Barbecue comes in many styles - Georgia, Kansas City, California, Texas - but it never comes from a grill.
Smokin’ Al, the owner of Smokin’ Al’s Famous BBQ Joint in Massapequa Park, said he runs into too many people who don’t know the difference between barbecuing and grilling.
“The Northeast is first learning what real barbecue is all about,” he said in the restaurant’s online bio. “What we call BBQ is not barbecue at all. Cooking food on a grill over charcoal or a gas fire is called 'Grilling.' This is not BBQ. Barbecue is cooking foods at low temperatures for long periods of time with indirect heat (SMOKE) coming from the burning of various blends of wood and the regulation of moisture.”
It’s no surprise that Smokin’ Al believes smoke is the key to good barbecue. No amount of spice and sauce can make up for 12 hours of slow-roasting and smoking meat over a bed of specially selected woodchips.
Smokin’ Al’s Famous BBQ Joint opened in 2003 and by the owner’s estimate, the restaurant has served more than two million people.
The restaurant serves all the traditional barbecued meats and sides - brisket, pulled pork, chicken, cornbread, beans, collard greens, mac n' cheese, and a variety of ribs, including mammoth beef ribs.
Menu standouts include pulled pork, baby back ribs, Garlic mash mac, beef ribs, and chopped brisket. Smokin' Al’s also provides separate and extensive vegetarian and gluten-free menus.
Yelp foodie Jenn C. of Brooklyn said he loves Smokin’ Al’s unique take on barbecue and juicy, tasty meats.
“The ribs were great and had so much flavor. We didn't need any of the extra sauce they gave us,” said Jenn C. about a recent visit to Smokin’ Al’s. “The Black Angus monster beef bones are tremendous and 1 is more than enough! This was my favorite. Baby back ribs are smaller but super tasty and juicy. St. Louis grand backs are a little bigger, if you like your ribs with a dry rub this is your way to go! Burnt ends were perfect and lay on top of a bed of haystack onions which were super crispy and yummy. I was so full I didn't get to try the brisket and smoked sausage but everyone else said it was all great. My mom loved the wings and couldn't believe how flavorful they were on the inside. She said it tasted as if it had been smoked so the meat was super juicy and didn't even need any extra sauce. Really liked their Mac n cheese and coleslaw.”
The atmosphere at Smokin’ Al’s is decidedly “joint.” No frills here. The interior is dimly lit with wooden tables, chairs, and floorboards. The walls are made of exposed brick and feature paintings of happy pigs in sunglasses drinking beer, dancing, and playing music. A roll of paper towels sits at the center of each table.
Yelp foodie Gianna C. of Franklin Square recently visited Smokin’ Al’s and said she was impressed by the perfectly smoked and seasoned foods as well as the joint’s adherence to COVID-19 best practices.
“Oh my goodness. This place was AMAZING,” Gianna C. said. “The ribs were cooked perfectly with so much flavor. The brisket was tender & so moist, the Mac and cheese perfectly cheesy & creamy. Cornbread OUTSTANDING. Loved the mashed potatoes & fries were awesome. Staff was great, food came fast & everything was COVID safe. Will definitely be returning.”
Smokin’ Al’s Famous BBQ Joint, 4847 Merrick Road, Massapequa Park, is open seven days a week Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 9 p.m. Contact the restaurant at (516) 799-4900 or smokinals.com.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.