Pittsburgh is a BBQ nightmare.
Those aren’t my sentiments — they belong to a man calling himself “Andy the BBQ Guru.”
A couple weeks ago, Andy sent me a manifesto of sorts that lamented the death of local BBQ joints. The correspondence starts out by listing all the BBQ joints that aren’t here anymore — like Bobby Rubino’s and Famous Dave’s — the perfect beginning for any local rant.
I wasn’t sure why Andy mentioned these places, because based on his writing, he thought they all sucked, just like every popular BBQ joint open now. Andy’s complaints ran the gamut from “tender, denture-friendly, soaked in sauce, no smoke at all” to “how can ribs be black from over-caramelization, yet cold?”
After reading Andy’s letter, the last thing I wanted was BBQ. But a day later I found myself at North Park Lounge, in Cranberry Township, where they smoke ribs every Saturday. Despite Andy’s warning that all who eat BBQ around here are doomed, I ordered a rack of ribs. I wasn’t disappointed.
The ribs came out with a perfect, flavorful bark; the texture was toothsome, but not too tough and not too tender. Most importantly, the full, smoky flavor was more than I hoped for. As quickly as Andy’s dispatch had destroyed my faith in local BBQ (although, I feel, we do have some pretty good places), these ribs restored it. I definitely urge BBQ fans like Andy to give it a try. If they don’t live up to expectations, I’m sure I’ll hear about it. www.northparklounge.com