Food & Drink » Food & Wine

Best Bets: Cheeseburger Soup at Rizzo’s

Chef Michael Patrick offers “cheeseburger in a cup.”

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Thanks to chef Michael Patrick, you can have your cheeseburger — and drink it, too.

He created his version of Cheeseburger Soup, one of the hot — as in popular and temperature — items at his restaurant, Rizzo's by Michael Patrick.

"The very first restaurant I worked at, they had a version of this soup there," Patrick says, adding, "They had pickle and tomato and a little crouton on it, but I decided to make my own version."

Rizzo’s chef Michael Patrick serves his up cheeseburger soup.
  • Rizzo’s chef Michael Patrick serves his up cheeseburger soup.

Just about the only thing missing in Patrick's Cheeseburger Soup is the hamburger bun. "I start out with onions and garlic, and I sweat them out with a little bit of butter. I add a roux with flour. Then I add milk, heavy cream, and we let that thicken up really nice. And then I add Zatarain's Creole mustard and English mustard — both spicier-type mustards; not your normal [brands]. It's got a really good kick," Patrick says. "Zatarain's has got horseradish in it, which I like.

"Once I add all that, I brown off a bunch of 80/20 ground beef. Then I'll add that to the mix. Then I'll add the cheese, which is a cheddar cheese and cheddar jack blend. I let all that come together. And then I add lettuce and tomato at the end. I don't want to break it up by mixing it up. I fold it in. I'll dice up the tomatoes and kind of shred the lettuce."

People refer to it as "a cheeseburger in a cup," says Patrick. "It tastes like a cheeseburger."

Patrick, who is from Painesville, Ohio, says he had never heard of Rotel dip before he moved to Memphis. "I noticed it at some people's house during a football game. Cheeseburger Soup is very similar to Rotel. It's not nearly as cheesy, but it has some good similarities. So I was telling people: 'I'm going to make you some Yankee Rotel.' And all I made was Cheeseburger Soup."

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Rizzo's also features traditional-style hamburgers on Mondays. "Beer and Burger Night is what we call it." Describing the Rizzo's Burger, Patrick says, "I'm always looking for a nice, juicy, kind of dripping-down-my-hand burger. But what makes, I think, my burger unique is the seasoning. I put a little Lawry's, Worcestershire, shallots."

And, he says, "There's something about a burger that's done on a flat top.We do that here, and it seals in that juiciness of the burger.

"But the Cheeseburger Soup is on the menu all the time," he adds.

As for the popularity of his Cheeseburger Soup, Patrick says, "It won me Soup Sunday a couple of years." That's the annual Youth Villages fundraiser, which just made it under the wire this year before the pandemic shut down fundraisers.

Rizzo's was closed between March 23rd through June 2nd, Patrick says. It had to shut down again July 24th after a kitchen employee tested positive for the virus. They had the restaurant re-sanitized and will reopen this week.

Patrick has his tables "six feet apart. We have hand sanitizer on every table. As soon as somebody leaves, we break everything down. We temp you when you come in the door. You have to have a mask to enter. These are things we've been doing since we got back open June 2nd."

Patrick wants the public to know what's going on at Rizzo's. "Putting those things out there to people, posting about it, kind of solidifies that they know we care and we're willing to take measures to make the place safe for people."

And, he says, "If you invite someone into your home, it's a safe environment. We're inviting people into our restaurant. So it needs to be a safe environment."

Rizzo's by Michael Patrick is located at 92 S. Main; (901) 304-6985.

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