March 20, 2024

Ottoburger Reopens at New Location in Hopewell, as Customers Line Up to Sample the Tasty Treats

SUCCESS STORY: “We are looking forward to getting back to our original concept and vision of Ottoburger. We will offer accessible value-based real food, with friendly service in an informal, down-to-earth atmosphere.” Maria and Otto Zizak are shown in the new location of Ottoburger, their popular restaurant, which will also have some surprises in its spacious location.

By Jean Stratton

There is a new look at 65 East Broad Street in Hopewell. Ottoburger, the popular restaurant that closed in 2022, is back! It just reopened this month in expanded quarters at the site formerly occupied by the Brick Farm Market.

“There were so many disappointed customers when the original Ottoburger closed, and we kept getting inquiries about it,” says owner Otto Zizak. “People started coming even before we had opened! Now they’re coming all the time. We are so glad to be back!”

Feel-Good Place

The new location offers far more space than was available at the original site, and this opportunity has led Otto and his wife and co-owner Maria to offer an intriguing, even surprising, new look.

In fact, it is reminiscent of a combination ice cream parlor/diner of the mid-20th century. This was a deliberate choice of the Zizaks, Otto explains.

“I’ve traveled extensively in the U.S., and I always loved the old diners that I saw across the country. I wanted to incorporate some of that feeling here. We are a feel-good place, relaxed and unpretentious. And what is new is that we will now offer milkshakes, ice cream, and donuts, both classic and baked.”

These additions to the menu are also reflected in the restaurant’s redesign and decor. A counter with 18 aqua-topped bar stools does evoke memories of an ice cream parlor of the past, and round tables and booths offer more seating.

Customers are also delighted to know that the signature Ottoburger and several other hamburgers are prominently featured on the menu, and the emphasis of fresh farm-to-table food remains a strong focus of the restaurant.

The Zizaks, who have been serving customers the best food and unique recipes for many years, have a special story to tell. Growing up in what was formerly Czechoslovakia, Otto and Maria have known each other since the second grade. The importance of eating good food, with healthy ingredients, was always emphasized.

“My family were food people,” says Otto. “We enjoyed cooking, and eating good food.”

“As a little girl, I helped my mother and grandmother with cooking,” adds Maria, who oversees the Ottoburger kitchen. “We had our own garden, and we did a lot of preserving, including jams, pickles, etc. I also helped with baking.”

High Praise

Otto moved to the U.S. when he was 14, and Maria followed later, after graduating from college with a M.B. in economics. They were married, and later were involved in five restaurants, including two in Brooklyn, N.Y.: Brooklyn Korso and Brooklyn Beet Co. The focus was on Central European food with an informal menu, especially including their unique hamburgers.

The Korso Burger was acclaimed by customers and critics alike, earning the “Best Burger in NYC” award twice from the Village Voice, and was featured on the Food Network and the Travel Channel. They also received high praise in numerous publications.

Despite such resounding success in Brooklyn and the Big Apple, Otto, Maria, and their three children wanted a change.

“We had been looking for a farm so we could grow our own vegetables and provide farm-to-table service for our customers,” explains Otto. “We were able to find a farm here in Hopewell with 53 acres. It is near our restaurant, and we grow beets, beans, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, strawberries, and organic alfalfa for the cattle on the nearby Double Brook Farm.”

“We had been drawn to the culture, values, and agricultural riches of central New Jersey,” he continues. “We especially like Hopewell. It has the feeling of a country town, and a bit of European flavor, with friendly people walking around and interacting. A real community.”

The opportunity to have the farm has been an important factor, he emphasizes. “I’m European. and the way restaurants in Europe functioned was that you brought in products from the farm. We try to do that here by having a local supply chain. As restaurateurs, we like the ‘no sticker’ appeal. There is no distributor/warehouse, etc. Everything comes right from the farm. It results in the freshest ingredients and also reduces the impact on the environment due to transportation, unnecessary packaging, and such.”

Guilty Pleasure

Since their arrival in Hopewell, the Zizaks have not only focused on their farm, but of course on the restaurant as well as on a new online operation — Hopewell Farm Works.

“I do have a guilty pleasure in taking on new projects,” reports Otto, with a smile. “I enjoy planning and seeing them happen.”

He is also intrigued with the history of the 65 East Broad Street building. Originally built by the Arena family in 1933, it then housed both their Italian American grocery store and an automobile dealership and garage.

It changed hands over the years, and was the location from 1955 to 2010 of the Malek Chevrolet dealership. Accordingly, as a reference to that history, a 1958 aqua Chevrolet pickup truck is prominently displayed in the restaurant. Not only is it an authentic piece of automotive history, it is a conversation piece as well. And because the area is so spacious, the truck fits very smoothly within the overall decor.

In addition, an upstairs dining area is available for private parties, family gatherings, kids’ birthday parties, and more. It also has a counter with barstools, a large center table, and booths.

As an added attraction, a vintage 1948 red Jawa Czechoslovak motorcycle is on display. “My grandfather had one,” explains Otto. “I think it ties in with the automotive history of the building and the blend of cultures — American hamburgers made with a twist by Eastern Europeans.”


Of course, Ottoburger’s menu specializes in hamburgers, including beef and veggie, among others. The award-winning Korso Burger is among the very popular choices, and features all grass-fed beef patties, a special deep-fried Langos bun, apple-smoked Heritage bacon, emmentaler cheese, spicy beet house-made mustard, and pickled farm vegetable of the season.

“The burger is wrapped in rising Hungarian dough and deep-fried,” explains Otto. “All our buns are baked in our special brick oven, which has a very high temperature.”

Other burgers include The Otto, with a blend of 100 percent grass fed local beef, baked potato bun, Lancaster cheddar, field greens, New Jersey tomato, and sriracha aioli.

The veggie Beatnik features Otto’s own beets, black-eyed pea root, guacamole, goat cheese, celery, and arugula. Other burgers include turkey, pork, chicken, or shrimp base. All burgers are served with french fries or salad.

Not Burgers are available as weekly specials, and include a number of favorites, such as Bryndzove Halusky with petite hand-cut potato noodles, bryndza cheese, crisp bacon bits, and fresh chives.

In addition, there is Otto’s Goulash, a spicy beef brisket stew with crisp spatzle, caramelized onions, and organic salad. Special hot dogs are also available.

Local Sourcing

As Otto has pointed out, local sourcing is a priority, and that includes meat that is humanely raised at the Double Brook Farm and other local farms.

Now, on to the milkshakes, ice cream, and donuts! These new additions have contributed a sweet pop of flavor to the customers’ palates, and the response has been very enthusiastic.

Milkshakes include vanilla, chocolate, and seasonal berry. Homemade soft serve ice cream is available in vanilla, chocolate, and swirl.

Classic donuts — frosted, berry, and chocolate — are offered, and special baked Hopewell Cream, hazelnut, and seasonal berry donuts are also on the menu.

Ottoburger blend coffee, cappuccino, and espresso are available, as are homemade lemonade, local fruit mixers, and organic orange juice. A variety of sodas, including old favorites such as sarsaparilla and birch beer made for Ottoburger by a boutique soda company in Hackettstown, are also offered.

In addition, bottles and half bottles from Wine by Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes are on hand.

Prices cover a range, with drinks from $3 and up, specials from $9, and burgers (a half-pound of meat) at $16. A children’s menu is complimentary for kids up to 10 years old for dine-in service.

Sixty customers can be seated, and there is also seasonal outside dining. Lunch, dinner, and takeout are all available daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Hopewell Farm Works

Six months ago, Otto and Maria added a new online venture to their thriving culinary operation: Hopewell Farm Works.

“We offer quality healthy food, including meat, seasonal produce, and baked goods such as bread, croissants, and pastries,” reports Otto. “A big part of it is that we deliver free to a wide area, including Princeton, Hopewell, Flemington, Lambertville, and New Hope.”

Otto and Maria Zizak are proud that they have the opportunity to offer customers fresh, quality food from nearby farms, including their own.

“I love to cook, and it is a pleasure to serve our customers,” says Maria. “We feel we are a real part of the community, and can truly get to know people. We hope everyone will come and enjoy our food and spend time with us.”

“We’ve had this dream to have our own farm and restaurant, with real farm-to-table service,” adds Otto, who is involved in every aspect of the business. “I came to this town unknown, and have been able to acquire the farm, open the restaurants, and try to make a difference, providing people with good food. This is magical for us, and there is a lot to look forward to.”

For further information, call (609) 388-7333. Visit the website at