NJ Chefs Share Their Best Burger Bites

In honor of National Burger Day (today) we asked some of New Jersey’s favorite chefs about their most memorable burgers. From braised short rib and foie gras to simple sliders, our Chefs share their idea of the perfect patty.

Executive Chef Bill Zucosky of Strip House at Westminster Hotel, Livingston  “I hate to say it,” Bill wrote, “but one of the best burgers I ever had is one that I created!  Come and taste it anytime, Deb!”  Grilled Lamb Burger with Garlicky Tomato Marmalade and Goat Cheese (recipe below)

Chef Frank Falivene of MoonShine Supper Club in Millburn”The best burger that I have had recently was at The Brass Rail in Hoboken, which is owned by the same partners who own MoonShine. The combination of charred juicy meat, gooey melted mozzarella, and the crisp saltiness of the pancetta was a perfect combination in every bite. During weekly planning meetings for MoonShine at The Rail, I was always certain to order that burger!”

Ilson Goncalves, proprietor of the recently opened Samba Montclair. “The best burger I ever had was at Next Door, Zod Arifai’s great casual restaurant in Montclair.  It’s memorable — a burger with gorgonzola cheese and caramelized onions.”

Thomas Ciszak, Executive Chef – Chakra in Paramus “For the ‘not gourmet’ burger category, I love the White Manna sliders. You have to have it with onions and pickles! This classic and tiny place is America for me. Like a movie set. I go over and pick up a few dozen for my team from time to time”.

Kara Decker, Executive Chef A Toute Heure “My favorite spot for a great burger in NYC is probably The Burger Joint on West 56th Street, located in the lobby of the Parker Meridian Hotel.  It may be a total dive spot, not what you would expect but they make a GREAT burger.  They are cash only and you better have your (stuff) together when you order or they will send you to the back of the line…I have seen it happen!  Enjoy!”

Chef Michael d’Ennery “I have a tie. One, they called a “Mike” burger at a country club I worked at in Rancho Sante Fe (outside San Diego). My own creation of a half pound Angus burger with cajun seasoning, avocado, fresh jalapeño, pepperjack cheese, and of course bacon with spicy aioli. The other has to be the DB Burger at DB Bistro Moderne in NYC stuffed with braised short rib, foie gras & black truffle with pommes soufflées! That was the inspiration for the foie burgers I’ve been doing for years. I know it’s almost not a “real” burger, but it counts for me!

Phil Deffina Executive Chef – David Burke Fromagerie in Rumson. “Tewksberry Inn in Oldwick has one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time.. Simple and deluxious! fresh ground beef, lettuce, tomato, onion on a fresh brioche bun.. Hand cut fries and a massive side of mayo!”

So, now it’s your turn. Where have you had your best burger and tell us what is so special about it. a Please leave a comment or share with us on Facebook.


Grilled Lamb Burger with Garlicky Tomato Marmalade + Goat Cheese courtesy of Bill Zucosky, Executive Chef, Strip House at Westminster Hotel in Livingston


For the Burger Makes 4 8oz Burgers

2lbs ground lamb

1 tsp chopped fresh mint

1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

1 tbsp minced shallots

1/2 tbsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 tbsp fine sea salt

1 tsp finely ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and form into 4 burger patties.

Garlicky Tomato Marmalade

1 8oz can of peeled diced tomatoes (strained)

6 cloves garlic sliced thin

3 tbsp sherry vinegar

2 oz dark brown sugar

1 tbsp corn syrup

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce pot saute the sliced garlic in olive oil until golden brown. Add the tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Cook over low heat until the tomatoes have “melted” (about 15 to 20 minutes) and remember to stir frequently to avoid scorching. Cool the mixture down and then season. This is accompaniment is served cold.

Assemble the burger. Cook your patties to your desired temperature. I recommend medium well to medium. Place the patty on the bottom half of your favorite burger bun. For this type of burger I would use a country sourdough roll. Top the burger with goat’s cheese. Take the top of the burger bun and coat the cut side with the marmalade. Put it together and enjoy!