113 Macdougal St
New York, NY 10012
The 1962-64 Ferrari 250 GTO tops many lists labeled “hottest,” “best,” “most sought after,” “favorite,” when it comes to sports cars. It’s an exotic, sleek, rare, hard to find machine that impresses with it’s design, delivery and price. It was no ordinary Ferrari. This was not designed to tightly hug corners on your daily commute or to comfortably seat your family & get the groceries home. This sport car was designed to race but not just any old race. Chief engineer Giotto Bizzarrini had one mission in mind when designing this rubber burning monster: compete in GT racing. Only 33 were ever made (39 if you count two, 3-model re-designs.) The last time one of these awesome machines changed hands, the price tag was $35 million to now owner Craig McCaw.
You’re probably asking yourself, why pay $35 million for just a car? I’m sure Craig and a few other people would wax on poetically about how “this is no ordinary car,” telling you exactly why. When you’ve driven the best, there’s no driving the rest.
It’s the same reason why The Minetta Tavern sells a Burger that costs $26. When it’s the best, you charge a premium that people will pay for. Thankfully for the Burger adventurous the rarity of the “Black Label” Burger outnumbers the 1962-64 Ferrari 250 GTO. Even though table reservations are hard to come by, you still probably have a greater chance of seeing a Yeti or a UFO than eating this Burger.
Unless you’re me.
But before we get into that, let’s talk Minetta.
The Minetta Tavern dates back to 1937 when it originally opened in New York City’s Greenwich Village. It was given the same name as a Brook that used to run near it, connecting into the Hudson River. This NY Classic achieved all new status when it was purchased in 2008 by Keith McNally, Lee Hanson, and Riad Nasr. That’s when the Burger was added and since, the restaurant has received two Michelin ratings. The old world charm is still there making the place look as old as it sounds. The menu offers unique Hors D’oeuvres like Oxtail and Foie Gras Terrine and classy mains like Pied de Porc Pané (Berkshire Pork), Filet of Trout Meunière (Crabmeat) as well as Pastas and a traditional NY Style Steakhouse offerings like NY Strip, Filet Mignon and Dry Aged Côte de Boeuf.
But the big attraction, the Ferrari 250 GTO if you will, of the Minetta Tavern is the “Black Label” Burger. Google it and you’ll see critical acclaim from Anthony Bourdain, The NY Times, and Food And Wine, even Eater tagged it as “EPIC.” This Burger draws so much attention that A Hamburger Today put together a fact finding team to build a lengthy a behind the scenes piece revealing the secrets of how it’s made. The Beef comes exclusively from Pat LaFrieda meat purveyors. The blend is a mix of 4 kinds of cuts of Beef: Short Rib, Skirt, Brisket and Dry-Aged Ribeye. It comes topped with Caramelized Onions and only Onions. What is it that makes this Burger so good?
Seeing as how he plays an important part in this story, I’ll let my good friend George Motz tell you via a video “guest blog” from his “Burger Land” show on the Travel Channel.
“The Black Label” Burger at The Minetta Tavern is not something you casually stop in and eat. This is the kind of Burger that needs to be surrounded by an event, a special occasion, a unique circumstance worth marking by a meal that is as important or special. People talk about this Burger like it’s the Holy Grail. You would think I would’ve eaten this crown jewel several times in history of my Glorious Pursuit of Delicious Burgers.
Nope. Not even once.
But if I had a nickel for every time someone told me how good the Burger was and that they would take me to eat it, I’d have enough money to treat myself to this offering from the Burger Gods. Seriously. It actually became a thing.
When I would tell people “I’ve never had it,” their immediate reaction was “I’ll take you.” I would then tell them that “everyone says that but no one does and now I refuse to go unless someone is taking me.” The standard reaction was to swear up and down they would be the one to break the Black Label fast. The conversation always ended the same way; “I’ll believe you when I eat it.” It’s gone on for years. I’ve been dying to eat this Burger that was created the same year this blog was created and no one lived up to it.
As this is no ordinary Burger, it can not be reviewed in an ordinary fashion. When George said in his video review that he had an out of body experience, he meant it. If you also don’t disappear while eating it, you did it wrong and should only be eating plain Oatmeal since your taste buds have died. That being the case, I am going to have an out of body experience while reviewing this Burger by interviewing myself.
THE BLACK LABEL BURGER AT MINETTA TAVERN
Expert Burger Taster, Rev, (as seen on The Learning Channel) interviews David “Rev” Ciancio, Blogger, “Burger Conquest” (as seen on the Travel Channel) about his experience eating one of the most sought after Burgers on the planet.
Rev: Hey David “Rev” Ciancio, I hear you like Burgers
David “Rev” Ciancio (DRC): I’ve been accused of worse.
Rev: How long have you been writing about and reviewing Burgers?
DRC: I’ve been a fan of Burgers since I was a little kid but the blog started in 2008. I’ve since written about 637 Hamburgers.
Rev: What’s your favorite Burger in NYC?
DRC: Rub BBQ (RIP). That’s not only the best Burger in NYC, that’s the best Burger I’ve ever eaten. Whatever it was that Andrew Fischel and Chef Scott Smith did to that thing, no matter how they changed the preparations or toppings, it was amazing. Even though I worked for them, hosted events there and ate there more than any other Burger in NYC, I never fully got the secrets on how it was made.
DRC: I know it was an in-house grind made from whole cuts of Beef that they would source from different purveyors. They would make them fresh every Monday and server them in limited quantities every Monday night. It was off-menu so you had to know about it and had to ask. I got to watch them make them once and I know one of the secrets was to cook them on a well seasoned flat top griddle at an incredibly high temperature. They would sear one side, flip it, sear the other and then pull it. It was incredible.
Rev: No other Burger you’ve had comes even close?
DRC: No, well, not until very recently.
Rev: This we have to hear.
DRC: I’ve had friends and colleagues promise me for ages that they would take me to eat a Burger that would rival if not out seat the Rub BBQ Burger. It’s the Black Label Burger at The Minetta Tavern. People describe it like they were looking into the eyes of God and when I told them I’d never been, they’d promise to take me. But just like Sallah from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” they’d all prove to be untrustworthy in said pursuit.
Rev: So why not just go on your own?
DRC: Because I’m a stubborn jerk and i’ll do anything to up the dramatics on a story for publicity purposes.
Rev: Kind of like getting onto an episode of “Burger Land” on the Travel Channel? I mean seriously, how many times can you mention it on the blog and social media?
DRC: You should talk!! If I have to hear one more time “the Cake Boss made an episode about me and Idle Hands, the bar I own” I’m going to left hand grab your throat and strangle you.
Rev: Fair enough. We’re both Burgermedia whores.
DRC: I’m totally ok with that.
Rev: Me too. Now back to this Burger, “The Black Label.” How did you finally end up eating it?
DRC: George Motz from “Burger Land” and Seth Unger from the Food Film Fest took me, Nicole from the Food Film Fest and Seth’s Father, Artie to celebrate his birthday, the wrap of filming “Burger Land” & the close of the Charleston, SC Food Film Fest to eat it.
Rev: With all this build up, I’m sure you’ll be able to write pages and pages about this Burger. How does one review a Burger like this? I mean seriously, it has 4 cuts of Beef and gets 4 coats of Butter.
Rev: I’ll bet it was!! How was the mouthfeel?
DRC: Not a word I would use often but the mouthfeel was awesome.
Rev: What about the taste? With all that Beef, it must’ve tasted more like Steak than a Burger.
Rev: How about that Bun?
DRC: Bun is a little sweet. Nice wheat flavor.
Rev: What else comes on the Burger?
DRC: Caramelized Onions.
Rev: Oh man! I love Caramelized Onions on a Burger. Adds a richness that’s sweet, salty, smokey and just really plays against the savory Meat flavors.
Rev: At any point while eating it, didn’t you wish it had Cheese? I mean Cheese is a really important part of a Burger.
Rev: Did you even realize there wasn’t any on it?
DRC: Not until the last bite.
Rev: So the Burger was pretty good. Would you say it was awesome?
DRC: Most def.
Rev: Would you go eat it again?
DRC: As soon as someone takes me again.
Rev: You really don’t have much to say about this Burger do you?
DRC: You’re the expert burger taster, you tell me!
Rev: Yeah but you’re the Burger blogger. You should have something to say.
DRC: Well that being the case, it’s about getting hits, proper SEO and coming up in searches. So as the “blogger” here, I’ll say this:
The “Black Label” Burger at The Minetta Tavern in NYC is one of the best Burgers in NYC and ever.
Rev: Those are big words my friend.
DRC: If you love Burgers and you don’t go eat it, either your friends, like most of mine, can’t live up to their word or you only casually like Burgers.
Rev: Wow. You’ll have to take me sometime.
DRC: I know better than to make that promise! The odds say you might have a better chance of me taking you for a ride in a 1962-64 Ferrari 250 GTO.
Rev: I guess we both now have new goals.
DRC: God Bless.
Thank you to George, Seth, Nicole and Artie for making my Burger dreams come true.
THE BURGER COUNTQUEST
May 16, 2013 – 2:07 pm