From pizza to patties

Things are really heating up in Bridgeland. Not only is ramen restaurant Shiki Menya now open but Black Pig Bistro is also slated to open in the next month or so. Adding one more to the mix is the latest hot spot for burgers — and you may be surprised by who’s at the helm.

Stepping down from his place on the podium as one of the city’s finest pizza men Chef Mario (of Pimento’s and Pimento’s pizza truck fame) is getting out of the pizza game in pursuit of tasty burgers. His new venture Burger 320 located in his former Pimento’s location on First Avenue N.E. is serving takeout burgers to the hungry ’hood.

Visiting early on a Saturday night my hubby and I find Chef Mario and his colleague working away in the kitchen after what sounds like a crazy day of lineups out the door. Smiling away Mario notes that if we’d arrived a half-hour earlier we would have been waiting outside.

Pleased to have dodged that bullet we start talking shop and assembling our order. Getting a few housekeeping questions out of the way Mario enthusiastically lets us know that all of Burger 320’s patties are made in house using local beef brisket from his partner Karen Humphrey’s family ranch Ridgeview Ranch just outside of Okotoks. Burger 320’s awesome branded burger buns and silky gelato are also made on site.

The burger menu lists 10 selections with options for customizing. For toppings diners can choose from three aiolis (garlic horseradish sriracha) and add options from the “Relish Trough” such as artichoke tapenade fried jalapenos a truffle ’shroom salsa and more as well as the “Cheese Wheel” which offers four types of cheese including Brie cheese curds blue and cheddar. For two bucks more there are extra options like a fried egg farm bacon or a gluten-free bun.

My husband opts for the Cavallari burger ($10). Packing a delectably creamy blue cheese punch this burger (named after a family farm in Italy) features artichokes and a garlic aioli. Bite after bite this is a flavour-packed stack with great texture from the artichokes — a must for anyone with a penchant for blue cheese.

I decide to go with the Wickens burger ($10). Stacked with farm bacon block cheddar and a tasty rhubarb chutney this burger brings sweet and savoury together in a beautiful way. Both hubby and I appreciated the hand-formed patties too. Juicy flavourful and fresh we were pleased with every bite.

But let’s be real here — what you really need to know is if the fries are worth a damn. I am happy to report that they are. We tried both the fresh-cut fries with sea salt (small $3 large $5) and the garlic parmigiano fries (small $4 large $7). If you like them basic the thin-cut freshly made and perfectly salted white potato fries are for you. For that extra pop definitely try the parmigiano fries with a dollop of creamy garlic aioli grated parmesan and a chunk of parmesan cheese on top. And if you want to go even further Burger 320 offers poutine ($8) with St. Hubert gravy (a standard in our household) and fresh curds or a truffle poutine ($15) with summer truffle salsa parmigiano crisp fried ’shrooms and garlic aioli.

Topping off our order it seems only logical to try the gelato shakes (two scoops for $6). Mario’s featured flavours for the day are vanilla strawberry rum raisin mimosa and salted caramel. We go with the classics and try both the strawberry and vanilla varieties. The strawberry is fantastic with no hint of artificial flavour just fresh strawberry goodness. Likewise for the vanilla it’s creamy without being too heavy or sweet. And if you’re craving anything sweeter Burger 320 has a nice little assortment of desserts like a gelato sandwich or an Italian doughnut “spanked” in sugar.

As far as burger joints go this one is the full package. You may pay a little more than your average takeout spot but what you get in terms of freshness and flavour is incomparable. Be sure to pay a visit the next time you have a case of burger mania.