I recently learned that certain New York food writers have strict criteria when assessing hamburgers. Apparently patties must star beef and come on a bun, which is kind of comical considering Louis’ Lunch in New Haven served the first hamburgers on toast in 1900. At Love & Salt, the airy California-Italian restaurant from Guy Gabriele, daughter Sylvie Gabriele and chef Michael Fiorelli, they offer a Pesto Chicken Burger ($15) on their weekend brunch menu, which may not technically qualify as a burger with purists, but sure tastes great.
A pair of thin herb-flecked chicken patties sport winning sears and draw on a meatball recipe. Fiorelli uses dark meat Mary’s chicken, skin and all, and mixes the ground meat with bread, eggs, Parmesan, ricotta, basil, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. He drapes the juicy patties with molten Fontina cheese before stacking thick-sliced yellow heirloom tomato and cascading arugula pesto crafted with basil, almonds, Parmesan and olive oil. The bread that holds the burger together is a pillowy toasted brioche bun from Larder Baking Company.