By Anthony M. Fuda
The battle has begun.
It actually started in 2009 with the Mahoning Valley Burger Review Board’s (MVBRB) first burger review. Now we have gathered 10 of our best restaurants, and we will put them in the arena and see who emerges victorious.
This burger extravaganza, known as The New Belgium/Oskar Blues Mahoning Valley Battle of the Burgers, will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank, and will be Aug 2-3 (Saturday and Sunday) at the Warren Community Amphitheatre, 321 Mahoning Ave. NW in Warren.
All five Burger of the Year winners are in the mix, as are the two leaders from this year. We round out the combatants with eateries who could have won any other year.
The entries are:
O’Donold’s Irish Pub & Grill (2009 winner)
Martini Brothers Burger Bar (2010 winner)
Sunrise Inn (2011 winner)
The Lake Tavern (2012 winner)
Bogey’s Bar & Grill (2013 winner)
Vista Lounge (tied for first for 2014)
The New Manhattan (tied for first for 2014)
Crickets Bar & Grill
Magic Tree Pub & Eatery
YOLO Grille & Taproom
Day one will be highlighted by a concert featuring Mr. Speed (the KISS tribute band) and Thunderstruck (AC/DC tribute band), and the Battle of the Burgers Cook-Off, judged by local celebrities.
You have to buy a ticket for the concert to be able to get a burger Saturday (food tickets are extra). Tickets for the show are $7 and can be purchased at the amphitheater the day of the show; online at RiverRockattheAmp.com; and at the Sunrise Inn. in Warren. Gates open at 5 p.m., and the concert starts at 5:30 pm.
Day two starts at noon and includes the Mind Rocket Recording Studio River Rock Star competition, and “American Idol”-type singing contest. The winner will get to record a demo CD and receive $500. Go to burgerguyz.com for details.
There will also be a hamburger- eating contest.
We will find out who has the best burgers in the Valley at 3:45 p.m., when the awards for the four burger categories will be presented.
Admission for day two (Family Day, benefiting Second Harvest) is $2 ($1 for ages 13-17; free for children 12 and under when accompanied by an adult). Events for children will include an exhibition by Ohio Gymnastics Institute, and an appearance by Michael “Knightmage” Wilson with a superhero that will be available for photographs.
Attendees can purchase tickets for burgers once inside the gates. Each restaurant will have a $6 burger and a $3 sampler burger. At the end of the Battle, all tickets will be counted, and whoever has the most will be crowned “The People’s Champion.”
The Battle will also help those in need. Each restaurant in the competition has agreed to give 15 percent of burger sales to Second Harvest Food Bank, said event coordinator Jerry Tranovich of the MVBRB. The restaurant owners are gearing up for the battle and looking forward to the competition.
“There are some excellent burger restaurants in the Mahoning Valley, and I’m glad there will be a venue to showcase these places,” said Dan Martini, co-owner of Martini Brothers Burger Bar. “I think I’m most excited to see how big this event will grow in the future.”
Sandy Reda, co-owner of the Magic Tree, said, “Events like this one help local restaurants showcase the talents of cooks in our Valley. Of course, we’re all up for a little friendly competition, as well.”
Amanda Piatt of Cricket’s Bar is eager to demonstrate her restaurant’s burgers to a wide audience.
“We love the idea of competing against other family-owned businesses in the Valley,” she said. “The contest will allow those who are participating to show off their goods, allow them to promote their own unique burger creations and give their business the opportunity to be recognized by the entire Valley, not just by their local customers.”
Warren Councilman Greg Bartholomew, a former MVBRB member, said a full-fledged Burger Battle is an idea that is long overdue.
“It is a no-brainer for the Burger Guyz to host a much needed competition to see who has the area’s best burger,” he said.