Burgers begin, for chef Jeff Bekavac, with a Big Mac at grandma’s house. It’s his first cheeseburger memory. He was sitting at his grandparent’s table with the iconic, mountainous double cheeseburger with the special sauce and the sesame seed bun. Bekavac remembers ruining his appetite for grandma’s dinner by devouring the whole Mac.
“I know it sounds goofy,” he says, naming the Big Mac memory as inspiration for what was to come.
It was only three months ago that Bekavac donned his chef’s whites to join Zoli’s. A new menu launched days ago. Dallasites already know this pizza joint — and its sister restaurant, Cane Rosso — well. It’s the restaurant with the beaming sense of humor. One piece of artwork at the entrance features Jedi master Yoda in KISS makeup, tongue unfurled like Gene Simmons. Another painting presents a Stormtrooper rearing a horse back on its hind legs suspiciously like Napoleon Bonaparte. Zoli’s Wi-Fi network name is WuTangLAN. They have cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) waffle fries.
Bekavac’s new burger, however, is anything but kidding: It’s sincerely, imperishably delicious. Only the cruelest of hearts would find fault in this double cheeseburger. It’s the Millennium Falcon of cheeseburgers, an immodest vessel, heavy-duty in its foundation and reinforced at the core with American cheese.
Earlier this year, Bekavac took a much-needed break from the kitchen. He’d helmed things at Neighborhood Services and run culinary operations at its parent restaurant group. He needed some time with his family. On a five-day trip in Charleston, he visited the local bar Little Jack’s Tavern enough to print it on his memory. The South Carolina bar serves an austere, honest bar cheeseburger that recalibrated Bekavac.
An hour after opening, Bekavac is zipping around Zoli’s floor in his chef whites. Grandma slices, thick book-sized slices of pizza, are layered with breathtaking amounts of pepperoni. His burger, inspired by the Charleston tavern and the memory of downing a simple Big Mac, shows up with a flat top-charred bun.
The Black Angus patties, a chuck-brisket-shoulder grind, each has clear and big-as-the-sky beef flavor. Juices and some rivulets of grease run down from the flat-top charred patties. Each has a cap of flat top crust. Bekavac seasoned Zoli’s flat top, he reports, by slapping as many burger patties down as possible.
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Yellow American flows moltenly over the patties, and pickle discs, practically electrified with horseradish, zap the heavy creaminess of the toppings. The seasoning is strong. Grainy mustard in the Zoli’s sauce — the holy condiment trinity of mustard, mayo and ketchup — pops. It’s eye-opening. It’s gone in minutes.
So, Zoli’s has pizza and Star Wars comedy cornered. Why add a cheeseburger? “It’s fun,” Bekavac says. “It’s just a good flat-top burger.”
This burger is no joke.
Zoli's, 14910 Midway Road, Addison