Part butcher shop, part eat-in restaurant, Off the Block Kitchen and Meats has burger basics covered. Chef Stephen Rizzo sharpened his knife at numerous culinary institutions and meat markets across Long Island and NYC before perfecting his patty recipe. He opened Sayville’s new carnivore haven in December and his freshly ground burgers have been such a hit, Off the Block Kitchen and Meats is a finalist in Pulse’s Great Burger Battle. I caught up with Rizzo to discuss his tricks of the trade, what makes his burgers so flavorful and how he likes his chances in this year’s competition.
How does it feel to be a finalist in the 2016 Burger Battle?
It feels great considering we have only been open about seven months. To come this far with the amount of publicity we have gotten and all the rave reviews about our burgers feels really good.
What are you most excited about?
I am excited to cook over 400 burgers. I have never made hundreds of burgers in a three to four hour span before. It should be fun.
How many burgers do you make on a typical night? What approach are you going to take for the competition?
About 150 burgers. I am going to stick with one style. We aren’t fully set on exactly what we are going to do, probably something on the menu just to keep it simple since there are going to be hundreds of orders.
How does your chef and butcher background inspire your burger recipe?
[We have] our butchers work side by side with the chefs to take a 25-pound chunk of meat and actually grind it in-house, instead of buying burgers already made that were sitting in a warehouse. After we grind them fresh every morning, we make them into patties and serve them about an hour later. That’s why our burgers are the best.
How does grinding the meat in-house everyday add to the flavor of the burger?
It’s just really the freshness, not so much the flavor. Grinding it fresh keeps the meat a red color and makes it juicier compared to other places. Some restaurants buy their burgers pre-done and the color fades because it is in a package and pumped with gas.
What is your favorite burger on the menu?
I like the All-American burger with a 6oz patty. It’s my favorite because it is basic but has all different flavor components that really drive well together, including the housemade Thousand Island, pickles that are also made in-house and pickled red onions.
How do you like your chances at this year’s Great Burger Battle?
I think we are going to win. We have a really good staff cooking the burgers perfectly to temperature. It’s my goal to grind all the burgers fresh on site. I think it will make the difference.
Are Off the Block Kitchen & Meats burgers the best? Taste for yourself at Great Burger Battle.