With three new restaurants opening in Westchester in the last year, barbecue is hot in the county.
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958 E Main St, Shrub Oak (914) 214-8239
Bob-B-Q’s pulled-pork sandwich, surrounded by several scrumptuous sides (cornbread, anyone?)
A certain editor-in-chief of a local magazine and I decided to take the trek up to Bob-B-Q’s on a cold day this past spring. We’ll cut the Northern Westchester smokehouse some slack because it’s new to the now-bustling Westchester barbecue market. Bob-B-Q’s does counter service in a nondescript store inside of a mini strip mall. Across the street is a liquor store, and Bob-B-Q’s is BYOB. Just don’t ask for a cup for your liquor-store purchase. They had no cups the night we visited. Straws, perhaps?
Bob-B-Q’s sells both St. Louis-style ribs and baby back ribs. The former are sweet and sticky and nearly perfectly cooked. Actually, “sweet” doesn’t begin to describe them. They were candy-like, tasting a bit like brown sugar. And this is good. The baby back ribs were not as sweet and had more of an apple-cider taste. Still, they were enjoyable. Bob-B-Q’s pork is juicy, and again, sweet—almost too sweet. But the color of the meat was perfect—brown with a touch of pink. There were also slices of crunchy bark mixed in.
And the taste? It had a subtle smoky flavor that was just awesome. Damn, this is good pork!
Sides are good, too. Love the portobello crisp, cooked tempura-style, and the French fries, extra crisp with lots of salt. The cornbread is delicious, too, and, not surprisingly, sweet.
BEST SLICED STEAK
➤ Mighty Joe Young’s
610 W Hartsdale Ave, White Plains (914) 428-6868
It’s only natural. Mighty Joe Young’s, the very popular and kitschy jungle-themed meat-eaters’ sanctuary in White Plains, added a barbecue menu to its beefy protein-laced bill of fare two years ago. My first impression? Wow, this is good eatin’. But with a new year came a new chef and, at least on my visit, things don’t seem as good—the care and originality that were always infused into the meat at Mighty Joe’s were gone. This restaurant had always been my go-to grill when I needed a good steak (or slice of wild boar) cooked perfectly. But let’s not dwell on the negative. Let’s obsess about the brisket. Yum. Mighty Joe’s does brisket really well—no small feat. Beef can dry out even quicker than pork and loses its flavor and texture fast. It’s no surprise that Mighty Joe Young’s, which specializes in beef, avoided this problem. Its “sliced steak” requires very little chewing; it’s so tender. It also has a woodsy flavor that many diners, myself included, like. Biting into it inspired thoughts of sitting in front of an old cabin in the country, with the grill on and the smell of freshly cooked meat wafting in the air.
Ribs on the Run’s melt-in-your-mouth BBQ chicken, served with both corn fritters and golden cornbread.
➤ Ribs on the Run
396 N Central Ave, White Plains (914) 428-7427
Ribs on the Run owner John DeRosa, known as “The Big Rib,” has been in the barbecue biz for 30 years, 18 of them in Westchester. You won’t notice DeRosa’s eatery in the Dalewood III Shopping Center on Central Avenue, unless you’re actively looking for it. Inside, a large anthropomorphic pig-themed mural covers one entire wall. It’s counter service here with a few varnished wooden tables scattered about. DeRosa’s philosophy: serve lean ribs that are pre-cooked in an oven with liquid smoke flavor (never steamed). “Smoking machines leave a pinkish line that makes the meat look raw,” he says. After that, grill ’em. His choice of sauce: a vinegar-based commercial sauce (he won’t tell which) with secret spices and hot sauce.
What to get? Chicken is my least favorite barbecued meat, yet I would return to Ribs on the Run for its poultry any day. The bird has a wonderfully smoky flavor, is really tender, and wears a great golden color. It tastes like barbecued chicken should. To go with your bird, try the mouthwatering sweet but not overly fried corn fritters and, of course, the delicious cornbread.