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An Italian Ode to an American Classic, the Hamburger

Our Editor-in-Chief tackles the towering offerings at a new Italian burger joint in NYC, Cantiere Hambirreria.

The Pugliese burger at Cantierre Hambirreria.

The Pugliese burger at Cantierre Hambirreria.

As a burger-loving American, and as someone, ya know, kinda into Italian food, I had to check out Cantiere Hambirreria, a hamburger joint in Italy with two locations (Lecce and Milan) that are apparently so successful that they had to bring it to New York (141 Kenmare in NOLITA). Both the name and concept are unique: the former translating roughly into “hamburger construction site” with the latter aligning with the building motif as the featured burgers (referred to as “Stunt Burgers”) test all sorts of bounds of gravity and cohesion. This is probably most evident in the “Pisa Tower,” a five-burger stack that leans, accordingly; the “Pugliese” is a mere single burger compounded by numerous toppings including an orb of smoked burrata. Then there’s the “Pizzicato” that is fairly traditional in design, until it catches on fire tableside thanks to a flaming fondue. In general, there’s a lot going on with each burger, including a veritable antipasti of toppings in cured meats, soft cheeses, roasted vegetables, crackers — most stuffed within house-made Brioche. The large knife that punctures the burger upon arrival is there for a reason, as these elaborate creations require tools to disassemble. 

For the non-adventurous burger lovers, there’s an extensive list with a menu that unfolds like a tablecloth. There’s a strong beer list of craft domestics and imported Europeans, and the owners, Andrea and Daniele Vetrugno, brothers from Puglia, are happy to explain the wine list that leans (pun intended) heavily towards their beloved home region (they are also happy to explain all you need to know about Puglia, including the “Pittule” — omnipresent fried dough balls that appear to rain from the industrial fashioned ceiling onto every plate). The desserts, especially the Mocona pasticciotto Leccese (served in a large moka pot) and the tiramisu are excellent. 

All in all, Cantiere Hambirreria is a fun experience like no other in New York (and that’s saying something) and clearly the project of ambitious, young Italians with their eyes on America.

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