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Jan 27, 2011 09:06 AM

Pom Pom BBQ on Route 33 in Millstone

Has anyone been there yet?

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  1. Had seen this place under construction for a while; today's paper had an ad saying it was open, so I tried it.

    First, the ad was a little deceptive - it's not just catering and take-out and delivery - there are tables and there were a few people eating in. Second, the ad (and the logo) make it look like a cut-rate franchise with pressure-smoked (or pre-smoked) food. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    This is the real deal. I've been doing BBQ for forty years; some of you have had my Q at the old WineFests. This is it: hickory smoker in the back, and a pitmaster who's worked some of the great places, from trendy NYC to the triangle in NC. It's a little off-putting having your BBQ order taken by a girl with a pronounced New Zealand accent who freely admits that before comiing to the states, she had never had anything smoked but trout, but she was helpful, knowledgable about the menu, and managed to combine our across-the-board take-out tasting selections to the least possible price by matching things up into combos and specials.

    The pitmaster and I spoke for twenty minutes - he kept bringing out samples for me to try. The pulled pork (they had alread "sold out" of it, but he had a taste left in the back) was wonderful. Very pure pork, without anything hiding the flavor, and heat that didn't even appear until 30 seconds in. The ribs were not-quite-falling-off-the-bone - more a comptetion presentation than a normal restaurant one. The sauce was a cross between Piedmont and Memphis - not overpowering but perfect for the ribs. He doesn't brine and rub, he marinates, but the dark brown sugar he used in the marinade makes it seem like flavor from a two-step process. The Rotisserie Chicken was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It wasn't sauced, but sauce wasn't necessary.

    The sides, like in many great BBQ places, told the story. The candied yams were to die for - people who don't like yams will like these. Likewise the collard greens - no bitterness, not over sweetened, just wonderful round flavor.

    That's really the story here: the ingredients are king, and the preparation doesn't hide them under over-flavored sauces or heavy-handed seasoning. If you like the taste of meat; if you like the taste of veggies, this is your style place. They deliver within 10 miles, the prices aren't rediculous, and the smile you'll have when you taste the food won't leave your face for an hour.

    The sides

    18 Replies
    1. re: eapter

      Great report eapter, I know where dinner is on Sunday :)

      Do you know their hours.

        1. re: eapter

          Thanks, eapter. Great review!!!! I am with Tom....I know where dinner will be next!

          Tom, Pom Pom put a menu in our mailbox 2 weeks ago. I think they are open 11 - 10pm and maybe close at 9 on Sunday from what I remember reading. (I misplaced that menu!)

 website as I recall....hopefully soon!

          1. re: Angelina

            Their Website seems to be still under construction; I tried to find it myself before I went and the URL seems to be

            No hours on the menu, but the ad says M-F 11AM-9PM, Sat 11AM-10PM, Sun 11AM-8PM

          2. re: eapter

            We stopped for some BBQ but after seeing the rotisserie chickens decided to go that route. The chicken was very succulent, juicy and great flavor. Skin was crispy. large portions. Sides were the candied yams (excellent), collard greens and slaw (very good).
            Left stuffed and the bill was below $20.00.

            Nice to have this place in the hinter lands of Millstone. Next up this week is the pulled pork and ribs. If they are even close to the quality of the chicken, we're in for a treat.
            Pom Pom were during a brisk take out business as we were eating in. Hope this place does well, a great addition to the area.

            Thanks eapter!

            1. re: tom246

              Thanks for the report Tom.....did they mention a website coming soon or?...

              1. re: Tapas52

                I chatted for a minute or two but didn't get to ask them about the website. They were pretty busy when we were there.

                1. re: tom246

                  Thanx Tom maybe in time we'll get to see's only beneficial to their business I would assume.

                  1. re: Tapas52

                    Stopped by again last night for pulled pork and had a chance to speak to the owners. They tell me the website is coming along and should be up very soon. They're already working on printing a catering menu, but the catering is already available. They'll do pans and half pans of pulled pork, plus all the other menu items, etc. Maybe a good call for the Superbowl...
                    The pulled pork was as wonderful as the sample they gave me the first time. Personally I do BBQ with a heavier smoke taste, but from a pure BBQ perspective, they're right and I over-smoke my Q. As I said in my first post, nothing hides the flavor of the meat here. The sauce is a Memphis sauce - think Willingham's Mild. The one objection my wife had was that there was no bark in the sandwich - I'll ask about the possibility of ordering "Mr. Black" mixed in. Tried the coleslaw, corn and creamed spinich this time. The corn was very ordinary, the spinich extremely tasty and the coleslaw was that fine-grained style that's perfect for BBQ, but which you almost never see in Jersey.
                    The owners were touting the soups (yesterday Chicken, Clam Chowder and French Onion) and I'll stop by soon to taste those. Again, a very, very worthwhile visit.

                    1. re: eapter

                      How smoky should it be? I find most barbecue places don't have as much as homemade, but maybe I'm oversmoking. I usually smoke for half the total cooking time.

                      1. re: chuck98

                        Suppose it also depends on the total cooking time, and of course that depends on temp. That also explains, in part, why I end up with much dryer bark than PomPom - they do ribs for 6 hrs and shoulder for 8 hrs, at 225 degrees. I do ribs for 8 hrs and shoulder for 10 at 200-210. I smoke up until the last 2 hrs (got to be especially careful with the ribs because smoke will turn a glaze bitter.) Their stuff is more tender all the way through, with a colored and slightly chewy crust; mine is much more smokey, and has a crisper crust. Also, judging from the bark the pitmaster let me sample, I use about double the amount of rub they use. That would make sense since I brine and then rub, whereas they marinate - they need less rub in the smoker.

                        1. re: eapter

                          I go 250 until internal temp is 195, about 4-5 hours for ribs, 1.5-2 hours per lb for pork shoulder and brisket. No marinade but sometimes mop sauce (pork ribs only). Say 4 tablespoons of rub for a rack. Comes out good; tender and moist but some chew, rub and smoke fairly prominent.

                          1. re: chuck98

                            I don't want to turn this into a "Best BBQ Temperature" thread (we've got some of those around here somewhere <>) but remember that the collagen starts to melt around 165 (yes, I've seen it quoted as low as 140 and as high as 185, but 165 seems to be a safe midground.) My concern with smoker at 250 is that I can't manage to keep the meat in the ideal range (180-190) long enough. The longer in the range, the more tender the meat and the more geletin mouth-feel. As you get closer to 212, you start losing moisture. OTOH, in 40 years of doing Q, it's been my constant mantra that if it works for you, by all means keep doing it. <>

                            1. re: eapter

                              Cool, thanks for the tip. I'll try lower next time and see how it compares. But yeah, delicious and tender so far so worst case I've still got that. Cheers.

                            2. re: chuck98

                              I set my Bradley Smoker at 220 and cooked brisket to an internal temperature of 195 as well. Depending on the size of the brisket, it can take anywhere from 12-20 hours. I use jsut a dry rub and get a pretty nice bark .

                              I vary my smoke depending on what I am using. FOr heavier woods like mesquite, hickory, cherry, and apple, I use less smoke than I do with the special blend, alder, pecan, etc. I have however used smoke for almost the entire time cooking things, and I don't mind it one bit. Gives it great flavors! -mJ

                            3. re: eapter

                              "Suppose it also depends on the total cooking time, and"

                              Other more subtle factors: type of wood, condition (seasoned) of wood, size of pieces of wood, amount of bark on the splits . . .

                              Then you've got equipment factors. Electric machines don't have temperature spikes/drops, effects from weather, etc. A pit or an offset barbecue are going to require a great deal more skill, practice, and patience.

                              Contents of the rub have an effect on overall smokiness too as garlic powder and cheap paprika tend to get quite bitter making the smokiness less palatable.

                2. re: eapter

                  Stopped in for a quick dinner today. The bowl of beef barley soup was a good start and the order of 6 meaty tender ribs was an excellent finish.
                  For poster sleevesmcd who asked about a pulled pork platter, on the way out giving my regards to the chef for his prep of the ribs, I asked the owner about a pulled pork platter.
                  Answer was "no problem, just ask for it next time". May just take him up on that :)

                3. Street address?
                  I'm not familiar with Millstone, but I know how to get to Rt.33 :)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: BeeZee

                    514 Rt 33 West
                    Millstone NJ

                    It is in a small strip mall that also has a liquor store, bank etc.
                    About 1/4 mile BEFORE you get to Luchentos Italian Restaurant.

                    1. re: tom246

                      Is this where the Buy Rite is? -mJ

                      1. re: njfoodies

                        Yes, thats the same strip mall where Pom Pom is located.

                  2. Tried this place today. Had the lunch special half rack ribs w/ 2 sides and a soft drink. Price $10.99. The half rack turn out to be six decent size ribs. I picked mac&chese and yams as sides. I was totally stuffed. Oh, it came with a corn bread too.
                    I am no BBQ expert but the ribs are definitely smoked and i found it tasty. There are many other specials too but the main offering of this place are roteserie chicken, ribs, fried chicken and pulled pork.
                    One thing I like the most about this place already is there are numerous options that are under $10. So definitely my kind of place to go for a nice cheap lunch. Will return to try more

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: yCf

                      Just went last night on the way back to E. Windsor from the Freehold Mall (ugh). Dealing with the mall was almost worth it to finally try Pom Pom. We got ribs, chicken, and my daughter wanted a burger.
                      + The ribs were REALLY good. Real dark pink smoke ring visible as soon as you bit in. The right amount of sauce coating them. And my six rib order was probably 7-8.
                      +The chicken was fantastic as well...juicy and falling off the bone. The spice rub was spot on, a nice savory flavor.
                      +The burger didn't disappoint either. It was cooked to order and my daughter ate the whole thing she liked it so much (a rare feat).
                      +For sides we got slaw, mac and cheese, and some fries. The slaw was great...the finely shredded kind. The mac and cheese definitely seemed fresh and home made (though perhaps a little salty). The fries suffered on the drive home (a bit soggy) but weren't awful despite getting steamed on the 15 minute ride. Definitely want to try the greens and the roasted potatoes, etc.
                      + I did get a peanut butter was fantastic. Soft in the middle with some crunch on the edges. I'd come back again and again just for those.

                      Looking forward to trying the pulled pork. I was hesitant because they didn't promote it the same way they did the ribs and chicken (you only see the pulled pork as one of the sandwich options). Glad to hear folks speaking highly of it. Can't wait to go back. It is great to know that this spot is garnering such great attention as it fills a void in the land of the Italian and Chinese joints. Viva Pom Pom!

                    2. Add Mr. R. and me to those singing the praises of Pom Pom. Yesterday, before heading off to see "The King's Speech" (a superb movie!), we had lunch at Pom Pom.

                      Mr. R. started with a bowl of the homemade chicken noodle soup. In addition to noodes and carrots, there was lots of shredded chicken. I tasted the broth and found it to have good chicken-y flavor.

                      We each got the three ribs with two sides. I chose from the hot assortment: sweet potatoes and mac & cheese. Mr. R. got the cold sides: potato salad and cole slaw. We shared all of them. While they were all delicious, the standout was the mac & cheese. Fantastic! As for the ribs, each of us actually got four. They weren't the meatiest ribs we've ever had, but the meat was tender. They were basted with a ketchup-based (?) sauce, which I liked -- sufficient so that additional sauce was not needed. Not that there was any on the table though I suppose one could ask for some.

                      My only nitpick: I'd like better drinks options. There was no root beer, and the lemonade is Minute Maid, which has additives (quite a few) and is too sweet.

                      We wondered about the "Since 1969" on the cover of the menu. Owner Tommy Triantafillakis was on the premises, and we found out from him that he has owned the Pom Pom Diner, on 11th Av. & 45th St., since 1969. So, that's how Pom Pom BBQ got its name.

                      There are so many things on the menu we want to try. I think next will be the fried chicken and the sweet potato fries. But, then, there is that mac & cheese....

                      Although it's not my kind of place for dinner -- when we go out for dinner, I want to be served, and I don't want to eat off styrofoam or with plastic utensils -- we'll definitely be going to Pom Pom regularly for lunch.

                      Photos of our Pom Pom lunch here:


                      8 Replies
                      1. re: RGR

                        Nice pics, RGR. It's in my neighborhood and I definitely want to head over there based not only on the reviews of the above posters, but ON YOUR FABULOUS PHOTOS!! Thanks for making me hungry, although I just had dinner. LOL

                        1. re: NJFoodie

                          Thanks for the compliment, NJFoodie! :) I'm really glad to have Pom Pom only a 10-minute ride from our house. We need to keep getting the word out since we want a place with food this good to succeed!


                          1. re: RGR

                            That's it...RGR's pictures have made me want to go right now! :) (Thanks for the delightful photos!)

                            I definately want to try the place. So many great reviews!!!

                            1. re: Angelina

                              You're welcome, Angelina! Maybe we can meet up for lunch there one day soon. You can bring your darling little peanut along. :)


                              1. re: RGR

                                Sounds great! My little peanut loves company!

                                  1. re: RGR

                                    OK..since I am a HUGE follower of RGR's recommendations...tonight I picked up some food from Pom Pom!

                                    I was very pleased! I brought home a 1/2 chicken with a side of mac & cheese...(RGR, you are so right..that mac and cheese...yummmmm!) Also, 3 ribs with a side of cold macaroni salad. I liked the macaroni salad because it was not mayo-y..I hate when places make it using a gallon of mayo...:(

                                    The chicken was so moist and flavorful! Seasoned just right! The ribs were very good, too. I am not much of a rib eater, but I think RGR is right that she stated not the meatiest, but still very good.

                                    I only had a taste of the corn muffin. I felt I already indulged way too much, and I am trying to loose my "muffin top" after this pregnancy! :)

                                    Anyhow, the place is a winner! I was there at 5 pm and could not get over the amount of take-out at that time! I wish them much success and so nice to see a new place instead of another boring and old Italian -American place opening up!

                                    1. re: Angelina


                                      Thanks for the report! I'm thrilled that you loved everything you took home from Pom Pom. It's a great sign when take-out is as delicious as eat-in. Looks as though people are discovering it since you say they were doing a boatload of take-out.

                                      I presum you got the rotisserie chicken? I'm aiming for the fried chicken next time. And the sweet potato fries.


                      2. Visited Pom Pom for a late lunch yesterday, can't say much more the already excellent reviews. I had the pulled pork sandwich, tasted great w/a vinegary sauce & lotsa meat on the bun! My wife had the 1/4 rotisserie chicken (dark) which she thought was a little dry. We shared a few ribs which were excellent. The Chocolate chip and the peanut butter cookies would have made the trip worth it on their own merit! Sides (mac & chz, spinach, and roasted potatoes) were all very good.

                        One thing to note: there are items on the printed menu that do not appear on their menu board (i.e, the corn bread, the char-broiled chicken, and the skirt steak). Take your time and study well!