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North Jersey Barbecue

A friend of mine recently ate at The Mason Jar in Mahwah. He told me that the barbecue was outstanding. It had to be the best in New Jersey. I have a hard time believeing this, and wonder if anyone can shed any light on the quality of the 'Cue.' I'm vegetarian, and so can't taste for myself.

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  1. Tried the chicken and babyback combo last week.Surprisingly the ribs were somewhat dried out,yet the chicken was juicy and tender.I'm guessing it was brined beforehand.There's numerous signs saying the place is Under New Ownership,so I don't know how it comares as this was my first visit?The service was good and friendly and it seemed like a favoritelocal watering hole.Next time I go i'll check out the wood fired pizza.I saw the oven flaming as I was leaving and a lot of the bar customers seemed to be enjoying it.I'm thinking that this place may be flying under the radar with the Palm Terrace Steak House right next door.

    1. I have a hard time believeing this.........

      You would be correct........

      1. I haven't eaten at all of the bbq places in NJ, but if this is the 'best', then we've got problems.

        31 Replies
        1. re: tommy

          Didn't you check out this place a couple of years back, Tommy? I seem to remember that you gave it a mixed review, but said that it wasn't horrible. I don't think you rated the BBQ too highly, IIRC.

          1. re: menton1

            You are correct. The BBQ wasn't very notable. The burger, I thought, was pretty good. It's a nice family place, not a serious BBQ destination.

            I'm convinced there aren't enough people who care about BBQ in this area to support a serious BBQ restaurant. The tastes of most people lean toward fall-off-the-bone ribs slathered in sweet sauce. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not BBQ.

            1. re: tommy

              Ive never been to the mason jar, but i have to admit, there is really not too many choices for bbq up in bergen county or north jersey for that matter unfortunately. Cubbies is mediocre (at best) the place in Washington Township is good one visit, crappy the next. Anybody have any hidden gems up in bergen or surrounding counties they would recommend trying??? I heard theres a good place off 303 in Rockland county, cant remember the name tho....

              1. re: yogi70

                Does Cubby's even use smoke? I had thought not. If not, it's not BBQ, and shouldn't enter into the dialog. :)

                I liked Bourbon BBQ in Hawthorne, but they had a fire and I suspect we won't see them reopening.

                Bailey's up in Blauvelt had Fink manning the smoker for a few years, but he's since left. I'm not sure if they kept the BBQ or not.

                1. re: tommy

                  Baileys is the one i was thinking of, thanks... gotta try it.
                  wasnt there a finks in teaneck at one point???

                  1. re: yogi70

                    Fink was in River Edge at Fink's Funky Chicken and Ribs. That was his place. He then went to some other place that has since closed, and then up to Bailey's. I can't vouch for the BBQ there now that Fink is gone.

                    1. re: tommy

                      finally hit up Bailey's last week. First time visiting so I cant say how it was when Fink was the back there, but I thought it was FANTASTIC. started with brisket stuffed mushrooms and an order of hot wings. Mushrooms were out of this world, (didnt care for the horseraddish dipping sauce tho) spicy wings were very good, not great, but very good. shared a four meat bbq platter for two which included : brisket, baby back ribs, smoked sausage and bbq chicken, and each item was really really tasty. Ribs and bbq chicken came in an apple butter bbq sauce. sides were collard greens (cooked in bacon fat) and seasoned steak fries which were nice and crispy on the outside. we cant wait to return to Blauvelt and thank you Tommy for the heads up on this place.

                      1. re: yogi70

                        regarding north jersey bbq... has anyone tried the place in Montclair yet called the "wood pit"??? ive read on other sites its the best in the area. was thinking of maybe checking it out this weekend, but want some feedback from some fellow chowhounders before i go, otherwise its off to Baileys in Blauvelt for me.

                  2. re: tommy

                    Fink has opened a restaurant called John's in Pearl River NY / took over Danny';s BBQ Think it 65 Central Ave , will try it out. he hasn't been at Baileys for years and just got back into it, Bailey's has been using what he's taught them for years

                2. re: tommy

                  Of course folks around here don't care. I'm sure they think that the Ribs at Outback or Charlie Brown's are BBQ. (aaargh)

                  The chain restos continue to be packed daily with throngs of people wanting "no surprises" and being too lazy to seek out good, chef-owner restaurants, which is probably why there aren't many good ones in this neck of the woods...

                  1. re: menton1

                    Yeah, we don't have a real food-oriented culture in north jersey. The area is largely populated by parents with children, often times both work, and have horrible commutes. I can see the allure of a quick no-surprise meal with the 6 year olds at a mediocre restaurant.

                    Last I counted, there are 42 people in Bergen County who are really interested in food. 40 of them cook at home, and the other 2 go to NYC for notable meals.

                    1. re: tommy

                      Lol. I hear that Picnic is a really good dining experience, I have yet to go. Have you been there yet?

                      1. re: menton1

                        My dude and tried Picnic back in October...it was...ok. I really wanted to like it, though in the end, wasn't super impressed. A go back? no.

                        1. re: sixelagogo

                          Sorry to hear that! I was in Greece the first 16 days of October.

                          1. re: Picnicchef

                            I remember reading that you were gone after we dined there....I liked the space and many of the concepts, though some of the executions were off...that said, i wish your restaurant well - bergen county needs good eats!

                      2. re: tommy

                        RIGHT YOU ARE TOMMY
                        i live in Ridgewood and except for A Mano Dim Sum Dynasty,Its Greek to Me
                        and Masago the rest are forgettable
                        If I see one more mediocre Italian I will scream
                        Go into the city all the time why compromise
                        Bergen County is a wastleand both culturally and food wise
                        Why pay stoopid house prices live in Toledo instead if you are not going to be adventurious

                        A Mano
                        Ridgewood, NJ, Ridgewood, NJ

                        1. re: foodismylife

                          Housing costs are linked to many things beyond restaurant choices. For many people food just isn't a priority. Skiing isn't a priority for me, so I wouldn't spend a lot on a mountain home near great skiiing because I don't ski. It's not about laziness or anything other than lack of interest. I'm not sure why people (not pointing you out) tend to think it's some sort of character flaw to not be consumed with food and restaurants.

                          And of course the argument could certainly be made that Bergen county has some great choices (probably more variety than most other suburban communities), including Korean, Chinese, Mexican, Polish, and virtually any type of cuisine. Go across the border to Passaic and you have even more Mexican, not to mention Middle Eastern of all types.

                          But for that middle ground of restaurant, providing solid food, good service, nice atmosphere, good wine and cocktail lists, well, we're sorely lacking in that particular department. And BBQ, too.

                          1. re: foodismylife

                            You consider Brooklyn's pizza "forgettable"? Wow.
                            How about Pimaan in Emerson for Thai? It's as good as any I've had in NYC.
                            Petit Soochow in Cliffside Park - great Chinese.

                            1. re: foodismylife

                              You live in Ridgewood and you don't like Brooklyn's ?!?!?!

                              1. re: Hugh DeMann

                                Was that a requirement that I missed?

                                1. re: tommy

                                  It's one of the documents you sign at closing...

                                  1. re: menton1

                                    Good one, Menton1. Other Ridgewood requirements: You will watch Jamboree every year, volunteer at your kids' schools and put an anti-Valley Hospital sign in your yard even though their ER docs have patched up your doofus sports-playing kids a dozen times.

                                    But back to Brooklyns -- really good pizza, but that cash-only policy is arrogance personified.

                                    1. re: melissa511

                                      I wouldn't call a cash-only policy arrogant. For the most part it keeps the price down, which is nice.

                                      Now, installing an ATM at the location that charges 3 dollars for a withdrawal is just plain rude. Brooklyn doesn't do this as far as I know, but I've seen it.

                              2. re: foodismylife

                                Though their beer can be downright funky at times, I have to give Pearl River's Defiant brewery major props for their awesome weekend pulled pork. Best I've had in the area since moving here 9 years ago.

                                1. re: sixelagogo

                                  I've had incredible chicken wings there as well, though I couldn't tell you whether they have them all of the time.

                                  The beer scene can be idiosyncratic, but that's what I love about places that do things on such a small scale. And there has always been something excellent in the lineup whenever I've been there. I also kind of like the feel of being in a working brewery that also happens to have a bar in it, but that may be my own personal bias (I could go on about that subject for a while, but the bottom line is that something really got lost in translation when the brewpub concept hit the east coast in the early 90s, and it's nice to see a place going back to its roots).

                                2. re: foodismylife

                                  an $8 toll + NYC parking$$ + hassle factor = inertia for this BC resident.

                                  1. re: sixelagogo

                                    found out that Backwoods Bbq, (originally in Westwood) which was sharing space in the Dog House saloon in Washington Township, is now closed. The Dog House saloon's kitchen is temporarily closed for renovation, and when it reopens it will serve strictly "bar-food" no more Bbq. Backwoods was convenient because it was close for me, however they were very up and down. One visit would be great, and the next very disappointing. I have since tried Baileys in Blauvelt NY on the bergen rockland border, and hadn't returned to Backwoods since. Lately I have been hearing a lot regarding a new bbq place in Montclair called the wood pit. is it worth giving up a trip to Baileys? always looking for good BBq in the bergen / surrounding counties. unfortunately theres not much I've found. thanks in advance.

                                    Dog House
                                    141 State Route 94, Blairstown, NJ 07825

                                    1. re: yogi70

                                      I guessed you missed the separate thread, but Hog Wild in Caldwell rocks. They have a real smoker, and are turning out great ribs, brisket, pulled pork, et al. They also have some unusual stuff like smoked meatballs and fried green tomatoes on the menu. It's not far from Bergen, and definitely worth a trip!


                                      1. re: menton1

                                        Is Hog Wild still open? Based on the input from CH, we really wanted to check the place out so we went down Bloomfield Ave looking for the place yesterday and couldn't find it. (according to the address listed on their website it would put it around the same block as the Cloverleaf.) Tried calling but got an answering machine. Any ideas?

                                        1. re: NJ food dude

                                          It was open 10 days ago when we went. Doing a great business, wqould be quite surprised if it wasn't open. Did you see the sign over the place? It is down the block from a well-established Irish Pub, the name escapes me...

                                          The fact that you seemingly didn't find the store, open or closed, makes me believe you were at the wrong location...

                      3. There's a rumor on another board that Fink has returned to work at Johnny's Smokehouse, in Pearl River (Rockland). No reviews or confirmation, though.

                        I had a very disappointing second trip to Hog Wild in Caldwell. This time the ribs were VERY dry, and the brisket also was dry. The beans were a bit too herbed, perhaps with cilantro...

                        Any word on Wood Pit in Montclair?

                        Wood Pit
                        108 Bloomfield Ave Ste B, Montclair, NJ 07042

                        1. Love Bourbon BBQ.. I think they are reopening pretty soon, too

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: OliviaG

                            I'm not sure how soon. The building is leveled.

                            1. re: tommy

                              Bourbon BBQ in Hawthorne is open.

                              1. re: Sdenred

                                Yep- Bourbon BBQ is open. Don't bother. Ordered the 10 piece smoked chicken- got 6 pieces of chicken. They hacked each breast into 3- and considered it 6 pieces. Geez, why not hack each breast into 10 pieces- and call it 24 pieces? Ridiculous. Menu says 10 pieces- I expect 10 pieces. Not 6 pieces of chicken chopped up into 10 chunks. I needed 10 whole pieces to feed my family- and expected to get 10 whole pieces. Ya know, like maybe 4 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 wings, and 2 legs. I was so disgusted, and flabbergasted- I couldn't even eat it. I just kept staring at those breasts hacked into 3 "pieces" each- and wondering how anyone could possibly try to pass off 6 pieces of chicken as 10. No one in my family touched it- we just stared at it -shaking our heads.
                                When I called and questioned management about it they got rude and loud- and then hung up on me. Save yourself a trip. The parking lot is always empty when I pass by. It won't be open much longer.

                          2. There will be a new place in Montclair opening in the fall on the corner of Park and Bloomfield called Cooper's Union I've been told...I'll be there to see what's what if it comes together.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: coldbeer

                              Anyone been to the Wood Pit in Montclair?

                              Wood Pit
                              108 Bloomfield Ave Ste B, Montclair, NJ 07042

                            2. Gotta love Baileys

                              Baileys Blauvelt InnBaileys Blauvelt Inn
                              Place page

                              136 Erie Street E
                              Blauvelt, New York 10913
                              (845) 365-4004

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: MommyLovesToEat

                                I've heard their BBQ has gone downhill since the person who implemented the program left some years back. What's to love now?

                                  1. re: tommy

                                    Some local blogger invited himself to Johnny's Smokehouse in Pearl River, the new digs for Fink of NJ Fame. They apparently aren't up to snuff with the latest equipment, but the arrival of Fink is good news in the smoke-lover's world.

                                    Take the review with a grain of salt, because this blogger's MO is never to pay for food, so it's not the same experience the general public will have. Besides, it's now an FTC reg to "come clean' on one's blog about comped food...

                                      1. re: chuck98

                                        checked out Fink's new place in Pearl River called Johnny's B-B-Q Smokehouse Grill this weekend. Started with some texas lollipops (sausage wrapped in bacon) and some wings. lollipops were amazing and the wings were pretty good. For entrees we each got 1/2 rack of ribs. I had the spare ribs and my wife had the baby back ribs. we shared both and thought both were fantastic. portions are big, prices are fair and the Q is great - as to be expected from Fink. sides left a little to be desired however. you get a choice of 2 sides w/ your entree. I had the smoked brussel sprouts and cole slaw. She had the fries and bbq beans. of the 4, the brussel sprouts were amazing, seemed like they were sliced on a mandolin and fried crisp with bacon. very vinergary. really good. the rest however, were not. the slaw could have been the same slaw you get at any diner, the fries were pedestrian at best, and the beans were left untouched (watery and no flavor). besides the weak side dishes, the meals and apps were great and we will return. I was however, surprised to see no brisket options from their smoker choices. ??? almost forgot, the complimentary cornbread was delicious as well. now, the next trip over the border into rockland for bbq we must decide... bailey's or johnny's....???

                                1. Try Texas Smoke In Rockaway, off 80. I recommend the brisket highly. I've been there several times and haven't been disappointed yet. They also offer que by the pound for take out; an option I have never failed to pass up.
                                  There is also Hot Rod's in Wharton.
                                  I seem to remember Bourbon BBQ's newsletter saying they would be open July/August but I haven't been around for the last two months so I can't confirm it.
                                  As for Fink... I think we are all witnessing the slowest run for the Canadian border in history. (River Edge to Teaneck to Blauvelt to Pearl River) The man just can't resist a smoker when he sees one.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: wytewyz

                                    Texas Smoke brisket is not barbecue. It has no smoke rings and no bark. DO NOT GO TO TEXAS SMOKE LOOKING FOR SMOKED MEATS

                                    1. re: chowhounder411

                                      Totally agree with you about Texas Smoke. They should rename it Texas Nope.

                                  2. I went once when they first reopened, and I haven't been back. They were good before the relaunch, but now they're an overpriced joint serving mediocre food. A lot of reviews online of the place I've seen have been pretty lousy, and the parking lot usually seems empty.

                                    Take a ride down south to Buffalo's Chicken Shack in Wood-Ridge and get 100x better food for half the price.

                                    I miss Clixes.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: zhelder

                                      My buddy said I hope it burns down again and Clixes comes back. Ha! I will be checking out the Shack for sure! Thanks for the recommendation!