Reburger: slow fast food in the Oltrarno

Reburger: slow fast food in the Oltrarno

Some of the best burgers in Florence with a side of fries and culture.

Tue 27 Feb 2024 4:30 PM

They call it “the only burger in Florence”, a devilish claim designed to cause a stir and spark a conversation. But anyone who’s tasted a Reburger burger will nod knowingly, a smile escaping their lips: the food really is that good, as backed up by being the only burger place in Florence to have 4.9 ratings consistently on Google reviews. 

Charbel Khalil, Amza Zahouani and Elio Khalil

The “they” in question are a trio of guys, each talented in their own field. There’s Amza Zahouani, a brilliant food entrepreneur with real estate acumen, and there are brothers Elio and Charbel Khalil, the dynamic duo running the day-to-day operations. Playing to their strengths, Reburger is now nearing its second anniversary in the Oltrarno premises, a short distance from piazza Tasso.

“An industrial vibe is apparent indoors, from the raw concrete walls to the steel seats and breeze blocks studded with plants in the bathroom, but slices of culture are everywhere,” wrote The Florentine’s Helen Farrell last January in an independent review. “Books about mindfulness and international cooking surround the gunmetal bar, while Elio’s motivational pop art injects colour and consideration in the locale. The long, narrow space even benefits from a patio to the rear for alfresco burgers at warmer times of the year.”

While the interior design has largely remained the same, the business partners have changed gear on the cultural front, having hosted a number of artists over the last 24 months. The displayed works are now part of an ongoing curation agreement with Street Levels Gallery, arguably one of Florence’s leading contemporary art spaces. When we visited in February, distinctive blue acrylic-on-paper works of the plant world by urban artist Monograff lined the rustic walls and the guys were excitedly chatting about a forthcoming “constricted hands” painting workshop, while past creative events have included painting on vinyls and sneakers. Next up from March to May will be Mr G., a street artist, graphic designer and illustrator from Abruzzo.

Based on the runaway success of their initial burger offerings, the menu has been extended beyond the ever-delicious smashed, spicy Cuban and vegetarian evergreen burgers to include new entries. Take the Juicy Lucy, for example, an Instagram sensation as a knife cuts into the burger and cheese oozes out. (“It’s filthy,” laughs Elio.) Then there’s the Swiss Truff in a yummy combo sandwiched by the brioche bread baked by award-winning Wild Buns over the street. A side of fries is a given and the choice ranges from plain to Cajun and za’atar. (Or, as Elio puts it on Reburger’s ingenious IG and TikTok profiles, “Reminder to order extra fries, even when she says she’s not hungry”.)

While there’s always some cheeky international verve at Reburger (Amza’s Italian/Moroccan; Elio and Charbel are Lebanese), the chef was born and bred in the Oltrarno and quality is everything in the via di Camaldoli kitchen. “He’s from the ‘hood,” jokes Amza, before explaining how the Reburger team cares deeply about the local community. “We close at 10.30 every night and we never keep the music loud. This was a working-class part of town and the walls are thin.” About the grub, he explains, “We do fast food in a slow food style. Everything’s homemade. Nothing’s frozen and we even make our own sauces.”

Any given lunchtime or evening at Reburger sees a trendy young clientele play a game of Jenga, browsing the latest issue of Toilet Paper Magazine, sipping a cold beer and devouring some of the best, if not the only, burgers in town.

Reburger is open every day 11.30-2.30pm, 6.30-10.30pm, at via di Camaldoli 2R. Home delivery is available via Deliveroo and Glovo.

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