Underneath the Napkin

South Florida is hours away from its next gourmet burger. Andy D’Amico, Robert Guarino and Simon Oren are scheduled to open 5 Napkin Burger for dinner service on Thursday, June 16 at 5 p.m. The partners opened the first 5 Napkin Burger in Manhattan in 2003 to “give the burger its own stage.” Eight years later, they’ve set their sights on Lincoln Rd – and are bringing burgers, sushi, salads, sandwiches & sides with them. We talked to D’Amico about burgers, Miami-friendly cocktails and controversial tater tots.

Grand opening is less than a day away – how are you feeling?

We’re ready – as ready as we’re going to be. There’s only so much you can prepare for. We open for dinner tomorrow (June 16) and are shooting for lunch on Monday (June 20) and brunch a week from Sunday (June 26).

Tell us about the concept

We’re a burger-driven American bar & grill. It started with the name, the burger and the flagship on 45th Street and 9 Ave (in Manhattan’s theater district).  We built a concept that’s neighborhood-driven, accessible and has options for diners to revisit & eat at a moderate price.

We’ve got our fair share of highbrow burger outposts in SoBe – what distinguishes 5 Napkin?

My vision of an American bar & grill is more than burgers & fries. I think of maki rolls as the American component of a Japanese sushi menu, so we’ve got sushi. We’ve got traditional items like chicken wings and matzo ball soup, a big American craft beer list  (80-100 varieties) and a large wine list. We fancy ourselves as being the burger restaurant of steak places.

What are your most popular dishes?

Burgers are king. Our sales are 78-80% burgers and the two big burgers are the 5 Napkin & Bacon Cheddar (#2). After that, I sell a lot of turkey & veggie burgers, streak frites, mac & cheese and buffalo chicken sandwiches. Our number one salad is our burger salad – by far.

You’ve got three restaurants in New York and one in Boston – what changes have you made for Miami?

We created some lighter dishes (chicken paillard, crab Louis salad, heirloom tomato & avocado salad side dish, Thai marinated salmon with cucumber salad); added some local beers; and updated our cocktail list – made some drinks stronger, some bigger & put more of an emphasis on the rum section.

What are your favorite dishes on the menu?

I’m partial to the 5 Napkin burger (10oz ground chuck, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions & rosemary aioli) – I think the flavors & the combination are unique. I’m also partial to the tater tots, although they’re a bit controversial, as they’re really a gruyere croquet, not the tater tots most people had in the cafeteria line at school.