has only been open for about a month, but it feels as though it has been there forever.
This casual, cheerful spot on Maplewood Avenue buzzes with families, local workers and students from .
Of course, the fact that it is owned and operated by one of the best-known restaurant families in town doesn’t hurt.
“We’re working the kinks out,” owner Angelo Vayas explained modestly. Vayas owns the restaurant with wife Mary — who in her “spare time” operates the eclectic boutique . Angelo is also the proprietor of the wildly popular "chainlet," with locations in Maplewood, South Orange and Summit.
The space was briefly , run by the couple’s son Aris. Although that spot didn’t work out the way the family had hoped, Aris was deeply involved with developing the Village Burger menu and concept.
The burger selection includes the bestselling Original Burger with Cheese, topped with special sauce. Other options are a California Burger with onions and avocado, a Pizza Burger, a BBQ Burger or a Chili Burger. The meat is a special blend made just for the restaurant by Summit Meats.
“We tried a bunch of different blends,” said Mary, “and we liked this one the best.”
They seem to have chosen wisely. The burgers are flavorful and juicy, and cooked just right. Non red-meat eaters can opt for the Turkey Burger or the Black Bean Burger. Burger alternatives include five different types of chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and several salads. There is also a children’s menu.
What’s a burger without fries?
In addition to standard crinkle-cut, Village Burger has addictively crisp Sweet Potato Fries and decadent Disco Fries, smothered in gravy and cheese. The onion rings are first-rate. Served on a metal pillar, they are crunchy and light. We fought over them.
But our favorite side was the delectable fried pickles, perfectly fried in an herb-inflected batter.
Everything is made to order. The young, enthusiastic staff manages to keep things moving along during busy times. Many of them have worked with the Vayas family for years; for instance, manager Laura Provenzano was previously at Maplewood Trattoria.
Many customers have asked why there are no milkshakes on the menu. The answer: with so close by, the Vayas family doesn’t want to compete.
“We encourage people to get a milkshake next door and bring it in,” said Mary.
There are plans in the works to add to the menu. Look for falafel, gyros, a fish sandwich, a portabella burger and a bigger selection of dipping sauces. “We just want to get a feel for it first,” said Angelo. “So far, so good.”