Monday, July 26, 2010

Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue

HOUSTON: Pizzitola’s Bar-B-Cue
1703 Shepherd Drive
Houston, TX 77007
Open M-Sat 11-8

Seventy years after they opened, the only open pit resides right here at Pizzitola's, and due to current code requirements in Houston, there won't be another one anytime soon. The owners are more than happy to show it off, but beware, you'll be in some tight quarters. You see the kitchen is grossly undersized for this operation, but they can't expand because that would take a permit, and then they'd need to give up that pit. That pit is what gives the meat here that distinctive flavor along with the hickory wood. Although they use direct heat, there's still plenty of smoky flavor because they smoke with wood rather than using just coals like their open pit brethren at Cooper's and Hard 8.

I got a nice tour of the kitchen, with pitmaster Jose looking on annoyed as we crowded him and his brisket. After the intoxicating aromas emanating from the pit, I couldn't wait to get a few bites of my smoked meat snack. Back in the car, my wife was happy that I brought some of their authentic banana pudding for her to snack on. The chunks of real bananas, whipped cream and Nilla wafers made for an excellent accompaniment to the meat.

The meat wasn't too shabby either. Pork ribs had a generous salt and black pepper rub. The finely ground pepper made it's way into every smoky bite. The meat came easily from the bone, but it was a bit dry. The brisket could have been more moist as well (maybe from the direct heat). Despite that minor flaw, this was solid eating brisket. A generous smokering laid beneath a crispy black crust which was brittle to the tooth. A hefty bit of smoke flavor found its way deep into the meat which was tender with a nice line of fat still clinging to each delicious, peppery slice. The slight dryness was the only flaw, and it may have been due to my visit being in the late afternoon. Another trip at the lunch rush may push this joint to another star, and I'll be sure to try their special recipe sausage on the next trip.

Rating ****
Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue on Urbanspoon


Chris Wilkins said...

Daniel: Am I just imagining this, or is Houston kicking our DFW butts when it comes to places to get good BBQ?

BBQ Snob said...

You are not imagining things.

Anonymous said...

Sad thing is, you didn't even get any of the fantastic roadside/mobile Q around Houston. From your reviews, it sounds like you only hit the brick and mortar places.

Not criticizing. There are only so many hours in the day.

But yeah. Houston Q is stellar. It almost makes up for living in a malarial swamp.

Bob B said...

Tried the meat sampler last Monday, Presidents day. Beef tender but no flavor, ribs ok, not great and sausage was spicey with tough skin. Not worth $18.00.


Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.