Smokin' Al's - Massapequa
My wife and I went here the other weekend with a couple of friends and were quite impressed. Although the place was packed to the gills, we pretty easily maneuvered into a spot at the bar. Although there was a 1.5 hour wait, it was well worth it. Although the decor is sparse, it really is a beautiful space, with exposed brick walls, wide pine floors, and exposed wood ceiling. Plus, we got to bask in that glorious smoke smell the whole time, and as a bonus for those bourbon drinkers out there, they have Blanton's, and have heavy hands when pouring. Plus we got to watch as dish after huge dish passed by us at the wait station (Note: must try the nachos - giant - next time). Make sure you have someone seated facing the hostess station, since seating numbers are non-sequential, and you may not hear them call your number over the crowd - you have to rely on the placards they hold up.
We started off with an app of burnt endz - the ends of beef briskets that they scorch after smoking. Incredible! Cruncy outside and nice and tender inside. For dinner I ordered the baby back rib/smoked sausage combo with baked beans and cole slaw for sides. In true barbeque fashion, you can have your ribs wet or dry. Of course I chose dry. The ribs were very tasty with an excellent dry rub. Nice and singed outside, but very tender with an excellent smoked flavor. I tried a bit of Al's rattlesnake sauce with them - it added a nice amount of heat to the ribs and some sweetness. I wasn't sure what to expect with the sausages, and was surprised to taste that they were Italian sausages that were thrown in the smoker. A new but delectable taste for me. The beans and slaw were both homemade and excellent. No mayo to be found on that slaw and there was plenty of brown sugar and molasses in the beans.
My wife had The Melt sandwich. You get to choose what type of meat to put in the sandwich and she wisely chose the pulled pork. The best I can describe the pork is it has that texture that makes you just want to chew it with your molars and bask in that taste, if it makes any sense. The sandwich (the size of a LARGE Italian roll) was covered with onion straws and cheddar cheese.
The best taste of the night though was the double order of sweet potato fries that my friend got, covered in brown sugar goodness. A side dish and dessert rolled up into one.
Go there, go hungry, because you'll be bringing home plenty for leftovers.
The BBQ is decent enough at SA's, though I've only been to the Bay Shore location. Last time I was there, we all got "The Works": a hero roll with chopped brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken, and smoked sausage, covered with melted cheese and then topped with haystack (deep-fried) onions (wish I had remembered to ask for it sans cheese--personal taste). Horribly, guiltily, tasty. However, I once had sliced brisket there that was somewhat leathery.
It grieves me, though, to see Smokin' Al's so jam-packed busy while Ephesus just up Park (south of Sunrise) doesn't have those numbers--and I've always enjoyed the food at Ephesus far more than at Smokin' Al's.
I was there about a month ago for lunch. I enjoyed the experience and I would go back, but it would be as an upscale diner. The BBQ was average at best. The service was excellent, the portions were huge and the non-BBQ items were clearly the hit of the table.
I would have been happier if Al had used the extra space in the new location to get a serious pit. It would have been great if the same attention that was spent on the location, atmosphere and menu was spent on true low and slow cooking.