Everybody knows that to be from Philadelphia is to have a glint of madness in the eyes, a smile relishing the shock and horror of the sensitive and the mollycoddled when confronted with the sight of a bulbous, half-naked Eagles fan stuffing his face with a cheesesteak sandwich in the middle of a blizzard. King George really did not have a clue about who he was dealing with in 1776.
Seems exaggerated, you say? Then explain the success of Philadelphia’s six-year-old PYT Burger. In this age of calorie-counting health freaks PYT stands out like a Maurizio Cattelan statue with menu items like the Firebird Chicken Sriracha (a chili-and-sriracha-marinated chicken patty, pepper jack, thin cut onion rings, ranch, lettuce and tomato) or the “Doh! Nut” (beef patty, American cheese and chocolate-covered bacon on a glazed donut bun). PYT made national headlines in 2013 with the creation of an abomination, a burger that, it’s rumored, the Vatican may have considered condemning as the Eighth Deadly Sin: the Deep-Fried Twinkie Burger.
Until today, the rest of America considered themselves safe. They took comfort in the idea that PYT was tucked away in the bowels of Philadelphia. But now the barbarians have catapulted themselves over the rabid howls of New Jersey and landed in the heart of the Bowery. PYT has come to New York, and after some soft-opening test runs fully opens today.
The mad geniuses behind PYT are manager Tommy Up and chef Kim Malcolm. They and the rest of the team have been very busy over the past weeks, spending half a week in Philly where they are moving into a bigger space, and the other half in New York setting up shop at 334 Bowery, where the tapas joint Espoleta used to be. Their full menu is not yet available (waiting on shipments of fries and other ingredients, as well as a liquor license to make adult milkshakes), but they’re already serving beer and some of their staples: their cheddar-bacon “PYT” Burger, their pepper-jack-bacon Pickleback (made with a Jameson whiskey glaze & fried pickles), and the Cheesesteak Donut Burger (a patty and cheesesteak in between two glazed donuts).
PYT has already made friends in New York, partnering up with Japan Premium Beef Inc. on Great Jones Street, which led to burger shop’s first New York-inspired creation, the Basquiat Prime Beef burger (Basquiat lived and died in the building where Japan Premium Beef is located). “The guys at JPB made this beef especially for us,” Malcolm added. “The meat itself costs about fifty-something dollars per pound, and the spices used on that is very high end. It’s like butter, it’s so soft.” The ritz is reflected in the price tag: the Basquiat is yours for a cool $64.
More creations (for more affordable prices) are inevitable. “What gets us going is just putting some combinations together and going into the kitchen with an idea and they make it better,” said Up, sporting a Viking-like beard and a ruddy smile. “If it’s never been done and we think it’ll taste good we make it.”
Up and the team are excited about their new location. “Being in this neighborhood is great because we get inspired walking around and seeing the vendors all around, the history of art and culture. The clincher was when I went to Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream and it had this interesting vibe and I found that they had this Kanye West-inspired flavor pop-up. The products were so off-the-wall and I’m a huge Kanye fan and people were so into it that I felt we could take what we’re doing and we’d be appreciated. We’re bringing you guys the best of Philly and we’re excited about remixing our flavors with what we find here.”
PYT Burger, 334 Bowery, Opens today, 6pm-2am. Closed Sunday and Monday. (Hours will expand).