Originally Posted by IGOTGAME
As far as bbq...virgils is very overrated. someone talked me into going twice and I was far from impressed.
Virgil's is not even on the list for barbecue in NY for me. Like if you were to ask me to name BBQ places in NYC, I might forget about that one.
The real barbecue in NY thing started with Blue Smoke
about 10 years ago by the guy who created Shake Shake and a bunch of other great restaurants, Danny Meyer.
He had to solve a few problems to do this.
One he needed a real pitmaster. He sent his chef across the country for like a year to learn how to do barbecue.
(I was once in a bbq place in Texas right by the train tracks. I found the place on a local's suggestion that Virgil's was the place to go for sausage and that the other place, I was about to go: You're gonna want to throw rocks at that place after you been to Virgil's.
While at Virgil's watching two generations of Mexicans argue with each other across the bar [very entertaining by the way] and listening to nortena music, we see this old guy come in with WWII veteran hat on and shirt that said Virgil. So we start talking to him and sure enough after he got the Army in 1946, he opened this place up and has been there ever since. When he found out we were from NYC, he said, "You know that Blue Smoke? I taught that Kenny boy how to cook."
Two. He needed to find a place for pit in cramped NYC. There's 15 stories of apartments above Blue Smoke, so he to
find a way to vent his pit smoke through the buidling without disturbing the tenants and without creating too much updraft in the pit which would raise the temperatures too high and thus kill the meat.
Three. He had to get NYC diners to get into barbecue. He had enough credibility with his customers from his other restaurants that he was able to bring in a high end crowd. I remember when I opened all the executives where I worked were asking each other if they had been there yet.
Blue Smoke is where I would go for BBQ in NY if it was a big family, dress-up gathering. It's a bit more refined (and thus less authentic) than Hill Country. If it was all about the food, I would gladly go to Hill Country.
The other thing about Blue Smoke is that it is deliberately not a single regional style. They have Texas salt and pepper beef ribs with no sauce (which are fantastic and that was the first place I tried them.), Memphis baby back ribs and Kansas City Spareribs. They do North Carolina pulled pork. They do some things great and some not so great.
Danny Meyer also created a the Big Apple Barbecue
event that brings real pit masters to Madison Square Park for a weekend in July which is usually crazy hot, crazy overcrowded with crazy long lines and crazy worth it. Best sampling of different styles of smoked meat on the planet
So all of a sudden, you have new yorkers who can tell you why whole hog is different from straight pulled pork.
Prior to Blue Smoke, ever one was all excited about a bbq place that used to serve out of a sports bar in Queens, that looking back on it, probably never measured up to the real stuff anyway.