Every year, we here at Westchester Magazine try to get at least one bite of every burger competing in our Burger & Beer Blast. It’s a Herculean task, and with so many amazing local competitors it’s not gotten any easier over the years.
If you want to be wiser than us, you may want to jot down a few favorites to make sure you hit them up before your waistband gives out. To that end, we thought we’d introduce a quartet of booths to look for this June 6, including last year’s winner, Coals Pizza, and Second Place runner up, Rye Roadhouse. Also be sure to check out all of our Wine & Food Fest events coverage!
What will you be bringing to this year’s Burger & Beer Blast?
Billy Etzel, Coals Pizza: “We’re doing a beef burger with smoked Gouda, house-made bread & butter pickles, shredded iceberg lettuce, and spicy aioli.”
Scott Frantangelo, L’Inizio: “A smoked chicken burger on a potato roll with BBQ aioli, Gouda fondue, and house-made coleslaw.”
Greg DeMarco, Rye Roadhouse: “This year we will be serving a chicken fried burger smothered in a spicy Andouille sausage gravy and served on a warm country biscuit.”
Nick Trascari, Wooden Spoon: “This year we bringing the ultimate brunch burger a bacon jelly donut cheeseburger — sweet and savory bacon jam on top of a cheddar cheese burger, on a yeast donut roll.”
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What’s a common mistake people tend to make that can ruin a good burger?
Coals Pizza: “The worst thing to do to a burger is to smash it down on the cooking surface (unless you’re going for one of those “smashed” burgers). That just pushes all the juices out. Be gentle!
L’Inizio: “Common mistakes include overcooking or under seasoning the burger.”
Rye Roadhouse: “A common mistake we’ve seen is over-mixing the patty, which can create a tougher chew. Also, you have to be sure the burger is the main ingredient and shines no matter the style of preparation.”
Wooden Spoon: “The easiest way to ruin a burger is smothering it in too much sauce. Too much sauce completely hides the burgers flavor and can make your bun too soggy and/or ruin your bun.”
How is Westchester and the greater Hudson Valley represented in your burger?
L’Inizio: “Just like most of the ingredients on our menu, we try our best to source locally. Our meat is from Mosner Family Brands, which has been a family-owned and operated purveyor in the Bronx for three generations. We have formed a relationship with the family, who lives in Westchester, and love that they supply hormone-free and antibiotic-free meat. In addition, our bread is from Pane D’oro in Yonkers and the cabbage for the coleslaw is from a local farm.”
Rye Roadhouse: “At the Rye Roadhouse we serve a fairly unique cuisine for the area, with Cajun, Creole, and Southern influences throughout our menu. We’ve been at it for over 10 years now and feel we are satisfying the comfort food desires of Westchester County and the greater Hudson Valley. There have been a number of southern themed restaurants that have opened in recent years which we love to see. The demand is there and we are proud to be one of the ambassadors bringing the flavor of New Orleans and the south to our area.”
Wooden Spoon: “We are using locally sourced cheddar cheese and bacon that is farmed locally.”
Coal’s winner 2018 entry, a flame-grilled slider made from a short rib and chuck blend smothered in Buffalo sauce and topped with Vermont cheddar cheese, red onion, and a creamy guacamole.
What kind of beer would you ideally pair with your burger?
Coals Pizza: “Honestly, whatever you like to drink. If I’m drinking beer I like a brown ale, but nothing beats a chocolate shake!”
L’Inizio: “During the festival, I recommend pairing the beer with something on the lighter side from Captain Lawrence or a Blue Moon Summer Honey Wheat. After the event, the burger will be available at the restaurant, where I would suggest pairing it with the Broken Bow Mosaic.”
Rye Roadhouse: “We love either a mildly hoppy IPA to counter the spice of the Andouille, or you can never go wrong with an ice-cold lager to wash down all the flavors packed into our little sliders!”
Wooden Spoon: “I’m [currently] drinking a Captain Lawrence grapefruit IPA. This is my go-to beer when eating a burger. It has just enough hops to not get lost with the burger.”
What are you most excited for about competing in the Burger & Beer Blast? Who are you raring to go head-to-head with?
Coals Pizza: “I’m most looking forward to the part after the competition when we’re done cooking 900 burgers, but its all fun! Of course Peter Kelley (of X2O) is always the one to look out for. You can always expect something very creative from him.”
L’Inizio: “I love showcasing our bar menu with the burger during the event. It’s a great time, with lots of people. I also enjoy scoping out the food trucks.”
Rye Roadhouse: “We are most excited to be part of the event since its inception. The crowds are truly energizing and really make the experience so special. Being a part of bringing happiness to our broader community through food and service is why we do what we do! And being in the company of such great restaurants under the umbrella of Westchester Magazine is a real honor.”
Wooden Spoon: “We are most excited to improve on our 7th place finish last year. Last year our goal was top 10 and this year we’ve set the goal to finish in the top 5. There will be a few fellow New Rochelle restaurants competing; we’re excited to go head to head with them, and if wee can’t win we definitely want to be the top NewRo finisher.”
What’s something you learned from previous Burger Blasts?
Coals Pizza: “I learned that I should bring a clean shirt in case I’m fortunate enough to be brought up to the winner’s stage again.”
L’Inizio: “Cut the burgers in half so we reduce food waste! We work often with Feeding Westchester, so we are always looking to see how we can reduce waste and help feed the 1 in 5 food insecure people in Westchester.”
Rye Roadhouse: “Be ready to serve a TON of burgers in a relatively short period of time!”
Wooden Spoon: “We’ve learned from our previous Burger Blast appearances that there is no such thing as being ahead on burgers. Anytime we thought we had enough cooked off and took a break cooking we ran out and were playing from behind. The goal is to serve as many as possible. Temporarily running out means you are missing opportunities to win chips. There are so many delicious burgers under the tent that people won’t stand by waiting for you to make more, they are onto the next table.”
Thanks to everyone for making last night so special, particularly our terrific staff, our friends and our families. But let’s not forget @westchestermagazine @intoxikatefoodie @lohudfood @wmwineandfood @tonionnewyork @patlafrieda @potatorolls @franksredhot @donnadishes @turianojohn @manhattan-beer @foodgetaboutit and a whole lot more!
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