. by Anthony M. Fuda
. Another year in the books, or shall I say, another year of burgers in our stomachs. A lot has happened this year, since our 2010 Burger of the Year presentation. In fact, 2011 has been our best year yet, thanks to the tremendous reader participation that we’ve received. With all of the Facebook comments and messages, and all of the email to our firstname.lastname@example.org account, we have compiled a list of over 40 restaurants, bars, taverns and pubs located in NE Ohio and Western PA. Some places have had several referrals, others, just one. We’re going to chow our way through the most popular eateries, so get your votes in so we can check out your favorite burger joint! We’ve visited many places in 2011, tasted many, many burgers, and came away with some new favorites, some great places to continue to visit, and made a number of new friends along the way.
. 2011 also brought our group some local television coverage. In September, Casey Malone featured us on her weekly program, The Casey Malone Show – Local Flavor. The Casey you see on her show, is really Casey – a terrific person and truly genuine. We hope we can get her to come along on another review, soon. It was a great experience and we had a great time with new friends and awesome food.
. Then, at the end of October, we received a call from WYTV 33′s very own Stan Boney! They featured us in a segment on the 5:30 PM News broadcast that aired November 1st. JT and I went to the WYTV/WKBN/WYFX studios to be interviewed by Stan. We had a lot of fun. Even sitting in the lobby/waiting room was interesting, with the evening news anchors walking back and forth.
. We were escorted to the newsroom via a series of narrow hallways and staircases that would have been a difficult maze to negotiate if we were alone. When we arrived at the newsroom, the doors opened and we went from the narrow basement hallway, to a very, very spacious newsroom. It felt as though we were walking into mission control at NASA.
. We saw many familiar faces from the News. While Stan was anchoring the broadcast, we met and very much enjoyed talking with Meteorologist Paul Wetzl, who happens to be the Vice-President of the Ohio Valley Gelbvieh Association. The O.V.G.A. is an organization showcasing Ohio cattle auctions, events, breeders and anything else that has to do with raising Ohio beef. If anyone can answer the question, “where’s the beef?” Paul can!
. Eventually, we took our seats on the set for the interview from Stan. I think JT and myself did a decent job for our first live TV news interview! (You can watch it by clicking on the picture of Stan.) We are waiting for an offer for our own weekly burger segment, but until then, we will happily make a trip back and keep Stan and his viewers updated on our burger findings.
. Finally, in December, the WYTV, WKBN, and WYFX news teams covered our 2011 Burger of the Year presentation to Sunrise Inn co-owners and cousins, Kenny and Dino Haidaris. Kenny, recognizing our talent, asked us to join him in a commercial highlighting the award. To celebrate the award, Sunrise Inn has declared January 2012 as “Burger Month!” They will be featuring the Dirty Dozen — 12 new, improved burgers on the menu. We dressed in our best “mob” apparel and made our commercial debut. It was a lot of fun and we hope it helps get the word out on how great the Sunrise Inn burgers are!
. We’ve received dozens upon dozens of excellent suggestions on different Mahoning Valley burgers to check out. Of the 12 Valley restaurants we’ve visited in 2011, 6 of the burgers rated 4 stars or higher. The 3 1/2 star burgers are no slouches, either. Their rankings are:
#10 – The Youngstown Sports Grille
#9 - Jeremiah Bullfrog’s
#8 – Up a Creek Tavern
#7 – Barry Dyngle’s Pub
. Just because the above burgers didn’t make it to the “4 star club,” doesn’t mean they’re not tasty – it only means, there are better!
. You can see the complete, official review for each of the following places by clicking the pictures.
A very “classy” sports bar/tavern with a very, flavorful, juicy, 4 star burger. The huge stone fireplace, the oak accents, TV’s at each table, the Blue Wolf is as comfortable as you can get, going out to watch the game. A great menu, the burgers can easily be overlooked… DON’T!
#5 – MOJO’s Pub & Grille, 6292 Mahoning Ave., Austintown, Ohio 44515 330-793-6656
Owner, Johnny Marino definitely has a “rock’n,” savory, 4 star burger on the grill! The Rock & Roll theme restaurant has a fun menu with a great burger section! If you’re a Buckeye fan, you have to check out the Ohio State bar, downstairs! MOJO’s is two bars in one!
#4 – Big L’s Blind Pig, 4826 State Route 5, Bazetta, Ohio 44410 330-638-1302
You don’t have to know a secret password to get this burger, and you will enjoy it. This is one of the hidden gems that we’ve stumbled upon in our journeys. NOT your run-in-the-mill, bar burger. We rated this one 4 stars! If you get a chance, try the burgers at Big L’s! It’s a fun place with a nostalgic, mobster theme.
#3 – Quaker Steak & Lube, 101 Chestnut St., Sharon, PA 16146 724-981-9464
Quaker Steak and Lube may have made their name seving delicious wings covered in savory sauces, but we’re here to tell you, TRY THE BURGERS! The burgers at “the Lube” may take the back seat on the menu, but we rated them higher than 75% of burgers we’ve reviewed in 2011! 4 Stars!
#2 – Royal Oaks Bar & Grill, 924 Oak St., Youngstown, Ohio 44506 330-744-5501
“It’s in the hood, and it’s all good!” Not only did the owners, the Kennedy brothers, put up with our burger scrutiny, Louie Kennedy kept us entertained our entire visit! His stories had us in stitches by the end of the evening! We attest to brother, John Kennedy’s quote, “If you don’t have a great time here, there’s something wrong with YOU!” Known for their awesome ribs and chicken, the Oaks’ burgers will not disappoint! For a good time and amazing food, check out The Royal Oaks.
#1 – Sunrise Inn, 510 E. Market St., Warren, Oh 44481 330-392-5176
Our choice for the 2011 Burger of the Year. The freshly ground, well seasoned, perfectly cooked Angus beef, combined with fresh, creative toppings, and served on a fresh baked Boule roll, has earned this burger our highest rating that we have given in three years – 4 1/2 stars! Sunrise Inn has long been known for their excellent Italian Cuisine, including their award winning pizza. We were surprised and pleased to find the attention that they have given their burgers.