you can also order a 1/2 pounder). It was dripping with a certain special smash sauce which tasted like relish. The burger was unwieldy–too many toppings, too big of a patty and too massive a bun. And my biggest gripe of all — the cheese wasn’t melted. I hate when burger places do this, as though they’re too busy to melt the cheese for you. What’s up with that?

smashburger

My partner’s burger, also unwieldy, was fine, but I wouldn’t order that if I visited again. In fact, I won’t visit again so I guess ordering decisions won’t be much of a problem in my life.

I ordered the Smashfries on the side of my burger. They’re tossed in rosemary, olive oil and garlic and are pretty decent as far as fries go. However, I’m not a fries person, so don’t trust my word.

smashfries

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend Smashburger unless, of course, you live near DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn. For Manhattanites, it certainly isn’t worth the trek.

The One and Only ShackField

SHAKE SHACK AT CITI FIELD

shakesh

Oh, Danny Meyer!

I know the Mets season may soon come to an end. Or it should. Put the people out of New York out of their misery, please.

If you happen to intentionally attend a Mets game or take a ride on the 7 toward Flushing on a game day, I highly recommend paying the ticket price at Citi Field and trying the Shake Shack aka ShackField.

The line feels shorter than Madison Square Park. Incentive enough to see the Mets?

I think so.

It’s a Love Story

First of all, the quality at ShackField is as exquisitely perfect as the original Shack’s. I am not a fan of the Upper West Side faux Shack. While the line’s length varies, my burgers have been consistently greasy. And one time they put pickles on my ShackBurger. Get with the program, UWS. ShackField is far, far superior to UWS–an impressive feat considering the fact that ShackField is, you know, at a baseball stadium and the UWS “Shack” is an actual restaurant. Props to ShackField.

Hunger-inducing photograph of Double Shack

Hunger-inducing photograph of Double Shack

Second, the limited menu is, undoubtedly, what speeds up the process. Don’t expect a regular ol’ hamburger or cheeseburger or ‘Shroom (sorry veg-heads!) at ShackField. The classic ShackBurger comes in two speeds: mild heart attack (single) and triple bypasss (double). I opted for the TB–and I’m alive to write about it.

Third, the fries are somehow more delicious than the original Shack’s. Their crusty, crunchy godliness is elevated by extra salt methinks. Thank you, ShackField.

Another Menu to Burn

The biggest problem with ShackField is the price: ShackBurgers cost $5.75; Double Shacks go for a whopping $8.75 (well worth it); and regular fries–that may be slightly less generous in portion–are $5.25.

If you’re into Concretes, don’t get your hopes up. No such thing at ShackField. Shakes, custard–yes, yes. For ice cream, try Carvel. You could take home an adorable helmet cup ($6 and change). I’m eating yogurt out of mine right now.

Tied Together With (or Without) a Smile

Remote interest in baseball? Or Queens? The 7? Check out ShackField. Also, if you’re tired of long lines at Madison Square Park’s Shack, you might prefer the Queens borough version. (I realize it will cost at least $50 for a ShackBurger.)

What’s more important: your money or your time?

And what’s most important?

The Shake Shack
Citi Field
7 train to Mets-Willets Point during game times