261 Moore Street, Brooklyn NY 11206 (map); 718-417-1118; robertaspizza.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: Insanely tasty burger made with prime dry-aged LaFrieda chopped meat is certainly the great fancy-pants burger bargain in NYC (and maybe anywhere)
Want Fries With That? "Fries" are irregularly cut fingerlings that are crunchy and crisp on the outside and creamy and tender on the inside
Price: Cheeseburger, $12
Note: Only available at lunch
Since I arrived early for a business lunch at Roberta's, I decided to do the ordering for my lunch companion. Without even thinking about the fact that she's what she calls herself a recovering vegetarian, I ordered a cheeseburger, a pizza with sausage among other toppings, and a calzone loaded with ham. She arrived just about the same time the cheeseburger did, which would've maybe been okay except that the cheeseburger was so damn good our business conversation ground to a halt.
Who knew that the Roberta's folks—justifiably renowned for their pizza, their way with pork, and the tasting menus that are so popular there are currently 400 people on its wait list—served a killer burger that would render me speechless?
According to Roberta's co-owner Brandon Hoy, the burger is made from dry-aged beef trimmings ground and delivered every day from the burger masters Pat LaFrieda. And when I say dry-aged I mean seriously dry-aged. This was a burger that exploded with funky, beefy, flavor.
Topped with American cheese and a slice of raw onion, the about seven-ounce patty came on a housemade potato bun that looked too fancy-pants and wide, but was in fact just right—chewier and crustier than your typical squishy Martin's potato roll without being tough. Cooked medium rare by default, the patty was really juicy thanks to the 80/20 meat-to-fat ratio and the just coarse enough grind.
I don't know if it's as good as the Black Label burger at Minetta Tavern, but it's certainly in that league. At $12 for a big, fat cheeseburger that comes with a delicious variety of fried potatoes that looked like irregularly shaped fingerlings, it's a bargain with a capital B. In fact, I might venture to say that bite for bite, dollar for dollar, it's the best burger in New York City. I know, who needs to hear that there is yet another burger tagged with "the best of" moniker, but damn it, the Roberta's burger deserves it.
About the author: Ed Levine is the founder of Serious Eats.