Big burgers. Big hair. Big, loud music.
Heavy Burger — one of two new, North Miami-Dade restaurants to hop on the burger train still barreling through South Florida — is all about living and eating large. The pancake-sized patties are juicy, cooked the way you ask and overflowing with messy toppings like chili, sautéed mushrooms, grilled pineapple and avocado. The Aventura crowd that frequents the rock-themed eatery looks like it’s stepped out of a Poison music video, and the blaring tunes match the posters on the walls, from The Clash and The Cure to The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Burgers with heavy-metal names like “Motley” and “Head-Banger” dominate the menu. Most come on a challah or onion roll. Our classic Heavy Burger, a 10-ounce Black Angus patty topped with American cheese, bacon, Bibb lettuce, slice of tomato and red onion, was too big to finish. Same with The Destroyer, another 10-ouncer, this time overwhelmed by provolone, roasted red peppers, garlic aioli, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, lettuce and tomato.The Twisted Burger, a Kobe patty two ounces smaller, was cooked to perfection, but the fried prosciutto was hard and out of place, wedged among sautéed mushrooms, grilled onion, garlic aioli, lettuce and tomato.Appetizers are just as gluttonous: Chili cheese fries, mozzarella sticks, wings and onion rings fried in a light beer batter are some of the best we’ve had in years. Desserts, including cheesecake layered with chocolate cake, continue the heavy theme.With brown paper on the tables and white curtains hanging from bright red rebar, the decor is frat house meets nightclub. Co-owner Mark Panunzio, a former Miami-Dade assistant state attorney and criminal defense lawyer (a felony DUI plea set him on a new career path), works the tables like a personable Jon Bon Jovi. His partner, Chad Steinberg, used to help the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. open restaurants.Be prepared to feel like you’re carrying a heavy load when you leave, but if you’re a burger lover, you’ll smile while wiping your chin.A few miles south, Roxy Miami has a similar burger-centric menu. Most of the waitresses, clad in skimpy black shorts and white blouses tied at their exposed midriffs, are students from nearby Johnson & Wales University, and these girls know how to hustle. When one caught me looking around, she hurried over to make sure our order had been taken. With exposed ductwork, metal walls and neon beer signs in the windows, Roxy is cheaper. In this case, you get what you pay for. Despite the nice, black grill lines and soft ciabatta buns, the grain-fed beef burgers lacked the flavor and juiciness of Heavy Burger’s. Two of the three we ordered were overcooked and dry. The exception was the Juicy Lucy, a pizza burger topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese that my 10-year-old relished.Toppings are even wackier here, from mayo and fried bananas to Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, cole slaw and Russian dressing. Our favorite items weren’t burgers at all but pickle chips (amazingly flavorful dill pickle wedges fried in a light batter) and Roxy Wings (six of them, lightly grilled and swimming in yummy pepper-berry sauce).You won’t want to save room for dessert unless you’re a Cool Whip fan. Our cold slice of apple pie was surrounded by the stuff, and it so overwhelmed the banana pudding that we had to scoop it off to get to the good stuff.
If you go
Place: Heavy Burger
Address: 19004 NE 29th Ave., Aventura
Rating:★ ★ ½ (Good)
Contact: 305-932-7555, www.heavyburger.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
Prices: Burgers $9-$14, kids’ meals $4
Place: Roxy Miami
Address: 12600 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami
Rating:★ ★ (OK)
Contact: 305-899-7699, www.roxymiami.com
Hours: 6 a.m.-2 a.m. daily
Prices: Burgers $6.99-$8.99, kids’ meals $2.99-$3.99