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Sunday, February 25, 2024
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How One of NYC’s Best Burgers Is Made in Queens

The burger at Rolo’s has two patties, grilled onions, and coppa bacon

Every single person in NYC has an opinion on the city’s top burgers. But lately, a new(er) to the scene spot has become a major contender. Rolo’s, which opened in Ridgewood in 2021, is a wood-fired focused restaurant that has become one of the city’s most popular. And here, the burger is a must-order item.

Butcher and morning sous chef Joe Paish is responsible for butchering the grass-fed beef, which he blends into a 75/25 lean-to-fat ratio. The particular batch that Paish is working with in the video is about five kilograms, yielding around 25 burgers, which is “almost enough for a weeknight here,” he says. Paish portions the ground beef to about 100-gram patties and smashes them himself. “The cooks upstairs are, of course, not working on a flat top, they’re working on a wood fire grill, so they can’t smash it upstairs,” says Paish. “It has to come to them ready to go on the grill.”

Next, Paish and his team get the coppa bacon out of the smoker, which they consider an important element to have on the burger. The ratio of meat to fat on the coppa is similar to bacon, and it’s very gently cooked, using low-temperature smoke. “It really reads in contrast to the smoke on the burger, which is that delicious high-intensity char smoke from the wood fire,” says Paish.

When assembled, the burger features grilled onions, which get chopped and drizzled with house-made garlic oil before getting put in the wood-fired oven; a large pickled pepper is served alongside. Chef and co-owner Rafiq Salim slits each pepper, which prevents them from floating once they start getting pickled, tosses them in a tiny slick of oil to adhere the smokey flavor, then throws them into the smoker for an hour before being pickled.

“After they’re pickled, it takes on all the acidity, salt, sugar, which makes it super tasty,” says Salim. “And a perfect contrast to the fatty, juicy, hot burger, you have this cold, cool, and spicy, acidic pickle to eat with the burger.”

Salim says the ideal way to eat the burger is by going “burger, pepper, burger, pepper, burger, pepper.”

Watch the full video to see how Paish, Salim, and the rest of the Rolo’s team make the restaurant’s other popular dishes like a wood-fired two-sheet lasagna verde, a dry-aged rib-eye, and more.

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