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New Bar-B-Que in Montco.

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Driving west on Germantown Pike from West Norritonjust before the intersection of Rt. 363 (Valley Forge Rd.) at Fairview Village, we have a new bar-b-que place in the 'hood. I've driven past for almost a year while Benny LaRoma's BarBQue USA took shape and the smokehouse was built in the rear. Last night, I tried to get into a packed house where I was warned "be prepared to wait" while they frantically attended to patrons with all the disorganization of opening night. So, I took a menu and left.

Tonight, I returned to a sign that all beef ribs had already sold out. I also ordered the last chicken before briefly discussing biz with frazzled but accommodating owner, Benny. He smokes all of his own meats - pork, beef and turkey, roasts his own herb-rubbed porchetta and features his own smoked fennel-seasoned sausage. An array of sides is offered along with a sauce bar. Ambiance is a zero but the huge platters of Texas brisket, spare ribs and back ribs make up for it. (Having been "off the hoof" for about 25 years, I'm not into oink or moo but my grilled half chicken was very good.) Mixed combination platters are also available. But it already seems that the take-out counter is the busiest. If you need a few racks of fresh smoked ribs to feed a crowd, this is the place.

Of note is Benny's commitment to the PA Preferred program that buys only from local farmers - both meats and produce.

Benny says he will close for Monday to re-stock, get his house in order and his phones working. He''s been seriously underprepped and never expected the land office business he's had in his first two days. The website is also under construction. If having a BarBQue craving or need to quickly feed a football team, I recommend!!

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  1. Thanks for the quick review. I live a few blocks from the place and have watched and waited for it to open. I saw the line for lunch on Friday and decided to wait a couple days before trying.

    1. Drool! I will try to take John there later today! Cannot wait! Thanks so much for posting! I love me some carbs but just Wow!

      1. I'm looking forward to trying Benny's. I've eaten at Abner's in Jenkintown a couple of times and found the bbq ribs and chicken to be good (for Philly) but not great. In a pinch, the ribs at the Collegville Diner are okay and the ribs at Blue Sky are fairly good. There is also a new bbq place (Boston BBQ) on 202 in the shopping center behind the closed Shell station south of Via Veneto's. I haven't tried it yet and will post when I do.

        1. We ordered from here yesterday.The portions were fairly large. I reccomend all to try.

          1. We went here yesterday and I must say I was pretty satisfied. They have a few bugs to work out but that comes with the territory. The beef ribs were very good as well as the zucchini chips.

            1. OK, Hounds. This was a home-at-the-computer day so I took a break and went back to Benny's Bar-B-Que USA for lunch. The Mixed Grill Platter was an overflowing basket of five very generous smoked spare ribs, a grilled chicken breast, four large (definitely U15, maybe U12) tequila lime grilled shrimp, a large link of fennel-seasoned sausage, a generous blob of roasted onions and red bell peppers served on grilled, buttered baguette with flaky biscuit and corn bread (Northern style, that is - just ask for them) for $18. So much I had to bring some home. Sides of veggies, smokehouse beans, red Bliss potato salad, roasted corn, Charleston slaw, baked sweet potatoes etc. are available as platter additions for $3 more.

              That was more meat than I've had in the last year combined but I had to know for sure. I'm trying to talk Benny into doing smoked chicken in addition to the regular grilled.

              Local hounds, check this out!

              7 Replies
              1. re: Chefpaulo

                I am scrambling to free up my schedule! Is it a BYO? Because it sounds like a great Girl's Night Out!

                1. re: crazyspice

                  I don't see why not, but its a really Spartan place with hard chairs, bright lights and not conducive to a lingering meal. I think it will seat about 14 to 16 at any one time. Its really a take out place with a few tables on the side. But call (610-539-2350 - the phones are working) and ask. Benny is the owner and Vinnie is the chief cook and rib chopper.

                  1. re: Chefpaulo

                    We can't wait to go there! do they have a website yet or do we need to drive by to get a menu?

                    1. re: jujuthomas

                      Website is still under construction but Benny says BYOB if you're going to hang in for table service. The menu is still in flux. He dumped the salad selections (they looked good) but I guess garde manger takes too much time away from his meat and poultry service. Yes, do stop by for a menu..

                      1. re: Chefpaulo

                        I live about ten minutes away...so on my list to try. I have been disappointed with the ribs in the Philly area...so I bought a smoker and do my own...but this place sounds good.

                        Will report back on my findings...thanks for the heads up.

                        1. re: Adenn1

                          I bought a smoker, too, (a Brinkman) but its a lot of hassle and fuss for the occasional meal. For my parties, I cure chicken thighs in a brining mixture of salt water, apple cider and minced onion overnight and then cold smoke them for about 5 hours with applewood chips. In between parties, I'm glad Benny's is just up the hill. Chef Vinnie says he'll put pepper-rubbed smoked chicken on the menu in a few months. I'm ready anytime, Vinnie.

                          1. re: Adenn1

                            Add me to the list of happy customers. Picked up the sampler plater with the various ribs, chicken and got the brisket. My wife and I thought everything was very good. Ribs were very tasty and I like their KC sauce. Overall--a solid "A".

                2. Oh my! Finally stopped in yesterday about eight pm and I was in heaven. My friend and I each got a sandwich platter and shared. He got the pulled pork and I got the beef. It's been so long since I've had such good barbecue. You add your own sauces and they have quite a selection but I couldn't get past the mild sauce. It was all I could do to stop myself from eating it up with a spoon. And of course the meat was awesome without the sauce. The pulled pork was moist and flavorful without a trace of fat or gristle, and the brisket was to die for. I got a tasty large sweet potato and some good red bliss potato salad just to break up the barbecue. There was moist hot corn bread and a fresh biscuit too. My friend got homemade mac and cheese and some green beans. I think someone else already posted but I did ask and beer and wine are fine to bring with. Which brings me to my last point! This place is like two minutes from Capone's!!!! Dear chowhounds, please tell me quick, what is the best beer to go with BarBque??? Because I'm going back tonite or tomorrow. They said the response has been even better than expected. They've only been open a week and the repeat business has been phenomenal, people coming back three and even Four times!!! Again thanks so much for posting about this place!!!

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: givemecarbs

                    I like Moretti. Dry with a crisp finish and compliments bbq rather well.

                    You could also try any kind of brown ale. I think Capone's had Brooklyn brown ale at one time.

                    Victory Prima Pils or any kind of German Pilsner is also a good choice.

                    1. re: Diego Sanchez

                      Thanks so much for the advice! I went back to the BarBQue today and split a smokehouse sampler with a friend. It came with three spare ribs, three back ribs, 1 beef rib, 2 pieces of chicken, and 1 smokehouse specialty meat all for 18.00! What a heady experience even though I forgot the beer! But I'd be forgetting my own name if I didn't mention the amazing texas toast! Next time I'm going back with one or more of those recommended beers in hand and getting an extra order of that yummy grilled to order texas toast with my BarBQue! So good!

                      1. re: givemecarbs

                        Can someone please provide the address? And the web site too--I know it's not up and running yet, but perhaps it will be in the not so distant future. Thanks!

                        1. re: Lotus7

                          I don't know who did Benny's take-out menu but they omitted the basics - no address, directions or phone number. I tried to MapQuest it for you but came up with nuttin'. Its on Germantown Pike at the top of the long hill between Trooper Road and Valley Forge Road. Its on the left between the used car lot and the marble/granite dealer where Fairview Motors used to be.

                          The phone number is 610-539-2350. Tell them they need to update the menu with this information. Website is coming.

                          1. re: Chefpaulo

                            Chef,

                            Take a look right next to the Eagle and their phone number, address and website is listed.

                            This said, a big thanks to all that have posted about this place as it is awesome! We had the baby back ribs, spare ribs (they were out of the braised beef ribs, but I got the last rack of the spare ribs) and brisket and I honestly can't say which I liked better. For sides we had mac and cheese, slaw, beans and stuffing. All of these were great as was the cornbread.

                            Honestly the only thing that was subpar was the biscuit, but, quite frankly, with how good the meat is, they can hold the biscuit.

                            The best thing is that we have leftovers for tomorrow night! :)

                            A definite MUST go in Montco.

                            1. re: mitchh

                              Not on mine, mitchh. I guess I have a "first edition" sheet with the phone number written in pen above the eagle banner. And, it has a "From the Garden" section of salads (Hickory Hill Salad, Farmer's Market Salad, etc.) which have since been deleted. Benny said he gave out a thousand of these before the new ones went to press. I have a collector's item!

                              1. re: Chefpaulo

                                Chef,

                                The new menu still has the "From the Garden" section.

                  2. We just ate there tonight based on recommndation from my man's friends. We got take out and were not disappointed! The amount of food was unbelievable and it was great! We are self-admitted smoker snobs. We have a pretty elaborate smoker system and recipes and have actually planned an entire vacations to visit specific bbq/smoker restaurants. The staff is amazingly friendly and knowledgable. We ordered when we arrived and while we waited, Benny and his staff were overflowing with great conversation. They have the easiest beef ribs I have ever eaten. The menu I picked up tonight lists the website as www.barbqueusa.com and address as 2974 W. Germantown Pike, Fairview Village. It's in the old Fast Freddie's building. Benny rocks!

                    1. Went for some BBQ on Sat and got a combo of chicken, ribs, brisket and pork. The ribs were the star. Great hickory flavor through and through for which you really do not need sauce and nice crunchy pieces of skin....hhmmmm....pork (Homer Simpson impersonation). The chicken leg was juicy and flavorful as was the pork butt(?). The only item that did not shine was the brisket, which was a bit too dry and not moist which is how I like my brisket. Cornbread was buttery and mouth watering.

                      Adore the BBQ sauces they have, ranging from Carolina Mustard, Kansas, Chipotle, MAOF (ask them what it stands for) and a few others I am not remembering. My favorites were the chipotle and MAOF (which is supposed to be their hottest, but is not really that hot).

                      Service is very friendly and homely. Great local business that deserves our support!!

                      To the folks at BarBQue USA - keep up the good work...you are off to a great start.
                      ---
                      For those trying to pin-point the location, it is right next to the used car dealership on Germantown Pike 1/2 block from the intersection of Rt 363. Once you are in the vicinity, follow your nose....the smoke perfumes the air beautifully.

                      1. Stopped in today with my 5-year-old to pick up some takeout to sample. We got the smokehouse sampler with pulled pork and potato salad and baked beans as sides. Everything, especially the beef rib, was moist and delicious. The potato salad was terrific and the beans tangy and also tasty. I was partial to the Carolina mustard sauce, while my husband loved the Kansas City and MAOF. Service was slightly slow (quite a few people at the counter) but very friendly and accommodating -- crayons and paper were offered to my daughter while we waited. We will definitely be back!

                        1. Love it! We went there tonight and it was great. we wandered around back after our meal and checked out the smoker and talked with Mike, one of the owners.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jujuthomas

                            Went yet again last night and tried the turkey, chicken and sausage. All were excellent. Both the chicken and turkey were moist and tender while the spicy sausage was very tasty. The roll that they serve the sausage on is a bit too big and crusty for the sausage and it could use some more peppers and onions.

                            We got there around 5:30 and by the time we left it was packed.

                            1. re: mitchh

                              mitchh - i think you were there the same time as us... we pulled in in a black mustang at the same time.
                              the turkey was amazing. I will certainly get that again. but I'm looking forward to trying the chicken as well.
                              the cornbread was also really delicious.

                          2. My husband and I have been to BARBQUE USA three or four times now. We have a smoker at home and like to do our own BBQing, but BARBQUE USA food really is delicious!

                            We had a tiny mistake on our last order and Benny went way beyond making it right. I already put his menu in my neighbors mailboxes, but I wanted to put the recommendation out to all the hounds on the PA board.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: eapayne

                              I might have seen you there in line once. Were you buying a full rack for your son? Stopped there fairly early last saturday evening and a lot of the BBQ faithful were eating there. There was a happy communal buzz as we all chomped down on the ribs and corn bread and pulled pork and such. Everyone seemed very very happy. And the leftovers nuked up so nicely with some fresh corn from Merrymeade which is directly on the way home for me. My friend swears by the big sweet potato side, it goes so well with the smoky meat. As we left they were pushing two tables together for a big family group.

                              1. re: givemecarbs

                                Had yet another great meal at BBQ USA.

                                If you haven't tried it, the pork quesadillas are a must. It's a great combination of smoky pork, cheese and a peach salsa.

                                I wonder if they are going to try some Thankgiving catering specials as their turkey is as good as I have ever had.

                                1. re: mitchh

                                  Just got back from there and I asked. They are gonna do turkey and also ham specials for Thanksgiving! What a great idea! Today I finally got past the yummy samplers and tried just a pulled pork sandwich. It is huge! My friend got the sausage sandwich and we ended up mostly sharing the pork and taking the sausage home for later. The sausage is really tasty too and comes with roasted red peppers. My friend John is a roasted pepper fiend so I'm thinking of going back there later tonite with him. LOL. We also got extra corn bread, biscuits and of course Texas Toast! This place makes me so happy!

                            2. We are planning to pick up take out tomorrow to take to a friends house. If we were supplying the main course for 4 adults, how much would you recommend? It looks like we will do a mix of beef ribs, brisket and pulled pork (sides are already taken care of). Thoughts? Can't wait to try it out after all the rave reviews!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: KateForbes

                                Kate,

                                Are you referring to the braised beef ribs? If so, I personally wouldn't recommend those and go with the back ribs as I didn't really enjoy the braised ribs at all.

                                As for portions, without knowing how much the 4 of you eat, it's hard to say. If you ask the staff there they will point you in the right direction.

                                Carbs,

                                Yes, their sandwiches are huge. My only "complaint" is that I think the rolls that the use (I don't know if they use the same roll for the pork and sausage) are much too big/crusty and overpower the meat, which is the highlight of the sandwich.

                                1. re: mitchh

                                  Hmm. I guess we will have to agree to disagree on the rolls, but since I love talking about this stuff, what kind of roll would you suggest? I admit that when I shared the sandwich yesterday I got two extra orders of texas toast out of sheer greed, (my user name says it all) and I made myself a mini pork sandwich using the toast. So good! I didn't even realize the pork quesadillas were on the appetizer portion of the menu, I never read that far! What sauce, if any do you dump on your pulled pork? It never ceases to amaze me how perfect that pork is. I've had it so many times and never a hint of gristle or fat and yet so moist and flavorful!

                                  1. re: givemecarbs

                                    I would personally like to see something more like an Amoroso hoagie/cheesesteak roll rather than such a crusty roll, in other words something a bit softer. IMO that big crusty roll overpowers the sausage, peppers and onion sandwich.

                                    You definitely need to try the pork quesadillas. Absolutely phenomenal.

                                    As for sauce on the pulled, pork, only a little bit of the Carolina red for me.

                              2. Has this place closed or are they on vacation? I drive past it everyday and it's been closed for over a week. Does anyone know what's going on?

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: cheesewit

                                  Aww crap. Seriously? I was just thinking i needed a pulled pork sandwich from there. :(

                                  1. re: givemecarbs

                                    Yes, seriously. I'm hoping someone will answer this and tell us that it's only a brief hiatus.

                                    1. re: cheesewit

                                      Their website is still up, but when I called there Friday at 7:45 their phone just rang and rang.

                                      It would certainly be bad news if this place closed, but given the history of places that were in there before that, it wouldn't shock me.

                                      1. re: mitchh

                                        You know, that's the first thing I thought of. No one has been able to make a go of it for long at that location.

                                        1. re: cheesewit

                                          Best ribs I've have at Whoolies in the parking lot of the American Legion Post in Ambler. Maple Ave & Mt. Pleasant Fridays and Saturdays only. Pork ribs the big ones $25 a rack. The sauce is incredible! Not sure when he knocks off for winter. Does anyone else know about this?

                                          36

                                          1. re: thirtysixred

                                            I have hard about how great the BBQ is at Whoolies but never ventured over. It is such a hole in the wall location, its intimidating! The smell when you drive by is wonderful. I'
                                            ll have to try it one of these days.

                                            1. re: AmblerGirl

                                              Where?

                                              1. re: mitchh

                                                I do not know the exact address but it is right off the train tracks, I think the cross street is either Tennis or Forest Ave. Sorry to be vauge. It seems to be pretty mych a smoker in a parging lot, so follow the smoke!

                                  2. re: cheesewit

                                    I pass by every day on my way to work and fear it has bitten the dust. They did a land office business this summer and fall but, suddenly.......

                                    Cheeswit is right. Its been a tough location You don't see it when driving south and its hard to turn in when going north on Gnt. Pike. It had such promise. I hope Benny, Vinny and Michael will turn on the lights and fire up the smokehouse once again.

                                    CP

                                    1. re: leepinleemur

                                      I was referring to the place in Ambler.

                                      1. re: PattiCakes

                                        Patti,
                                        From what I hear the food is terrific, but it's not a place, it's a guy with a smoker in a parking lot. Don't know if he's there on weekends in cold weather... From 309 turn onto Mt. Pleasant Ave (it's only on 1 side of the road). Follow Mt. Pleasant until you cross the train tracks. Just past the train tracks on your left will be the American Legion - the smoker is set up in that parking lot.
                                        I know he does ribs, and I think chicken as well.

                                        1. re: jujuthomas

                                          I tried Whoolies a few years ago. It was pretty good, the racks are huge. He ran out of chicken so I couldn't try that. It is probably best to call in your order before you show up. When I got there, he took my name and order on a tiny notebook. About 3 hours later, I was next on the list. In the summer, it was like a neighborhood party, everyone waiting for their orders. The most interesting thing was the rub on the ribs, it tasted like they coat them in spicy brown mustard.

                                    2. Anyone been to BarBQue USA recently? I tried to stop by twice in the last 2 weeks and it has been closed.

                                      Any info?

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: percyn

                                        As posted above in this thread it appeared to shut down in December. I haven't seen any additional details.

                                        1. re: percyn

                                          It's been gone for a little while now :(

                                        2. Does anyone have hope or heard anything concerning BBQ USA reopening?

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: eapayne

                                            I don't think so.

                                            One of my neighbors was friends with the owners (he helped develop their sauce recipes) and he hasn't heard from them in months.

                                            1. re: mitchh

                                              This is bordering on eerie. I sent them an email months ago with no reply. Vinnie certainly knows who I am and would have responded. If you look in the window of the restaurant, it look likes they could reopen within the hour. Everything is still in place. Its like it was closed one minute and abandoned the next.

                                              From the traffic flow, I thought they were doing well and would be around for a while. Did they secure loans from questionable sources who suddenly "foreclosed?" I hope they are all OK.

                                              1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                Me too. I know they had to go thru hoops of fire to get those smoke houses built because of zoning and all. :(

                                                1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                  that is eerie - have you done a goggle search on Vinnie's name to see if there are any archived news stories that might explain what happened?

                                                  edit: I didn't find anything when I googled the resto name - just excellent reviews.

                                                  1. re: jujuthomas

                                                    It's times like this I regret being a poor barbecued deprived Yank. There are other things I miss about about living elsewhere. They had grits at the breakfast buffet at the R and S Keystone but not the last two times I went. I used to live in Raleigh NC and there were good barbecue restaurants Everywhere! Same with Gainesville, Fla. We hounds need to take action!!!! I NEED mah barbecue! Someone needs to take over the reins at Barbecue USA! The smoking huts are all built! Come on people!!!!!!! :) Seriously we got a real demand for fine barbecue in this area.

                                            2. Latest update: drove by the place this morning and there are two FOR RENT signs on the store - one on the front door and one on a sign on the exterior wall.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: cheesewit

                                                I really wonder what happened there. Benny jumped through hoops for a year to get the smokehouse permit. Their product was excellent and I thought it was a sure thing. If they closed and the business folded, I'd think the "for rent" signs would have been up months ago. But, as I noted in my previous post, nothing was touched inside.

                                                They worked really hard and its a shame to see such efforts at a novel and successful offering suddenly fizzle for no discernable reason. maybe just not popular enough. I hope we haven't heard the last of them.

                                                CP

                                                1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                  Like chefpaulo said. I'm a Yank but I still love me some fine barbecue.

                                                  1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                    Maybe WE should take it over...

                                                    1. re: cheesewit

                                                      I would be your first customer!

                                                      1. re: cheesewit

                                                        Let's do it! Are the smokehouses still there? If I don't get my barbecue soon I'm fixing to move to the south where such things are more appreciated. Sigh.

                                                  2. Something's stirring in this location. After remaining dormant for 9 months, all BarBQue USA signs were removed and a new sign is in the window: NOW HIRING with a phone number. I have no idea what's moving in as all of the original signs are gone. Does anyone have any info?

                                                    10 Replies
                                                    1. re: cheesewit

                                                      Sure hope it is another bbq joint. Would be a shame to waste the smoke houses.

                                                      1. re: cheesewit

                                                        I saw the sign as well. I'll give a call to see if Vince and Benny and Michael are rejuvinating the old biz.

                                                        CP

                                                        1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                          Whoa, be still my heart!!!!!

                                                          1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                            I would doubt that it is them that is re-opening. Otherwise, why not just re-open as is?

                                                            1. re: mitchh

                                                              I agree. And, I believe the smokers are no longer there.

                                                              1. re: cheesewit

                                                                Awwwww.

                                                                1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                  I guess they filled all of their openings - the NOW HIRING sign is off of the window.

                                                                  1. re: cheesewit

                                                                    Either that or the new owners have reconsidered opening a restaurant there given that the location is a graveyard of failed eateries (even good ones).

                                                                    1. re: mitchh

                                                                      Very true. Nothing has made it there. Traffic flows past - not easy to stop and turn in.

                                                                      1. re: cheesewit

                                                                        That's why that spot will always be a failure no matter how good they are. It's just too hard to get in and out of there! If you are going down toward E. Norrition, you can turn in, but going toward Collegeville, forget it during lunch and dinnertime hours. It's just a bad spot for a restaurant.

                                                        2. Drove past and saw a sign in the window announcing Ava's Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner coming soon and another one, "now hiring."

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: cheesewit

                                                            We all agree that it's a horrible location, but for a "diner" type place, it's even worse.

                                                            At this point, maybe it's time to lock this thread up since it's certainly not "new bar-b-que in montco" anymore. :)

                                                            1. re: mitchh

                                                              I agree with both comments.

                                                              1. re: mitchh

                                                                Well if USA barbecue or any great bbq place opens around here, I want to know about it! Keeping this thread alive lets people know there is certainly interest in good bbq in this area. I'm interested in Ava's since I'm out that way most days. Posts about new places opening soon tend to get buried fast unless it's a local legend like the Broad Axe. For example I want to post about a new mexican place opening soon in the towamencin shopping center and also a business called supersuppers that looks to be opening soon in the montgomeryville shopping center where red lobster is. But those posts will be lost and when these places finally open and I report back, I'll probably be replying to myself. Supersuppers looks like a take out place that claims to have the answer to what's for dinner?" Anyone heard anything about it?

                                                                1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                  Supersuppers is a national franchise chain. They have one in Exton (and Scranton and Erie). Yes, it's a dinner take out place. Check them out online at supersuppers.com

                                                                  1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                    On this board, but with regard to Pittsburgh, there is a what's opening, what's closed post that at least had a fairly long life. Might be worth considering for other area(s)
                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/610251

                                                                    1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                      Carbs,

                                                                      I hear what you are saying, but a post about Ava doesn't belong in a thread called New Bar-B-Que in Montco.

                                                                      That said I think it's safe to say if Ava, Supersuppers or the Mexican place are good people will post about it, just like they did when Bar B Que USA was open.