Bordentown, New Jersey: Mastoris Diner Serves Up Massive Burgers
144 U.S. 130, Bordentown, NJ (map); 609-298-4650; mastoris.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: Giant hamburgers are constructed from house ground sirloin and served on homemade buns. Toppings work best on this burger.
Want Fries with That? They come with the burger, but they're just generic steak fries. The accompanying coleslaw is excellent.
Price: $9.75 - $10.50
Mastoris is massive in every way. The restaurant is so large that it has several themed rooms, each of which would make for a large restaurant by itself. You can choose between the "Diner" room, which lives up to its name by looking like a typical Jersey diner, or the "Rockwell Room" in the back, which is a tribute to Norman Rockwell. I chose to dine in the "Mastoris Lounge"—with its wood paneling and oil paintings, I hoped a bit of the steakhouse vibe would rub off on the burgers.
The menu is also massive—the sandwich and burger menu alone has over 100 items—and the portions are simply enormous. Before you even order, two giant pieces of homemade bread (one made with cinnamon the other stuffed with a sweet cheese) are deposited on your table, and you could just eat those and be full. But that's just the beginning. Burgers clock in at 3/4-pounds each and come with a huge plate of fries and coleslaw.
The good news about the burgers is that they're ground in house from fresh, never frozen sirloin. The burger is served on a homemade bun that is admirable not only for its softness, airiness, and pleasing chewiness, but because it's able to contain the buxom patty without wilting or crumbling. Not that you will be able to get you gob around the sandwich, unless you are Andre the Giant or have a jaw that decouples.
The regular cheeseburger comes with a paltry two slices of white American cheese. This would be the right amount for a quarter-pound burger, but on the Mastoris patty the cheese is a mere rumor. To add insult to injury, the cheese was scorched—not that I could really notice through all the beef and bread, but still, it was a bit careless.
The beef was just fine—perfectly cooked to the medium rare ordered with a nice thick mahogany crust and a decent amount of juice. It had a decent, but not great flavor. I'm not usually a fan of sirloin, preferring the bawdy mouth feel of a straight chuck. Although serving sirloin burgers may carry the implication that one is using top steak, this is generally not the case, as sirloin can refer to several different cuts: It can be the top sirloin, which is also referred to as the strip (or NY strip), or the bottom sirloin, which is less tender and most often what burgers are made from.
Despite the decent flavor and moderate juiciness of the beef, the sheer size of the plain burger made it difficult to attain any synergy—it was hard to get both the bread and beef into a single bite just using hands. Knife and fork are required, which sort of defeats the purpose of a sandwich.
I also tried the Mastoris Burger, which comes topped with pepperoni, tomato, red onion, and melted provolone. The cheese was applied in a far more generous amount than the plain cheeseburger, and while the flavor combination was anything but traditional it seems that this is the type of burger you come to Mastoris for. The plain burger is just that: plain. But doctored with toppings—the menu has twelve "composed" burgers—and devoured with a knife and fork, Mastoris' burgers offer an oversized, bang-for-the-buck value proposition using mostly homemade ingredients (the steak fries seem prepackaged).
I should note that you need to order your burgers rare or medium rare if you want your burger freshly cooked (which, of course, you do). Burgers ordered medium are par-cooked ahead of time due to their sheer size.