Each week, Patch picks a great restaurant either in town or nearby that is worth checking out. Here's this week's choice:
Overview: Somewhere in the mists of time, the typical burger joint gave way to fast-food, processed, mystery meat patties and a vision of sameness.
Riverside Grill owners John and Alyse Prudente are here to remedy that. Their Hillsborough restaurant, which began three years ago in Manville but moved to Hillsborough in November, specializes in fast service without the fast-food burger taste.
“When I started to eat at these burger joints, I wasn’t impressed,” John Prudente said. “I thought I could it better.”
The Prudentes pride themselves on unique takes and a design-your-own burger option, while using fresh ingredients as often as possible. There are also chicken sandwiches, cheese steaks, salads, and milkshakes available.
Décor: The Riverside Grill offers an almost 1950s, south-western vibe, in part because of the large (and pointy, a sign warns) cactus in the corner across from the door and also because of counter where patrons order. Its open floor plan accommodates several tables, allowing diners to eat-in or carry out their food.
Drinks: You could opt for the regular Coke or Diet Coke, but the Prudentes wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, they’ve selected several high-quality sodas, teas, waters and other drinks—many which contain real sugar and natural flavorings—like Boylans and other brands.
“We try to carry higher-end items, even in our soda products,” John Prudente said. “We choose all-natural cane sugar, natural flavoring products.”
Desserts: Desserts are made daily, and aren’t on the menu as a result—but you can easily check the restaurant’s Specials board to find out today’s pick.
Entrees: The specialty is burgers, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a place with the variety offered at Riverside Grill. Whether you’re looking for odd combinations or just a traditional burger, Riverside probably has something you’ll enjoy. And if you’re not looking for a burger, its cheese steaks — made from sliced rib eye steak — hot dogs, and salads offer another break.
Unique burgers include its Mexican Burger (avocado, jalapenos, cheddar and lettuce, tomato and onions), its Western Burger (pepper jack cheese, bacon, jalapenos and onion rings), and its Sloppy Joe Burger (Cole slaw, Russian dressing, and Swiss cheese). There’s also a Serious Burgers menu that has one pound of meat and extras.
Burgers are made fresh daily, and it also offers vegetarian burgers and a make-your-own menu.
I opted for the Blue Shroom Burger, which combines blue cheese, mushrooms and a burger. No fries for this editor (who is trying to watch what she eats), but the option is available. Service was quick, and attentive once I ordered.
The burger was a little greasy for my weight-loss liking, it was still enjoyable and flavorful. The mixture of blue cheese and mushrooms added a nice texture and taste to the fresh burger. And who goes to a burger joint when they’re not looking to splurge anyway?
According to the Prudentes, the make-your-own is the most popular offering, but the three most popular choices are the River Side Burger (bacon, jalapenos and provolone), the Messy Texas Burger (chili, pulled pork and cheese) and the Dirty Jersey Burger (Taylor ham, fried egg and cheese).
A word of caution from John Prudente: Taylor ham versus pork roll is not up for debate.
“I don’t listen to anyone who says pork roll,” he said. “I’m like the Soup Nazi. ‘No pork roll for you. You say Taylor ham.’”