Thirty local restaurants cooked up their best burgers, topped them with everything from frizzled onion straws and mac & cheese to creole remoulade sauce and jalapeno jam, placed it all between a bun (or loaded potato skins) and tossed it into the ring during the 2nd Annual Newport Burger Bender contest, held in Newport and Bristol County from February 16th – 25th.

After 10 days of dining and voting, Discover Newport has revealed the results;

La Forge Casino Restaurant’s Crowley Burger, touting an all-beef patty, Gruyere cheese, creminis, tempura cornichons and truffle aioli between a buttery brioche bun, which has now become a part of the restaurant’s regular menu, won the coveted popular vote in the second annual Newport Burger Bender.

“We are thrilled to hear that we have won the Burger Bender Competition!” said James “JR” Rodrigues in a prepared statement, the restaurant’s general manager, when informed of the victory. “We are extremely proud of our staff for the effort and support. The Crowley Burger was delicious and proudly honored a great Newport family. Thanks to all who came out for it.”

Providence Journal Food Editor Gail Ciampa crowned 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grill her critic’s choice with their Secret Burger crafted with Wagyu dry-aged burger, foie gras, butter-poached lobster topped with pickled red onion, truffle garlic aioli and house made pickles on a house-made onion bun.

“Don’t assume the toppings of foie gras and butter-poached lobster are why this was my favorite of the 2018 Burger Bender. No doubt the richness of the ingredients makes this a winning combination on any plate,” said Ciampa in a prepared statement. “It was all about the burger, the dripping-with-juice Wagyu dry-aged beef. Made from one the Japanese breeds of beef cattle known for superior marbling, the flavor was amazing, the meat tender. Starting with that beef gave Bowen’s Executive Chef Walter Slater’s burger an edge. Pickled red onion, truffle garlic aioli and house-made pickles are the perfect complementing condiments for the stellar burger on a house-made onion bun. Several restaurants amped up their burgers this year and I loved them all. But nobody did it better than 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grille.”

Jamie Coelho, Associate Editor at Rhode Island Monthly and author of The Dish monthly newsletter declared The Wharf Pub‘s Antipasti Patty the creative champion, with its grass-fed Portsmouth all beef 1/2 pound burger on a grilled ciabatta roll with Prosciutto De Parma, lemon-dressed arugula, fresh mozzarella, balsamic peppers, onions and RI mushrooms topped with cherry pepper aioli.

“It’s an Italian take on a bacon cheeseburger, subbing in prosciutto and mozzarella in place of bacon and cheddar. The balsamic roasted red peppers, onions and Rhode Island mushrooms gave it an epic presentation while rounding out the flavors with a bit of sweetness from the caramelized vegetables and cherry pepper aioli. The toasted ciabatta roll held up to all the toppings and gave the perfectly cooked burger a nice and sturdy foundation,” said Coelho in a prepared statement. “And I’ll never look at French fries the same way again after munching on those truffle tater tots!”

The Newport Burger Bender is now an annual simple burger contest which recognizes the bevy of culinary creativity throughout our destination. There is no participation fee for restaurants nor has there ever been. Participating restaurants must be in Newport or Bristol County, Rhode Island, and this year’s contest was limited to the first 30 restaurants to register. Participants receive complimentary promotional materials including custom menu inserts and Burger Bender coasters. Each entry is photographed and featured on DiscoverNewport.org.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.