Here's an unexpected development: Some of LI's best barbecue is being smoked at a supermarket chain. The Best Market stores in West Babylon, Patchogue, East Meadow, Huntington and Lake Grove are each equipped with a Southern Pride smoker and a dedicated pitmaster, and turning out some very good beef, pork and chicken.
Jonathan Sender, Best Market's vice president of marketing, said that about a year ago, West Babylon became the 20-store chain's first Long Island location to start smoking.
"We wanted something to give the stores that 'wow' factor," he said. "Who doesn't love barbecue?"
We were indeed wowed by Best Market's brisket ($15 a pound), lush and juicy with a fine, peppery bark. Also excellent were the beef ribs ($8 a rib, not always available), bigger and much meatier than pork ribs, but, unlike the brisket, offering the pleasure of gnawing on bones. The chicken ($6.99) was tender, moist and delicately smoked. Pulled pork ($10 a pound) was above average and, while the pork spareribs ($14 a half rack) were tasty, on this occasion at least, they had been overcooked.
Of course, one of the barbecue retailer's greatest challenges is timing. "You try to learn your rush hour in each location," said director of deli and prepared foods Tony Dominioni. "Sometimes you have too much, and sometimes you run out."
All barbecue items are also available as dinners, which come with two small side dishes and range from $8 to $10. Sides include blistered corn, mashed potatoes, squash casserole, green bean casserole, sweet pork and beans, sweet potato casserole and macaroni and cheese. Plans are in the works to bring barbecue to more Best Markets.