I had come across an article earlier this year on the top burgers in the state of North Dakota. I kept a couple in the back of my mind including a place in Bismarck by the interesting name of Reza's Pitch. I was traveling across the state on Interstate 94 earlier this year and I decided to stop into Reza's Pitch to check out the place.
From the logo, you can probably figure out that the "pitch" that is part of the name refers to the field on which soccer is played, usually called a "pitch" outside of the United States. The Reza behind Reza's Pitch is Reza Kamranian, an Iranian immigrant who opened his eponymous restaurant in 2010. Prior to opening his own restaurant, Kamranian worked in a number of restaurants starting out as a dishwasher and working his way up in a number of various positions.
He eventually ended up in Bismarck and became a partial owner in three restaurants before becoming the A&W/Long John Silver's franchisee in the area. However, after the parent company overseeing the franchises was sold to a group of investors, Kamranian didn't feel that he was getting the support he needed to continue with his franchise. That's when he decided to strike out on his own. He closed his remaining A&W/Long John Silver's in 2009 and renovated the building into a sports bar with a soccer theme. In March of 2010 he opened Reza's Pitch with an emphasis on both burgers and craft beers.
Reza's Pitch is located at the corner of Front St. and S. 3rd St. in downtown Bismarck. (see map) The interior of the place kind of had a contemporary industrial look to it with exposed metal beams in the ceiling, large windows letting in a lot of natural light, a series of tables and booths in the dining area and a good sized bar with the order window into the kitchen behind the bar. Numerous flat screen televisions were hung through out the place all tuned to sports channels. Ironically, none of the televisions was showing any soccer.
I took a seat at the bar and was greeted by a young lady by the name of Jessica dressed in a Reza's Pitch soccer jersey, similar to the other servers in the place. She asked what I wanted to drink and I wondered what they had in beers. She gave me a beer menu and I picked out a local IPA - Feast Like a Sultan from the Laughing Sun brewery in Bismarck.
Jessica asked me if I had dined at Reza's Pitch before and I told her that I hadn't. She pulled out a sheet that was basically their menu where you check off what you want, then hand it in to your server once you've made your selection. At the top of the sheet, Step 1 is "Choose Your Striker", basically choosing between a 1/3 lb. single or a 2/3 lb. double burger. Step 2 is "Let's Kickoff" - premium toppings such as various types of cheese, bacon and/or a fried egg. Step 3 is "Select Your Midfielders" which allows one to select various veggies to put onto the burger. Step 4 - "Get Onside" - is where you pick various spreads, sauces and condiments including horseradish, barbecue sauce, a spicy blue cheese dressing, a spicy cajun ranch and something called "Sudden Death Ketchup". From there, you get to select your "Sidekicks" - sides that include fries, onion rings, stuffed jalapeños and housemade potato chips.
I got the double burger with Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms (raw mushrooms were also available), and bacon - I know, it's my standard burger. The burger patties were flat grilled and juicy. This was definitely a multi-napkin burger with the cheese oozing out from under the lightly toasted bun. I could have easily gotten by with a single burger patty and I'm glad I didn't get any sides to go along with the burger. The bun - always a key to a good burger - was light and spongy, and it held together very well. It was a very good burger with a great taste.
Compared to other burgers I've had in North Dakota, the burger at Reza's Pitch was one of the best I've had. The service was efficient and reasonably quick for a lunch-time crowd, the beer selection was numerous and interesting, and it was a nice little sports bar with good burgers and an adequate amount of sides and appetizers to choose from. Reza's Pitch was a good find in my travels.
(Update October 2016 - On a recent trip to Bismarck, I passed by Reza's Pitch and found that it was closed. It turns out that owner Reza Kamranian decided to retire after 40 years in the restaurant business. He closed the restaurant at the end of June of this year. That's too bad because they had a very good burger at Reza's Pitch.)