Thursday, September 1, 2011

The DeMarias and DiMarias of Waco

On visits separated by a few months, I visited both Jasper's and Tony DeMaria's BBQ in Waco. I made a misinformed comment about the origin of Tony DeMaria's and I recently received a note from Mr. DeMaria himself clearing up the confusion. Here is his detailed account for the history of Jasper's and Tony DeMaria's:

"Firstly, I noticed on the Jasper's review that you mistakenly wrote that Jasper's son opened Tony's down the street. This is a common misconception due to the fact that most of us Italians are inherently named Tony. The Original "Jasper" that opened Jasper's in 1919, named Jasper DiMaria later gave the restaurant to his son Tony DiMaria, who also went by the name Jasper. The biggest mistake often made is the fact that the younger "Jasper" had a 2nd cousin named Tony DeMaria Jr. when the family came to America through Galveston Harbor, the names were spoken and written in the way the immigration officer saw fit. Thus the slight differentiation in last names.

"Tony DeMaria Sr. had a grocery store and meat market at the time Jasper Sr. ran the BBQ joint. They were directly across the street from each other until the 30's when Tony Sr. moved to the building next door to the grocery store where it would remain until 1995. Both Tony Sr. and Tony Jr. were drafted for WWII at the same time so the store had to close for a while. Tony Jr. resumed business in 1946 as a meat and grocery market.

"Over time, Tony Jr. began cooking and serving sandwiches on the side. Eventually customers insisted on having a place to sit so Jr. moved a row of groceries out and put in a picnic table. After a fews years had passed, all of the groceries were practically gone and there were several tables taking there place. This is how Tony DeMaria's BBQ really found its place.

"Tony Jr. ran the restaurant for 40 years until his youngest son, Geoff, took over. Geoff, my uncle, is still the owner of the establishment and in his early years of ownership completely ended the grocery market to become a full fledged bbq restaurant. In 1995, Geoff built the metal building and brought the business to its current resting place 4 blocks down Elm Street from the original two locations."

I appreciated Tony not taking offense to my lack of fact checking and my less than complimentary assessment of his brisket. I need to get down there to give it another shot and get some of those ribs.

- BBQ Snob

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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.