We rated the burgers at one of the area’s finer restaurants. Click the pickle to read our review of the Stone Bridge Grille.
Beginning in February, 2012, our reviews are appearing in the Valley Food page of the Youngstown Vindicator, as well as on the Vindy.com website. That’s right! You can follow us in the Vindicator, every four weeks on Wednesdays, as we eat our way through the most popular burger-joints in the valley.
. We don’t just randomly pick places, we stop at the ones most frequently suggested to us. So, get your nominee for the best burger to us so we can spread the word by getting them into the Vindicator. Every year, since 2009, we award the best burger with the Burger of the Year award. When we’ve exhausted our burger “Hit List,” we will name the #1 Burger in the Mahoning Valley!
. We are also making road trips to sample burgers at popular eateries anywhere between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. So, if you have a favorite place that flips a mean burger, that’s not local, we still want to know about it!
And finally, we have Eric “The Eliminator” Clark on our team. He’s looking for the best burger “challenges” in NE Ohio and Western PA! Eric has an appetite and will travel, so let us know where the BIG burgers are!
. 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 email@example.com 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.
MVBRB names Sunrise Inn as 2011 Burger of the Year
By Anthony M. Fuda
. There were some really good burgers in the Mahoning Valley this year, but after all was said and done, the Mahoning Valley Burger Review Board (MVBRB) awarded 2011’s Burger of the Year to Sunrise Inn (Warren).
. So, what set them apart from the 14 other burgers we reviewed this year? A little bit of everything. The burger was huge (calling it a half pound is on the light side); the boule bun (nice and crispy on the outside, yet soft on the inside); and the flavor was prominent all through the beef.
. JT said, “The seasoning is just perfect. The toppings are creative and delicious. But for me, it’s the bun. That fresh baked, crispy crust on the outside, soft in the middle, boule bun is what pushes this burger to the top!”
. Greg said, “The burger was big, juicy, cooked to perfection and was well seasoned. The boule bun also made the burger experience that much better. It’s the best bun I have had in the time I have been on the board. Also, to reiterate from the previous review, this burger is the biggest 8 oz burger by far. Either they serve 10 oz burgers and say they are 8 oz or all the other 8 oz burgers we tried were only 6 oz.”
. Scott also said the bun was “a contributing factor, as well as the huge, flavor-filled burger.”
. I have been back to Sunrise for their burgers three times since our review, and all three times the burgers were just as good as the first. I also recommend the sweet potato fries because they are delicious, thick and cooked just right.
. Sunrise Inn is known for the pizza and pasta they serve, and now you can add hamburgers to the top of the list when you visit.
. Sunrise co-owner Kenny Haidaris said, “We are very happy to win the Burger of the Year award.” He also mentioned that “burger business has doubled since the review.” He explains that one reason their burgers are so good is because they “grind the beef fresh every day in the restaurant.” He adds, “When you get a burger from a restaurant that does’t grind their own, you just don’t know what you’re going to get, or how old it is.”
. This is the first Burger Award Sunrise has won, but they have won Best Pizza in the Tribune Reader’s Choice contest every year since it started.
. Follow this link for video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZkVkkfPBgQ&feature=youtu.be
. We would also like to acknowledge some of our servers so you can ask for them by name when you go to any of these fine eateries: Bergen Giordani (Royal Oaks), Kayla Sefcik (Barry Dyngle’s), Loke Kalima (MOJO’s), Jennifer Munholand (Blue Wolf), Angela Alberini (Up A Creek), and Vanessa Carpenter (Charlie Staples).
. We would like to thank WYTV, WKBN, and WYFX for again covering our Burger of the Year award banquet.
. We look forward to another year of great burgers. Next year we will be incorporating a new feature with our reviews called Daytrips. These will be NE Ohio and Western PA establishments that a lot of people frequent and relayed to us, because of their great burgers. Keep reading our reviews in the Review Newspaper, and at http://www.burgerguyz. wordpress.com. And friend us on Facebook at Hamburger Review Board and tell us where we should go next, because we are still looking for that elusive 5 star burger!
MVBRB gives the Barry Dyngles’ burger a taste
By Anthony M. Fuda
. The Mahoning Valley Burger Review Board (MVBRB) guys made their way to Barry Dyngles (Austintown) this month in their quest to find the Mahoning Valley’s best burger.
. Barry Dyngles, formerly Armadillo’s BBQ, has over 200 awards for their Ribs and BBQ sauce, most notably the Pro Football Hall of Fame Grand Champion for the Most Outstanding Ribs & BBQ Sauce and the Grand Champion of the Columbus Ribs & Jazz Festival.
. As we were walking in the pub, we noticed an outside patio section which would be a great place to enjoy a burger during the warmer months.
. Barry Dyngles seems like your run-of-the-mill bar from the outside. After you enter the front doors, you walk through a corridor showcasing local sports memorabilia and daily menu specials. Then you get to the hostess station, where the bar is to the right and to the left is a surprisingly large dining area with ample seating.
. We chose a table in the dining room so we could sit back, relax, and watch the many TVs adorning the walls.
. The waitresses were all very polite, and our always-smiling server Kayla Sefcik made sure our meals were made to our liking and our drinks were always full.
. We looked over the menu and zeroed in on the burgers. There are six on the menu, ranging from $7.99 to $8.99: The Barry Signature Burger (Monterey-Jack cheese, hardwood smoked bacon), Deluxe Cheddar (topped with mild cheddar and American cheese), Mushroom Burger (Swiss cheese and sauteed mushrooms), Bull Rider BBQ Burger (topped with original sauce, Cure-81 ham, mild cheddar cheese and sauteed onions), Smothered Cheeseburger (cheese, peppers, mushrooms and onions), and the Ragin’ Cajun Bleu Burger (Cajun seasoning, topped with crumbled bleu cheese). The burgers are served on a nicely grilled bun, and you can add lettuce, tomato and onions at your request.
. A unique feature they offer is a number of side dishes you can choose from – french fries, cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans or mac-n-cheese.
. The burgers were a very good size, cooked well and the fresh toppings added that little extra to the flavor. The BBQ sauce had a sweet flavor and just the right thickness that flavored the beef just right.
. Eric had the Bull Rider and said, “I thought the ham mingled well with the overall flavor of the meat. The burger was seared well and the red onion and cheese blended perfectly with the snap of pickle. It had a very robust flavor when all combined.”
. JT went with the Barry Signature Burger and said he “loved the thick cut bacon on it. The toppings were all fresh, and the grilled bun held up well. Overall, I think it’s a good burger platter for the money.”
. Next time you’re in Austintown, stop by Barry Dyngles and enjoy one of their fine burgers. You’ll be happy you did, because the meal portions are a good size, the atmosphere is fun and the waitresses treat you so well you feel like you’ve been going there forever.
Friend us on facebook at Hamburger Review Board and keep sending us your comments and burger suggestions. Check http://www.burgerguyz.wordpress.com for all our latest burger news.
MVBRB travels to Pittsburgh to check out the Burgers at Melange Bistro Bar
By Anthony M. Fuda
. The gauntlet was laid down by Melange Bistro Bar for the Mahoning Valley Burger Review Board (MVBRB) in the form of a burger challenge — the Stacker. And board member Eric “the Eliminator” Clark stepped up and accepted. The rest of us accompanied him on his venture so we could see how good Melange’s burgers are.
. Melange is owned by Bobby Bilder and has been in downtown Pittsburgh for three years. The eatery is accessible after any sporting event, theater showing or just for the hungry passerby. The upscale bar/lounge has a modern look with its hardwood floors and suspended lighting and black and white photos. There are tables running the length of the bar for your dining pleasure and comfortable leather couches in the back lounge area. If you go on a Monday during football season, you might see some of the Steeler players catching the Monday Night Football game.
. Melange’s menu sticks to simple dishes, and Bobby classifies his food as “unhealthy,” meaning the emphasis is on flavor. He uses rich ingredients like butter and cream, which add a lot of taste to his dishes.
. The Board members made our way in, and waitress Jenny Gress seated us in front of the two large picture windows so we could see the Pittsburgh nightlife as we enjoyed our burgers. On nice evenings, the windows open, so jazz music from the bar can spill out to the streets and entice customers in.
. The menu offers six half-pound handmade burgers, ranging from $9-$10, and each complemented by a generous portion of steak fries.
. Eric already knew what he as in for with the Stacker – 15 quarter pounders, 15 slices of cheese, 3 potato and onion pierogies, pickles, onions, tomatoes and a handful of fries. ($25, or on the house if you finish it!)
. The rest of us made our choices, going with: the Pittsburgher (American and Swiss cheese, pickles, cole slaw and a fried pierogi), the Yinzer (red peppers and onions, fries, portabella mushrooms and Swiss cheese), the Screamer (Melange’s homemade hot sauce and crumbled blue cheese) and the Big Kahuna (Swiss cheese, bacon, pineapple and guacamole).
. Our burgers arrived, and we enjoyed the juicy flavored beef with the toppings piled high. The buns were freshly toasted, but some of us had to eat our burgers with a fork because the meat and toppings were so abundant.
. The portabella mushrooms on the Yinzer were very hearty and added a nice extra flavor to the tasty seasoned beef.
. Greg went with the the Screamer and said. “The flavor was very good. I’m a spicy food masochist and would have liked the screamer to be hotter, but for a normal person’s taste buds, they will feel the heat.”
. As we finished our burgers, we were all anticipating Eric’s challenge. Bilder brought the undefeated Stacker (16-0-1) and the challenge began with the simplest of rules — “You have one hour to finish it.” It was a closely fought battle, and you can read about it by clicking the picture of “The Stacker.”
. If you are heading to Pittsburgh definitely stop by Melange and enjoy one of Bobby’s tasty burgers, and you might even run into one of the Steeler players. And if you are extra adventurous, take the Stacker’s 15 burger patty challenge.
. Friend us on facebook at Hamburger Review Board and keep sending your comments and burger suggestions. If you’re not on Facebook, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melange Bistro Bar
136 Sixth Street
Pitsburgh, PA 15222
By Anthony M. Fuda
. The Mahoning Valley Burger Review Board (MVBRB) went to the fan request board for this month’s review, and we ended up at The Rig (Howland).
. The Rig is nestled next to Avalon Lakes Golf Course and is the perfect 19th hole when you finish your round and are ready for a couple beers and a burger.
. We made our way to the cozy, sports-themed bar and found a couple tables where we could sit back, relax and try the burger. Ordering was simple. Everything was a la carte and there was one burger — a cheeseburger served with lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles.
. Choosing the burger was easy, and there are plenty of options on the menu for your side. You can go traditional with fries, loaded chili fries or onion rings. A couple of us went with wings for our side — award winning wings to be exact.
. Our bartender, Justin Murphy, ran both sides of the bar and made sure we had everything we needed to make our meal enjoyable.
. Greg said, “for a stereotypical bar burger you won’t be disappointed.”
. The fries were thick cut and served in a generous portion. Add a little vinegar and you have a complete meal. Or so we thought!
. Then we tried the wings and were amazed by the flavor. JT took a bite of the Buffalo Wing and said, “These are excellent.” We also tried the hot and the award-winning Calico Wings. The wings were an excellent complement to the burger, and because the wings were so good, we almost forgot about the burger.
. The Rig entered its Calico Wings in the 2011 Youngstown Wingfest at the Covelli Center and took first place, according to votes “by a landslide.” The award-winning calico recipe was concocted by Justin and another Rig bartender, Tara Weaver. They are keeping the recipe a secret, so if you want to try the wings, you will have to stop in to the Rig and order a basket.
. The Calico wings had just the right blend of heat and cool flavoring to keep you wanting more.
. If you are looking for a place to go when your finished on the course, head over to the Rig and have a burger, and definitely order a side of their delicious, award-winning wings; and make sure to order the 5 star Calico sauce.
The MVBRB would like to thank everyone for their burger suggestions. You can keep sending them to email@example.com. Also, check out http://www.burgerguyz.wordpress.com to read our review and check out the latest burger news.
9421 E. Market St
Warren, Ohio 44484
The Stacker [stak - er]
1. A person or thing that stacks.
2. The monster challenge burger at Melange, Pittsburgh, created by owner Bobby Bilder. This beast has fifteen (15) one quarter pound beef patties, collated with fifteen (15) slices of American cheese, three (3) potato and onion pirogies and garnished with tomatoes, onions, pickles and olives. Just about enough to feed a youth baseball team, or maybe an average person for a week. But Bobby wasn’t finished; add a hearty side of steak fries to complete the… ummm… meal. One hour to finish it, (a task that 17 previous challengers have failed at)! A victory will get your name immortalized, inscribed on a plate mounted on the back of a bar stool that is reserved forever for you, anytime you visit, and your picture on the wall. Failure results in a $25 bill for the food, and more than likely, a very uncomfortable evening!
. Enter… “The Eliminator,” Eric Clark, the newest “burger guy“ in our group. We welcome the Niles, Ohio resident who comes with credentials; an associate’s degree in culinary arts from the University of Maryland, and he received numerous awards and commendations while serving as a Food Service Specialist in the United States Army. His formal training, food knowledge, experience, and insatiable appetite have earned him a seat on the board.
. He has always had a huge appetite, a fact that Chassity, his wife of 10 years, will attest to. “Eric has always eaten very large portions that would be three meals for someone like me,” she elaborates. “I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen anyone put away so much food and not be sick or gain weight.” She recalls a few of the more memorable instances, “Jack’s Big Omelet, made with 8 eggs, 1/2 lb of bacon, 1/2 lb of ham, 1/2 lb of home fries, green peppers, onions and tomatoes inside.” This sounds very do-able, but she wasn’t finished! “He also had a side of ham and pancakes, and tried eating our daughters food also!“ Another time was the Monster ’Challenge’ Burger from the Grub Club, in Niles. That was 3 lbs. of ground beef with bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and fries. “He ordered a steak torpedo on the side! I’m not sure the exact time but it was like 10 minutes or so. He had all of it eaten before I finished my 6 inch sub!” Without hesitating, she added, “And, of course, the all you can eat shrimp! He had his meal and sides finished before I ate my baked potato! The waiter was in shock and just started ordering him extras, 2 at a time! I had to finally say, enough, because we didn’t have time for more.” She tells another story of a time they went to the all you can eat steak at Ponderosa. After 8 steaks his grandmother actually threatened him to stop ordering!
. Eric can often be spotted at the local buffets, or maybe grabbing a 50 piece box of McNuggets for lunch at the McDonald’s on Main Street in Niles. It’s safe to say, he loves McDonald’s, and McDonald’s loves him. The mutual attraction is clear – McDonald’s serves a lot of fast food. Eric eats a lot of food, fast!
. He is very confident going into battle versus the UNDEFEATED in 17 attempts, Stacker. Owner, Bobby Bilder, said that the Stacker’s official “win/loss” record is actually 16-0-1. He explains that a draw was awarded to Pittsburgh Nose Tackle, Casey “Big Snack” Hampton, when he finished the burger, but not within the 1 hour time limit. He noted that the 6’1”, 325 pound Hampton finished a huge order of wings before his attempt.
. Eric has a 1-0 record in food challenges, and is definitely the underdog in this match-up, but you wouldn’t know that by talking to him. When asked about his strategy, he responded, “My strategy? I don’t know… I guess my strategy is to finish it, and then check out the deserts. I like deserts.”
. As the time of the challenge arrived, there was nothing more to talk about. Now is the time for action – put up or shut up! As Bobby Bilder carried his champion creation through the restaurant, heads were turning. This was truly a “monster” challenge burger! The estimated 5 lb sandwich, plus the accompaniments is an intimidating sight capable of deterring the heartiest of appetites from attempting it. But Eric showed no emotion as he stared down his opponent, and didn’t flinch as Bobby went over the rules of the challenge.
. Let the eating begin. All eyes were focused on Eric as he dug into the mammoth meal. He methodically began disassembling it, eating one patty at a time, mixing in the toppings and fries with nearly every bite. Ten minutes into the match, he was eating like a machine and had already put a huge dent in his task. The crowd roared with laughter as he stopped briefly to answer his cell phone, speaking through a mouthful of food, “I can’t talk right now!”
. After 25 minutes, a small crowd was gathering outside the restaurant, too, watching the battle through the window. Those who were at first, nonbelievers, were now changing their opinions. The fries were history and only 7 patties and 2 pirogies remained. The underdog was looking strong. Sensing the defeat of his burger, Bobby commented, “You’re going to do this! You’re going to be the first!”
. In the next 22 minutes, with the spectators chanting his name and shouting out words of encouragement, Eric, although at a noticeably slower pace, had put away 5 more patties and one of the pirogies. He was seemingly coasting to an epic victory.
. But at the 47 minute mark, something happened. Something that caught everyone off guard. Something bad. Without going into too much detail, we’ll just say that the Stacker scored a knockout, and that there will be no desert today, for anyone!
. The challenger had given it his all, but came up just one burger short. The Stacker has again shown why it is undefeated, now in 18 attempts. The amount of food has once again proved to be too much for yet another challenger.
. After being applauded for his gallant effort, Eric humbly said, “I can’t offer any excuses. I thought I had it! I still think I can do it. But today, the Stacker has beaten me.”
. Owner, Bobby Bilder, impressed with the effort put forth by our man, joined him for a shot as a consoler.
. At the conclusion of the evening, upon exiting the building, Eric turned around, shaking his fist in the air, confidently proclaiming, “I’ll be back!”