When a restaurant names a burger after your boss, you have to check it out. And the fact that it features a topping of lobster mac and cheese with fontina also merits attention—and a curiousity about the dish.
The Geppi burger, named after Steve Geppi, Baltimore magazine's publisher, is in good company on a menu of patties that honors icons like Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, and Clint Eastwood at Pacific Coast Dining Company in Little Italy.
"The burgers were named after things that were pertinent or had a connection," said Michael Lyston, Pacific Coast's manager. Restaurant owners Marianna Strati and Stacey Tamaris wanted a Little Italy celebrity represented on the burger list, too, he said: "We thought of Steve, living on High Street as a child."
Steve recently moved back to his old neighborhood, and he's thrilled that Pacific Coast is the "home of the Geppi burger." "It wasn't my idea," he said in an e-mail. "In fact, when I went in one day, I was surprised to see it on the menu."
I was, too. I'd been to the restaurant for lunch—read my mini review in our August issue—but the Geppi burger isn't on that menu. It's listed on the dinner one. No worries, manager Michael told me. It can be ordered anytime.
As I nestled into one of the restaurant's banquettes this afternoon, I started to fret. What if I didn't like the burger? It did sound awfully decadent from its description.
"We wanted something savory and luxurious," explained Michael about the burger's composition. "People love our lobster mac and cheese. It's one of our most popular appetizers. We combined it with the burger."
The Geppi burger, $16, pictured, soon arrived at my table. The plump, 10-ounce, grill-charred beef patty was surrounded by a mound of hand-cut fries coated with Parmesan-and truffle-oil seasoning and a piquant red-cabbage Asian slaw.
The staff knew why I was there. All eyes surreptitiously were on me as I cut into the meat. (It was too big to pick up gracefully.) Gulp. The verdict? It was good, really good.
The burger, made with organic certified Angus beef, was juicy and flavorful. It carried the silky mac and cheese—with tiny, cut-up penne pasta and a meld of fontina, Parmesan, and cheddar cheeses—well. The lobster cubes in the pasta were tender and fresh. I admit, ashamedly, that I ate most of it.
"It is awesome as is just about all the food there," Steve said in his e-mail.
Pacific Coast's menu is much broader than burgers. It also features soups, appetizers, salads, and entrees like seared rockfish, crab cakes, fish tacos, a fiery flat-iron steak, and a Berkeley pot roast.
"We didn't want to do Italian," Michael said of the cuisine. "We're focusing on fresh California grill fare."
Photo by me