New Gowanus Burger Joint Serves Up Artisanal Bites

By Leslie Albrecht on September 3, 2012 11:14am 

GOWANUS — A new restaurant opening this month in Gowanus has a double mission — serve tasty burgers and change the image of capitalists.

So says Carolyn Ferreira, one of seven partners behind Root Hill Burger, set to open Sept. 14 at 256 Fourth Avenue between Carroll and President streets.

The burger joint, an offshoot of the sandwich and coffee shop Root Hill Cafe down the street, will serve nine "artisanal, affordable" hamburgers with sides such as chick peas with roasted garlic, Ferreira said.

The menu was cooked up by chef Cali Rivera, who's worked at Prune, the Gramercy Tavern and Seersucker. His involvement has won positive press from New York magazine's Grub Street, which named Root Hill Burger one of this fall's most anticipated restaurant openings.

But aside from selling tasty chow, Ferreira says she's on a quest to revamp how people see capitalists. Ferreira, a transplant from Australia, founded Amigos, a mini chain of five Mexican restaurants, in Melbourne. If Root Hill Burger's Gowanus location does well, she'd like to duplicate the restaurant elsewhere.

"My big thing is to prove that we capitalists can make a difference to the community," Ferreira said. "We're not all greedy, hungry, sinful beasts."

That do-gooder philosophy is why many of Root Hill Burger's ingredients will be locally sourced. It will use pickles from Brooklyn Brine Co., whose "factory/brinery" is on President Street and Fourth Avenue, and gluten-free bread from Everybody Eats on Third Avenue and Carroll Street.

Its also working to find local soda, beer and wine providers. Root Hill Burger will also have kombucha, a fizzy fermented tea drink, on tap.

Even the restaurant's look is meant to give back to the neighborhood, said Root Hill Burger's designer Stephen Kelley.

"One of the goals of the new restaurant is to add to the growing vitality of the block," Kelley said in an email, adding that look is inspired by the 1964 World's Fair in New York.

"We are going to have clean lines, bright colors, and crisp graphic layerings... all in a hope of capturing that spirit of vitality and optimism."

The restaurant will have counter service up front and sit-down table service in a "beautiful backyard," Ferreira said. The overall vibe will be casual.

"It's a relaxed environment," Ferreira said. "There's no stiffness in this place. It's designed for you to come three times a week, not just once a month."

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