Mike Mariola, the chef and owner of two popular Wooster restaurants, South Market Bistro and City Square Steakhouse, recently opened his third concept. The Rail (3265 W. Market St., 330-864-RAIL), located in a new exterior section of Akron's Summit Mall, is the latest burger bar to pop up in Northeast Ohio.
"We sell a ton of burgers at our steakhouse in Wooster," Mariola explains. "That really reinforced a shift in the marketplace. The younger generation is moving away from fine dining and looking for a more casual environment."
Beneath a massive sign depicting a tipped cow, The Rail seats about 100 guests at communal tables, high tops, traditional tables, at the bar, and out on the patio. The main draw are the burgers, formed daily by hand using source-verified Ohio beef custom ground by Blue Ribbon Meats. The six-ounce burgers are grilled over an open flame, giving them that familiar backyard bouquet.
Guests can choose from nine specialty burgers or they can design their own by mixing and matching condiments. Salads, fries, onion rings, and hand-dipped milkshakes flush out the menu. There is a full bar with craft beers as well.
The Rail is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Also new is Inferno Gourmet Burger Bar (1100 N. Court St., 330-764-4060), which recently opened in Medina's Liberty Plaza. Launched by Romeo’s Pizza CEO Sean Brauser, the specialty restaurant offers flame-grilled Angus beef burgers, hot dogs, and Romeo's pizza.
Diners can customize their burgers with numerous buns, toppings, cheeses and sauces, or select from a dozen city-named specialty burgers. The Cleveland, for example, is topped with coleslaw, fries, American cheese and mayo.
“My goal was to create flavor combinations that you normally wouldn’t think about on a burger," Brauser stated.
Inferno recently claimed the top prize at Akron's National Hamburger Festival, nabbing 1st Place for "Best Traditional Hamburger in America!"