Nick and Anthony Gambino have the restaurant biz in their blood. Their dad used to run several Nancy’s Stuffed Pizza places in Chicago.  In 1995, the brothers opened up Cucina Paradiso, Now, they’re firing up the grills at Burger Boss, serving up 100% Angus hamburgers (as well as pork and chicken and, for vegetarians, Portobello mushroom burgers).

Wanting to buy a building, and finding few options in Oak Park, the Gambini decided to set up operations in their hometown of Elmwood Park.

Earlier this month, they started welcoming customers at Burger Boss (7512 W. North Avenue).

If Burger Boss had opened in Oak Park, they’d probably be serving the best burgers in the village.

Carolyn and I recently shared two Burger Boss Signature sandwiches.

The Elmwood Park Boss is lush with bacon, cheddar, thin-sliced pickles, lettuce, tomato and lots of grilled onions on a brioche bun.  I had the one-third pound burger, and although it’s available in a half-pound version, I would probably recommend the larger burger only if you’re an eighteen year-old male construction worker, or very, very hungry.

We also had the 8AM Burger with pulled pork. This pork burger is topped with bacon as well as a cage-free fried egg, which was perfectly done and provides added moisture, though the 80-20 beef blend used at Burger Boss is plenty juicy. With 20% fat, and a liberal dose of Boss Sauce, the burgers avoid dryness, the great enemy of all sandwiches.

Idaho potato fries are hand-cut, skin-on and very good. The sweet potato fries we sampled were also very well executed, which can be a challenge with this particular tuber: too often sweet potato fries are soggy, but not here.

We had a few craft beers — a nice touch for any hamburger operation — and we enjoyed a chocolate milkshake for dessert, which was not too sweet and for some mysterious reason perfectly complemented the fries.

We asked Anthony about the importance of “hand-packed” shakes, and he said “it’s hard ice cream and it’s better than soft-serve that comes out of a machine. It’s all about the art of making a shake. We’re not just dispensing it.”

The main competitor for Burger Boss is probably Five Guys in downtown Oak Park.  I asked Anthony Gambino how his hamburgers compare to theirs. He told us “While I don’t  know exactly what’s in the burgers at Five Guys, I can say ours are really premium, 100% angus. As far as how we’re different from Five Guys generally, we serve sweet potato fries, use 100% canola oil in preparing our fries, and we have smoothies and shakes.”

The Gambino brothers are trying to run a greener operation, with reduced wattage LED or CFL lights and eco-friendly little touches like napkin and utensil dispensers that release one-at-a-time, making it hard to grab a fistful of products, many of which will probably be wasted.  The cups are made of corn products so they biodegrade more quickly. Burger Boss pays a recycling service to collect all garbage simply because it’s the right thing to do.

The Gambini had plans for this restaurant four years ago, but the name for their new place came only last year.

“My 10-year-old son is such a foodie,” Anthony told us, “that we’d always ask him what he wanted to eat and one day he says, ‘I’d like to go for a burger.’ So I replied, ‘OK, boss.’ When I heard it, I really liked the sound of it, that combination: Burger Boss.”

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...

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