girl eating hamburger
Omnivores and herbivores can belly up to the burger bar together at The Counter Custom Built Burgers, the newest restaurant to open in Mercato in Naples. Thinking this was the kind of food my kids could really sink their teeth in to, we headed there to create our own signature burgers.
We were greeted by the friendly staff with clipboards and worksheets to build our very own burger. The four protein choices, 12 cheeses, 33 toppings, 24 special sauces and six types of bread combine to yield more than 312,000 unique combinations. The low-carb crowd can have their burger atop a variety of mixed greens. Feeling uninspired? There is a menu of unique burger creations where all of the decisions have been (thankfully) made and substitutions are not permitted.
The Counter states on its menu that it serves fresh 100% natural Angus beef that is humanely raised and hormone and antibiotic free. Chicken breast, turkey burgers and vegan veggie burgers also are offered.
My three kids plus one extra (there always is an extra) got right to work filling out their worksheets and came up with… two orders of plain cheeseburger sliders with American cheese, one order of a plain 1/3 pound cheeseburger with American cheese, and one particularly inspired child used his creative options to build a plain hamburger. Bun and beef. Period. Feeling like I had to use this opportunity to order outside of my burger comfort zone, I ordered the veggie burger on mixed greens with horseradish cheddar cheese, roasted red peppers, sautéed mushrooms, cucumbers and garlic aioli sauce.
While we waited on our burgers, the waitress brought out our order of “Fifty-Fifty” fries: half sweet potato fries with horseradish mayo dipping sauce and half plain fries. A generous portion at $5, both varieties of fries were a big hit with our group. Onion rings also can be ordered as part of the “Fifty-Fifty.” Other starters include fries with parmesan, rosemary and garlic aioli; chili cheese fries; chili; pickle chips; side salads and grilled vegetables.
The burgers finally arrived and were happily consumed. The veggie burger, a tasty, soft blend of veggies, brown rice and Panko bread crumbs, was good but left me longing for the juicy, beefy creations being devoured all around me. Vegetarians will not be disappointed, however, as the gourmet choices of toppings could keep them eating a different meal at every visit.
The Counter has a hip, retro vibe with its chrome and vinyl booth design and an indoor/outdoor burger bar that offers alcohol refreshments as well as unique milkshake combinations. Three large screen televisions will please the sporty crowd and the fast service and casual atmosphere is perfect for families and movie goers at Mercato. Open daily from lunch until 10 p.m. (midnight on Friday and Saturdays), the Counter is just what Mercato needed for quick bites or (almost) late night cravings. Their website claims that “rarely is the same burger made twice in one day,” but my crowd proved that sometimes simple is the way to go. Thankfully, that is an option at The Counter.
STACY NICOLAU is an advertising account representative for Neapolitan Family Magazine, editorial contributor, retired registered nurse and mom of three.