Written by Kristy Locklin
“This whole place was built sustainably,” says owner Fiore Moletz, adding that the tables in the restaurant also are remnants of fallen trees.
He composts kitchen scraps, sells used cooking oil as biodiesel fuel and serves his food – made from locally sourced ingredients – on floral patterned, thrift store china.
The Butler Street eatery, along with its counterpart in Harmony, PA, has a gold certification from Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants; a program that champions eateries to lessen their impact on people, the environment and the region.
While doing his part to save the planet, Moletz still manages to churn out some of the best burgers in town. Last September, the James Beard Foundation named the joint’s Fox Chapel burger – a patty with a 75-25 blend of grass-fed beef and roasted mushrooms topped with goat cheese, pickled red onion, avocado, spring mix and a balsamic glaze – one of five winners in its annual Blended Burger Project. More than 350 restaurants competed in the event.
The Shaler native grew up in an Italian family that believed meals should be made from a few fresh, ingredients and a lot of love. He worked in kitchens at Il Pizzaiolo and Lidia’s Pittsburgh, learning from a series of masterful chefs.
Pasta was his passion. And then he ate a hamburger in New York City.
In 2009, he opened Burgh’ers in Harmony, to bring that thin, crispy NYC-style sandwich to Butler County. (He didn’t abandon his roots though: Moletz also runs Della Terra Italian Bistro located next door.
Both restaurants are soon moving to bigger digs on Zelienople’s main drag.)
Patrons can take a bite out of gastronomical neighborhood tributes such as the Polish Hill (cheddar, caramelized onions, pierogi, mayo), the Shadyside (Swiss cheese, bacon, caramelized onions) and the Mexican War (cheddar, roasted chilies, tomato, avocado, cilantro and special sauce).
Then they can wash it down with a Penn Ave. Pale Ale or a Jack Rabbit Double IPA.
Burgh’ers specializes in beef and beer.
Head Brewer Neil Glausier, an engineer by trade, whips up batches at a facility in Zelienople. Moletz says he’s planning to open yet another Burgh’ers that will be big enough to brew beer on site.
Is he overwhelmed?
“Sometimes,” he admits, sipping a Saison Michelle, a beverage named after his wife. “I’m really excited. We have an unbelievable staff. We’re just doing what we do.”