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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!)

          Tapas..no 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 pompombbqgrill.com

            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 one...it'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 cookie...it 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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...


                      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!

                        1. OK, so last weekend I did take out, and during the week I made the trek over from my office. I got the pulled pork sandwich and it was great. They had a vinegar base and then seemed to put a little bit of the rib sauce (ketchup based "bbq" sauce) on top. The fries (which had been soggy when we got them home when doing takeout) were hot, crisp and delicious. I would definitely recommend the pulled pork, even though it doesn't get the same prominent treatment as ribs and chicken...I am going to tell them they need a pulled pork combo plate the next time I go in (which will be soon). Do yourself a favor and get thee to Pom Pom!

                          1. After devouring the rotisserie chicken last time we were here, came back for the barbeque. Can't decide which was better, pulled pork or the ribs.
                            The pork was tender, juicy and flavorful. The sauce was light allowing the flavor to come roaring through. For me it was a combo of tangy Carolina with some Southwest red mixed in. Whatever, it was delicious.
                            Ordered 3 ribs, received 4 meaty bones, perfectly tender and full of flavor. The real deal in bbq in Millstone NJ. Who would have thunk it :)
                            Also ordered 1/4 rotisserie chicken with candied yams and slaw to calm that urge.
                            We left stuffed for $20.00.
                            Next time I'll try the soup, beef barley and chicken orzo looked very good.

                            Pom Pom was doing a brisk take out business this afternoon and the tables were mostly filled.
                            If your looking for some tasty bbq ribs, pork, chicken etc, head over to Pom Pom and enjoy!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: tom246

                              after all the terrific reviews just had to go. figured today would be light since not everyone is off for the holiday. I also do my own smoking, so it had been awhile since I had some good 'que. I had the pulled pork sandwich lunch special (including a small dish of cole slaw - for the sandwich - natch, drink and fries) and my wife had the 6 ribs lunch - she chose green beans and creamed spinach. needless to say, the pig was excellent, but the vegetables were also out of sight. Got to talking with a couple of the owners - very nice folks - and they had us try the collard greens. Never had them before, but also fantastic - with a nice little kick.

                              Left stuffed with smiles on our faces for $20. We may have to make this a weekly trip :-))

                            2. Today while on business in the area and after reading all the reviews about
                              Pom Pom BBQ I was able to get over there today and try it out for lunch.
                              It’s located on Rt33w about a half mile before Luchento’s Italian Restaurant in Millstone NJ.
                              My first impressions were that of a Fast-food, Boston Marketesque, Greek Diner (of which they own one in NYC also I was told), BBQ joint. A nice large space very clean and decorated in nice colors schemes.
                              As I approached the main counter to place my order I was warmly greeted by a pretty young lady with a lovely British accent. After looking at the specials on the above menus, and all the items under the glass showcase, I decided to try the Pulled Pork Lunch w/ FF & an Ice Tea out of the machine which disappointed me I was hoping for some homemade southern “SWEET TEA” since this was a BBQ place L….I also asked for a side order of Collard Greens & 4 Baby Back Ribs to try . She said she would call me when it was ready…..15 minutes later I got the call….and picked up my order, I asked if they had any Hot Sauce and they gave me a small side cup of Tabasco.
                              OK now for the nitty gritty….. The Pulled Pork was on a boring Kaiser roll with no character at all, I took my first bite and although a bit dry at first I asked for some extra BBQ sauce which is Tomato based and quite flavorful to combat the dryness and all was good from there on. The French fries were nice and crisp as they should be. The Collard greens were a bit salty, super smoky in taste and quite good full of flavor. I saved the baby Back Ribs for last not to mess up my fingers before hand and I was pleasantly surprised on how good they were. smokey, very meaty and a nice char on top gave way for some very good ribs which played well with their BBQ Sauce. They big downfall of my whole lunch was the Cold Slaw….. it was just like the terrible ones you would get in any Diner, no flavor, chopped up cabbage bits with watery mayonnaise. That was a disappointment as any serious BBQ Place and I’ve been to many all over the country, really takes pride in their Home Made Cold Slaw especially when you want to put it on your Pulled Pork Sandwich, they really need to make some changes and work on their sides. Anyway all in all it was a pleasant lunch experience at Pom Pom BBQ….if I return I’d like to try their Fried chicken also.


                              7 Replies
                              1. re: Tapas52

                                It's actually called "Cole Slaw".. even though it is typically served cold. :)

                                1. re: MarlboroMan

                                  Marlboro man...lol... sorry I stand corrected ! :-) either way they need to improve it drastically imo.

                                  1. re: Tapas52

                                    Is it just me or is that girl in the first pic serving pressed ham?

                                    1. re: irishk

                                      LOL - everyone gets a little behind in their work once in a while....

                                      1. re: nick28

                                        Nick, stop being so silly. The day's special was rump roast!

                                        1. re: jethro

                                          I hope that's the end of it....

                                  1. re: RGR

                                    I didn't see any smokers at Pom Pom BBq when I was there.....only thing were a row of convection ovens, is that how they are cooking their BBQ?....
                                    In my last few journeys for BBQ in Ocean/Monmouth Co these are my ratings..

                                    1- Jersey Shore BBQ Belmar

                                    2- Extreme BBq Waretown (now closed?)

                                    3- Brasas Portugese BBQ Toms River

                                    4- Pom Pom BBQ Millstone

                                    5- Famous Dave's BBQ Bricktown

                                    6- Hickory Hog Pt Pleasant

                                    1. re: Tapas52

                                      Smoker is in the back. Unlike chains like Famous Dave's, it's a real smoker, not a pressure smoker. He uses nothing but Hickory.

                                      1. re: eapter

                                        Thanks for the info.....I go by taste...in the end thats all that really matters for me.

                                    2. re: RGR

                                      Roast House BBQ on Rt. 9 in Manalapan has brisket, and it's really good - I've had it. There's a thread on here about it. Tapas52, you should try it. I found it WAY better than Jersey Shore BBQ - and I've had brisket from both places.

                                      Jersey Shore BBQ
                                      811 Belmar Plaza, Belmar, NJ 07719

                                      1. re: MarlboroMan

                                        MarlboroMan its the next BBq joint on my list when I get up in that area I'll give it a shot. Thanks for the info..


                                  2. Time for me to weigh in on the food here.

                                    I really liked the ribs and pulled pork. I am of the mind that real que does not need sauce and theirs is real and good. But I don't like their sauce at all - too sweet and not balanced enough for my taste. But when I brought it home and added some Rendezvous Hot BBQ sauce, it was really good.
                                    Also, the fried chicken is just decent, not that great. A much better choice is the rotisserie chicken.
                                    I love having real bbq near me, so I hope they succeed, but I wish I could get them to redo their sauce.

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: seal

                                      That raises a very interesting point. While there is SOME regional style variation in BBQ preparation, it's MOSTLY based on what animal to smoke. (Yes, the rub [and mop, if used] are often different but the differences are more subtle than the differences, discussed below, in sauce styles.) The largest disparity is in sauce type. So then, are personal preferences mostly split on the sauce, rather than a discussion of the "style" of preparation.

                                      While I'll judge Q sauceless, I'll almost never eat it that way, unless, like Memphis dry ribs, there's no sauce to the style (in that particular case there's a unique rub in its place.) Some people focus on sauce and meat separately (like seal did, above) while others treat BBQ as an inseperable whole. (For example, I suspect, looking at some of Tapas52's other posts on the boards, that Tapas52 is more sauce-centered than I.)

                                      With that said, in my original review (or perhaps in the follow-up) I compared the sauce to Willingham's mild. Now Willingham may have won Memphis in May more times in a row than anyone else, but his mild sauce is just that: a Memphis Mild sauce. It's extremely well done, but can be boring if you like things like Memphis Hot or Southwest Hot; it's not sweet enough if you like Kansas City Red, which uses white sugar instead of molassas as in Memphis, or dark brown sugar as in Texas. It doesn't have the vinegar kick of Eastern North Carolina, nor the dark undertones of cumin or corriander like a Southwestern sauce. It doesn't have the surprise of South Carolina mustard sauce (if you've never tried it, the version at Famous Dave's is a good start [no matter what else you say about Famous Dave's, their sauces are well designed as regional examples]), or a Georgia mayonnaise-based sauce.

                                      I am not disappointed with Pom-Pom's sauce; I am a LITTLE disappointed that they don't offer at least a couple of alternatives to it. With the pitmaster's background, it wouldn't be hard to offer a NC vinegar and a Memphis Hot as alternatives. Offering only ONE sauce seems to be the flaw, rather than specifically what that one sauce is.

                                      1. re: eapter

                                        Never saw a white sauce in Georgia. I thought that was an Alabama creation...

                                        1. re: equal_Mark

                                          You're absolutely right - it's native to Alabama - I still think of it as a GA sauce since the first place I ever had it was in a place outside Donaldsonville in extreme Southwest GA.

                                        2. re: eapter

                                          We went to POM POM today for an early dinner. We were incredibly disappointed in everything about the place, based on the rave reviews from most people in this thread. I should add the the place was full (it seats perhaps 18) and everyone was eating burgers, fries, and the fried chicken. One take out order of 6 ribs was taken while we were there.

                                          The ribs had no smoke taste, odor or ring. There was no bark. There was no rub. There was, however, a solid quarter inch of fat along the top side, which had not seen any heat (even a nice low 195); its texture was almost raw. Though I did not speak to the man I assumed was the pitmaster, to use the term loosely, I did speak to the owner, who said they used hickory. One of the staff said they smoked the ribs from their arrival (7am) on. I have a great deal of trouble believing this. The sticky red sauce smeared on the ribs had not been cooked at all. These appeared to me to be baked ribs with a couple minutes on a grill at the end. They were not even fully hot.

                                          The rotisserie chicken is not actually rotisserie. There is, you'll see, a double wide ferris wheel; one raw chicken is placed in every basket on the left, while the chickens on the right side of each basket are done, awaiting an order. They appeared to be careful not to mix them up or touch the raw chicken to the cooked. However, besides the possibility of health department issues, these chickens do not themselves rotate. They stay in one position as their shelf moves around the central core, again, like a simple ferris wheel. Ours was not juicy or spiced in any noticeable or tasty way.
                                          We didn't try any sides. They looked mainly like they needed replenishment, from a freshness standpoint, not a quantity one.
                                          I don't mean to be a naysayer here - I am willing to hope this was just a bad time of day to go, or that they'd pulled the ribs out of a 2nd smoke batch WELL before they should have. But if you want reliably smoked ribs, I'd have to recommend against Pom Pom.

                                          1. re: elf.elf.baby

                                            I went a couple of weeks ago for lunch and I had a very pleasant experience. I tried the ribs and the pulled pork with cole slaw and beans. The ribs were very good, tender and flavorful with smoke ring and subtle smoke flavor. The pulled pork was pretty good sampled directly but even better as a sandwich - the sauce and bread really worked well with the pork. Not dry at all. The slaw and beans were fine - pretty barbecue-standard but that's the way I like them. A good meal, although I do wish they offered brisket.

                                            1. re: elf.elf.baby

                                              Went back again to get the ribs again. Definitely a great smoke ring and really nice bark. Maybe elf.elf.baby was there on the wrong day. I was up in Rochester a week back at Dinosaur BBQ, and while I really liked their brisket and their pulled pork, Pom Pom had better, bigger ribs. Also, the sides I had (greens and slaw) were on the money. Slaw nothing earth shattering, but the greens were delicious. and of course, there are the peanut butter cookies to take with you on the way out. A few points...1) their combos are messed up. You can get ribs with two sides, but the pulled pork is with fries (and the woman at the register didn't seem interested in accommodating me). 2) I'd love to see some squeeze bottles of sauce around for some variety if you want it. 3) Just go buy some brisket and smoke it...how hard is that? Other than that, the place is solid. The ribs and pulled pork are great (have had each a few times). I had chicken once and it was really good, but I'm here for the pig. Enjoy.

                                              1. re: sleevesmcd

                                                I had the fried chicken last week. It was good but l liked the ribs better. There is nothing wrong with the chicken, it is light breaded and juicy but if i go back the next time i would try the pull pork or have the ribs again. Just a personal preference.

                                                I had coleslaw and cream spinach as sides. Both were good.

                                                By the way, the fried chicken lunch special combo i had was 3 pieces with 2 sides plus a corn bread and a drink. It was only $6.99. It was an great deal and I was totally stuffed.

                                                1. re: yCf

                                                  FINALLY dragged the family to Pom Pom tonight after walking around Freehold Mall for a few hours. We had the pulled pork sandwich with fries. Pulled pork was excellent, my wife kept saying "oh, my God". She did give me a 1/4 of it however. We also had 3 ribs (gave us 4), mac & cheese (you chowhounds weren't kidding!), potatoes w/ gravy, and the slaw & corn bread which they give you. Can't say we tried anything that we didn't devour & make grunting noises eating. This is a definite destination for us. The staff working tonight were also very friendly, even as my 2 year old played bowling with the salt & pepper shakers. Definite restaurant to support; good food, good prices, good people. My wife even loved the cole slaw, which she usually never eats.

                                                  1. re: jethro

                                                    Just want to mentioned that I think the prices went up $1 on everything. They were putting up new menu with new prices as I as walking through the door last Wednesday. They still charged me the price when they ring me up.

                                                    Anyway, this place is still a great bargain with the $1 increase.

                                                    1. re: yCf

                                                      went back a couple of weeks ago with our son, DIL and granddaughter for another enjoyable meal. on the way out, mentioned that both my son and I are smokers and wanted to compliment the pitmaster. he invited us into the kitchen to check out the smoker. It's a gas smoker, not "outside" as previously reported (not that there's anything wrong with that). I asked about brisket and the pitmaster said they were thinking about it. they do in the NYC Pom Pom, so why not (I'm thinking). Besides, I can make ribs and pulled pork at home (the brisket just takes too darn long - don't see me sleeping next to the smoker overnight to regulate the temp every couple of hours).

                                                      BTW, I asked for a substitute for the fries on the pulled pork sandwich and was offered mashed potatoes or sweet potato fries (which were very good). Lesson learned (as per previous poster) - if you don't see it - just ask - they'll probably accommodate you...

                                        3. Finally had the opportunity to stop for lunch when I accidentally stumbled upon it on route 33 on my way back from the range.
                                          I ordered the pulled pork sandwich lunch special and was pleasantly surprised at the size of not only the sandwich but the amount of fresh, hot fries it came with.The pork was indeed succulent and smokey through the BBQ sauce which I thought to be a little too sweet, but I tend to like more vinegary sauces. A excellent value and I can't wait the try the rest of the menu. Thank for the heads up Folks.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Duppie

                                            Happy exploring Duppie, I stopped in Tuesday evening and had 1/2 rotisserie chicken, side of smoky collard greens, cornbread and a coke for less than 10 bucks. Delicious juicy chicken, yummy greens, tasty cornbread and a bargain to boot.

                                            1. re: Duppie

                                              Glad you enjoyed it. The sauce is probably a little too Memphis for you, as it is for me; the pitmaster's background is in the triangle, not the east coast where vinegar is the real base.

                                              This time of year, I do my own Q at least once a weekend (as opposed to the dead of winter when I only do it once a month) but I still stop by Pom Pom for sides - my greens and my yams can't hold a candle to theirs

                                            2. I have not yet had the chance to sample, or enjoy the food here at this local favorite, so my commnets are not meant as a ctitical review, but rather a consideration on making plans if you decide to go here in terms of food choices.

                                              Last week on Thursday I was in the Millstone area to play golf, and on my return home, I had planned to stop by Pom Pom for dinner or take-out......I ended up arriving there @ 8:00 PM. Looking at the food available in the cases.......let's just say the food did not look the same as in the pictures. Nothing looked enticing enough for me to place an order.....chicken, ribs or sides. I will stop by another time at an earlier hour.....btw, The manager seemed likea a pleasant guy and was helpful explaing the menu.

                                              13 Replies
                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                I went to Pom Pom last week with my wife and daughter, but now I forget which day.. Wednesday, I think. Anyway, it was for lunch. My wife, a picky eater, LOVED the place, said the trip was worth it (I had to get a car registration renewed, so it was about 15 minutes from Freehold).

                                                We had fried chicken (excellent), creamed spinach (excellent). I ordered 3 ribs, but received 4. Good, but I forget to ask for no sauce.. a sweet sauce was slathered on.

                                                Only thing I didn't like was the collard greens.. they were SWEET.. the manager (guy with a mustache) asked how everything was.. I said everything was great, but what's up with the collard greens. His reply was something like "Oh, they're bitter, so we put sugar in them."

                                                I've NEVER had "sweet collards" anywhere else. Yack! Anyway, left a huge pile of uneaten collards on my plate. Anyone else ever hear of collard greens with sugar in them? We'll probably go back for the fried chicken (which was moist, but not greasy), and definitely the creamed spinach again. Didn't try the desserts, but they looked delicious.

                                                1. re: MarlboroMan

                                                  Having a day off from work during the week recently, I went here for lunch again. Pulled pork lunch special, with fries, slaw, a drink, and a fruit cup is all only $7.99. I think it was $8.55 with tax. Still recommend this place to people, I really enjoyed the lunch, although it is a lot of food if you have to go to work afterwards. I went home and took a nap! They seemed to have a steady flow of customers and a lot of orders were being delivered. Good for them!

                                                  1. re: jethro

                                                    had the same lunch special on the same exact day. I subbed the fries with a cream spinach. Agree with the amount of food. Totally stuffed..

                                                    1. re: yCf

                                                      hadn't been for a while and went for lunch with the missus. we both had the rib lunch special - 1/2 slab with 2 sides. after the first bite - we looked at each other and decided they were the best ribs we ever had. The chef came out - seemed to be a different guy than last time - could be new. Collard greens are the best. I like the sweet potatoes, Lynn likes the creamed spinach - they're all great. and enough for dinner the next night too.

                                                      1. re: nick28

                                                        Just said to the Mrs. that we are overdue for a visit. Maybe this weekend.

                                                        1. re: jsfein

                                                          now, THAT's a plan! see if you can confirm that they have a new chef...

                                                          BTW, he apologized that meat fell off the bones (I KNOW this is supposed not to be a good indicator of quality, but I like it)

                                                          1. re: nick28

                                                            Are the collard greens still sweet? The one time I ate there, I thought they were disgusting. I asked about them, they confirmed they put sugar in them. (This is actually noted in my July 4th post above).

                                                            1. re: MarlboroMan

                                                              didn't detect sweet - there is a little bit of heat....

                                                            2. re: nick28

                                                              I'd have to respect a BBQ guy who apologized that meat fell off the bones. This is a serious indication of overcooked BBQ. Good BBQ should require a bit of a tug on the bone. If you lift the bone and leave a pile of meat on the plate, well...

                                                              1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                however, they WERE still moist (as well as very tasty) ....

                                                          2. re: nick28

                                                            I hate writing this kind of followup review... it's so hard to be fair, yet I need to let those who read my original post know what has changed...

                                                            There is no pit-master anymore. Tommy (one of the two owners - the "back of the house" guy) confirmed that they couldn't afford him with the way business has been. Tommy has taken over all the cooking, and is the first to admit that he's never done BBQ before and doesn't even like BBQ. I spoke to him AFTER I took the following tasting notes:

                                                            Pulled Pork - smoke has completely disappeared. This is Sunday-at-the-Church roast shoulder - very, very moist; very, very good meat; no BBQ spice, no smoke.

                                                            Sauce - more vinegar (it needed it) and less sugar (it needed it) but still only one sauce available, and instead of the old Memphis sauce, this is a generic BBQ sauce that doesn't speak to a region, a point of view, or a statement. It's a "offend nobody" sauce and although I'm not a fan of Memphis sauces, I prefer that to what's now offered.

                                                            Ribs - incredibly good meat - possibly the best St.L rack I've seen north of Lexington (it comes from a specialty butcher on Long Island) but again, no smoke, no spice, no point-of-view. Beautifully cooked but not smoked. Juicy and just the right degree of "not-quite-fall-off-the-bone" to make the texture right, but done with no passion, no layers of flavor - just pork and sauce.

                                                            Sides: The Collard Greens are less sugary (thank goodness) but still a bit sweet for my taste. Less over-cooked than they used to be. The mac and cheese has a brand-new cheese mixture and a bit more salt (the original was great but needed more salt) but has a very safe, not-quite-browned crust to it. No BBQ spices in the mac and cheese anymore, but very nicely done as a non-BBQ side.

                                                            Tommy is a very, very good cook. He knows what makes a dish work and what doesn't - what he lacks is any understanding of traditional BBQ, any passion for the genre, and any notion that great BBQ is partially a result of excesses. That runs so contrary to his style as to make this a "has-been" for BBQ devotees. With that said, the chicken (which was his all along) is still the great staple of the menu - Grilled or fried or off the spit, those are his recipes and while they're not BBQ, they're wonderful. Even the "BBQ" is probably more approachable for the suburban audience, and I really hope that tasting this stuff inspires people to search out real "Q", which, sadly, Pom Pom no longer serves.

                                                            Once upon a time, Chowhound was a board devoted to inspired and passionate cooking, where flaws in technique could be forgiven for the sheer enthusiasam and devotion one brought to the dish. That may be of no relevance in today's market, but I count myself as lucky to have heard Jim Leff say of a very popular place "Yes, but the guy who makes the food is a cook.." - it may be very mainstream, but it's not Chowhound.

                                                            1. re: eapter

                                                              Eapter, I'm crestfallen to hear this news, all the more so because I missed this thread when it first appeared. If I'd seen it (or known you were posting here again.....for those who don't know, Eapter was one of the first five or so posters to Chowhound back in 1997), I'd have dropped everything to check it out.

                                                              There's never been much appreciation for passionate cooking, or passionate anything else. Things like "passion" and "love" and "soul" are awfully squishy, and human beings are like beavers - we create complexity out of simple concrete rules (like a beaver arranging twigs to create a dam). Anything that can't be nailed down concretely and fully categorized is misunderstood, overlooked, and/or unloved by all but a clear-eyed (though presumably unhinged) few.

                                                              I'm sorry Pom Pom's "few" wasn't enough. I'm always sorry when the few aren't enough.

                                                              All truly great things in the world are made possible by the support of a precarious few. That's always been one of the biggest catalysts of my impulse to seek out, discover, support, and evangelize beneath-radar deliciousness (and to encourage and enable others to do likewise).

                                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                Funny, whenever we drop by, they have a good crowd, both eating in and taking out. We like their food a lot, but this news might make us sad when we go again, assuming the food isn't what it was. We are going next week, so I will let you know how it was.

                                                  2. Has this place closed now, too? I drove by yesterday and today and there are no lights on, either day. There seems to be a sign on the door, but I did not drive in the shopping center. I just called, but the phone just keeps ringing.

                                                    Very unfortunate if this is true.

                                                    22 Replies
                                                    1. re: Angelina

                                                      Hmm, this would mark the closure of 2 out of the 3 places covered in the 2011 BBQ Crawl, whose thread seems to have been deleted from here.

                                                      1. re: Angelina

                                                        Will stop by on my way back from fencing tomorrow morning and see what the story is. Despite the fact that I no longer enjoyed the BBQ since the change-over, the chicken was wonderful, and will be missed.

                                                        1. re: Angelina

                                                          Yup - it's official. Pom-Pom is gone. There are two signs in the window saying "Temporarily Closed For Renovations - Check Back Soon!!"

                                                          Unfortunately, there's also a letter from a lawyer posted in the window that says "On this date the landlord found the premises to be abandoned, along with the hazardous condition of an open natural gas valve.... PLEASE TAKE NOTE that the lease with your company has been terminiated EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY and you are not to enter into or upon the premises....."

                                                          I went next door and spoke with the guy who bought out Jerry and Geri's old liquor store, and he tells me that this had been brewing a while and nobody was surprised.

                                                          Again, for the sake of the chicken, a real shame. On the other hand, I wonder if they're going to put the commercial smoker up for bankruptcy auction......

                                                          1. re: eapter

                                                            Well, this stinks. I was going to bring the whole fam damily here this weekend for our fix. I guess this is a good time to try Local Smoke, a little out of the way, but what's a foodie to do? It didn't sound good when someone posted that they got rid of the cook/smoker (i.e. the one that knows what he/she is doing).

                                                            1. re: eapter

                                                              Thanks for posting eapter. I drove by yesterday and saw the same sad signs! :(

                                                              Such a shame, not only this place but this whole economy. I see 2 new pizza places are about to open in Manalapan on Rt 9 South. I really wish them luck. I give eveyone credit who opens their own business..the "American dream" and then for this to happen.......very sad.

                                                              1. re: Angelina

                                                                yes I noticed it looked closed passing by Memorial day, BBQ is a hard gig in the Northeast.

                                                                1. re: Tapas52

                                                                  I'm not sure I agree with you about the Northeast being the problem. Many bbq places have opened and thrived. Big Ed's may be far from the best around, but it's been open for years. Dinosaur opened in Syracuse, NY (!!) and now has satellites in NYC and NJ. And this weekend, the 10th Annual Big Apple BBQ is taking place and, as always, it's jam packed. So, I think Pom Pom and Mo' Greens didn't survive because they lacked enough *local* support. Maybe they would have done better if they had opened as full-service restaurants. But we'll never know.


                                                                  1. re: RGR

                                                                    Maybe they would have done better if they had opened as full-service restaurants.

                                                                    This is my observation with many BYOBs in general.....they charge like they are full service restaurants, but the value is not there for diners seeking convenience or for those who do not drink wine or beer.

                                                                    1. re: fourunder

                                                                      Are you saying that because they do not sell alcohol that BYOB establishments should charge less for their food?

                                                                      1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                        They should charge less for their food. They do not have the overhead of inventory, insurance or labor to justify charging the same prices, or more than, full service restaurants....plus they do not have have to make up and pay for a liquor license in general, which can be anywhere from 10 Grand to One Million+.

                                                                        I'm not saying a business cannot charge whatever they deem necessary to pay their bills and make a profit. What I am saying is...is the diner has a choice, there are some that will opt for full service, and or, the convenience of an adult beverage without having to make a stop......and the meals are often priced lower than at BYOBs. Like Buffet Restaurants, many BYOBs lose out on the sale of a beverage.....It makes far more sense to me if they charge more for food, e.g. $20 for a rack of ribs at a full service....or $23 for a full rack at a BYOB.....for the latter to consider and include free soft beverages to justify the higher price...thus providing value.

                                                                        1. re: fourunder

                                                                          This overlooks the profit margins returned on the sale of those items. A good return on the price of food sold is around 40%, whereas the profits returned by the sale of alcohol can be 200% to 400%. There is a reason establishments are willing to shell out the high cost of a liquor license.

                                                                          1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                            Sometimes it not just about profits per item that make a restaurant profitable.....total gross sales and cash flow are more important. We could all find examples to support our positions,....but there are two prominent BYOBs in Bergen County that prefer to do business without owning a liquor license.

                                                                            Yes there are higher profit margins in liquor sales....but food sales determine whether the business will be successful or not. Most full service restaurants do 70/30 split on food to liquor.

                                                                            with that said, I do agree, I would want a liquor license if I were to open a restaurant.

                                                                              1. re: nick28

                                                                                Sure looks closed when I passed July 4th..

                                                                                1. re: nick28

                                                                                  Based on the second post in the window (from the lawyer) and from what the guys next door said (quoted above) don't expect it to re-open.....

                                                                                  1. re: eapter

                                                                                    anyone tried the new Texas Roadhouse on route 33 in Hamilton?

                                                                                    1. re: nick28

                                                                                      Last year, when we decided to escape from Hurricane Irene and went to the Pittsburgh area, we had dinner at a Texas Roadhouse near our motel in Greenburg. We didn't realize at the time that it was a chain. Not knowing anything about it, we found it to be much better than we expected. The rolls were fantastic! Ribs were pretty good, baked beans were tasty, and cole slaw was excellent.

                                                                                      You can see photos of our Texas Roadhouse meal in this set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...


                                                                                      1. re: RGR

                                                                                        The ribs look like they were boiled. Falling off the bone.

                                                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                                                          BTW, we were planning to get lunch from there yesterday, but called with a question and found out they don't open until 4PM....

                                                                                        2. re: RGR

                                                                                          BTW, what do you have for 14d and 15d for Sunday's puzzle?

                                                                                          1. re: nick28


                                                                                            The moderators frown on non-food discussion. So, contact me via my blog email.


                                                              2. I passed by today and saw a sign for "Hogback Opening Soon". Sounds like BBQ to me, hopefully as good as Pom Pom, but with smarter owners.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: jethro

                                                                  Oh boy, I hope so. Summer is almost here and while I'm happy to EAT bbq seven days a week in the summer, I'm only willing to smoke my own two or three times a week...
                                                                  Thanks for the update. I'll stop by the liquor store today to see if they know anything; they knew well in advance when Pom-Pom was going under...

                                                                  1. re: eapter

                                                                    I'm a smoker too -if you want to compare notes, recipes, etc. drop me a line (nscalera28@optonline.net).


                                                                  2. re: jethro

                                                                    Nope. False alarm. Spoke to neighbors, and they say it's a sandwich/burger/etc/etc place. They've got another one down in Bordentown, here's a link to the menu: http://www.hogbackdeli.com/hogbackmen...
                                                                    Except for a pork sandwich and some various grilled chicken sandwiches, it looks like your run-of-the-mill deli.

                                                                    Oh well. Should have known when I saw the sign said "Hogsback Deli and Grill"