Ultimate Italian Bacon Cheeseburger

Pairs well with:


Get cozy and get pouring. Our Merlot is the wine for long weekends and lengthy chats.

This burger is a creative twist on the traditional bacon cheese burger using classic ingredients found in Italian cuisine.It is representative of Chicago’s strong Italian heritage. The salty pancetta and parmesan blend perfectly with the creamy fontina cheese to create a flavor explosion that is truly unique.


3 lbs ground chuck
3 tbsp shredded paramesan cheese

1/2 cup Sutter Home Merlot
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 large garlic clove
1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 large tomato, cut into 6 slices
1 1/2 cups sliced yellow onion

Parmesan cheese crisps:
1 cup + 2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

Garlic Mayonnaise:
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp Italian seasoning

2-3 tbsp olive oil to season grill
1 tbsp sea salt, ground
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
12 slices Fontina Cheese
6 Kaiser rolls
18 slices pancetta bacon – thin sliced
6 leaves romaine lettuce – washed and dried


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the burger patties, divide the ground chuck into 6 equal portions. Make an indentation in the middle of each patty and fill with 1 1/2 tsp of shredded parmesan cheese per burger. Fold the patty around the parmesan and shape, while handling the meat as little as possible. Cover patties loosely with plastic wrap and set aside.

For the marinade, combine the Merlot, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and Italian seasoning in a 1 gallon size plastic freezer bag. Seal bag and squeeze gently to ensure all marinade ingredients are well mixed.

Slice tomato into 6 slices. Slice enough onion to make 1 1/2 cups. Add tomato and onion to bag of marinade. Seal bag and refrigerate until use, turning occassionaly to ensure all sides of the vegetables are coated with the marinade.

For the 6 parmesan cheese crisps, heat a large fire-proof cookie sheet on the grill. Make each crisp by placing 3 tbsp of parmesan cheese in a circle shape on the cookie sheet and sprinkling with 1/4 tsp of Italian seasoning. Cook 6-8 minutes on the first side and 2-4 minutes on the second side until golden and crispy. The crisps should be easy to flip and remove from the cookie sheet once they are done. Remove the cheese crisps from the cookie sheet and place uncovered on a plate until ready to use.

Remove the onions from the marinade and grill on the cookie sheet for 5-8 minutes until soft and lightly browned. When the onions are done, remove from the cookie sheet to a plate and set aside.

While the onion is cooking, grill 2 large cloves of garlic in 1/4 tsp of olive oil on the heated cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes until golden and soft. Place garlic in a bowl and allow to cool slightly. Remove cookie sheet from grill. Add 1/2 cup of mayonnaise to the cooled garlic. Stir in 1 tsp of Italian seasoning. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble the burgers.

Brush the grill rack with 2-3 tbsp of olive oil. Place the patties on the rack and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook, turning only once, until done to preference, 5-7 minutes for medium. Lay 2 slices of fontina cheese on each burger during the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Remove the tomatoes from the marinade and grill 1-2 minutes on each side. Pull tomatoes off the grill and set aside.

Place the kaiser rolls cut side down on the outer edges of the grill and toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of cooking.

Grill pancetta on the grill for 1 minute on each side until lightly crispy. Remove from the grill and set aside.

To assemble the burgers, spread a generous amount of the garlic mayonnaise on the cut sides of the kaiser roll. Place a parmesan cheese crisp on each bun bottom followed by 3 slices of the pancetta. Place 1/6 of the grilled onions on top of the pancetta and top with the burger patty. Lay 1 slice of romaine lettuce on top of the burger patty followed by 1 tomato slice. Add the top bun and serve.