When an Italian chef immigrates to America, what does he dream of cooking? Burgers! Or so says Cristian Pietoso, who came to Cincinnati to helm Nicola’s in 2004. At his fun, new Americano Burger Bar, good luck grabbing a noontime table in the bright and airy 84.51 digs.
But when you finally sit, start with the early bird burger, featuring the best of breakfast (a fried egg, crispy bacon, and American cheese). The health conscious will enjoy a well executed, if slightly under-seasoned, turkey burger or a white bean veggie burger souped up with plenty of creamy brie and caramelized onions. But our favorite was the Florence, y’all. More IT than KY, it comes topped with plenty of stinky-sexy taleggio, arugula pesto, and sundried tomato aioli.
Dog lovers shouldn’t miss Pietoso’s Chicago-style hot dog, stacked with relish, tomato, onion, pickle, and sprinkled with celery seed. And speaking of pickles, we beg the powers that be to bring back the house fermented giant dill pickle. After we fell madly in love with the balanced salinity, almost unnaturally fresh crunch, and peppery pop of this six-inch behemoth, we learned it had been replaced by standard dills. Boo! Compensate with fries (get the Cajun) and ethereally light onion rings, and don’t even think of leaving without splitting a shake. Strawberry and vanilla are both heaven. The adults-only addition of amaretto or bourbon tops off one helluva happy meal.
Americano Burger Bar, 545 Race St., downtown, (513) 345-6677, americanoburgerbar.com
Catch Cristian Pietoso at Savor Cincinnati. Grab tickets and find out more here.