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At Tennessee Jed's in Wantagh, Kevin Schneider serves (Credit: Newsday/Ari Mintz)

At Tennessee Jed's in Wantagh, Kevin Schneider serves barbeque to the Cooney family -- 4-year old Camryn, mother Allison, 10-year old Paul, Jr., 7-year old Meagan, and father Paul, whose hand is on the cornbread. (2008)

Going hog wild for LI ribs

Give us ribs. Meaty, smoky, tender pork ribs. Make them with a dry rub or slather them with secret sauce. Then throw down some extra napkins and go away. It's not a pretty sight to see us drenched in BBQ drippings. But we don't care. We love the kind of magic that happens when meat meets wood smoke. "It's all about the balance of the seasoning, the tenderness of a good piece of properly smoked meat," said Al Horowitz, owner of two Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joints, in Bay Shore and Massapequa Park. But all pigs are not created equal, Horowitz said. Fat content can vary from one rack to the next. So, to keep those ribs reliable, Horowitz has racks checked for tenderness and moistness by gloved crew members, who open and touch them straight out of the smoker. Who needs knives and forks? "People just like to eat with their hands," said Dan Monteforte, pitmaster at Swingbellys Beachside BBQ in Long Beach. "There's something soulful about that." Here are some favorite places to hunker down with a rack:

At Tennessee Jed's in Wantagh, Kevin Schneider serves
(Credit: Newsday/Ari Mintz)

At Tennessee Jed's in Wantagh, Kevin Schneider serves barbeque to the Cooney family -- 4-year old Camryn, mother Allison, 10-year old Paul, Jr., 7-year old Meagan, and father Paul, whose hand is on the cornbread. (2008)

At Mara's Homemade in Syosset, ribs star on
(Credit: Newsday/Elysia Smith)

At Mara's Homemade in Syosset, ribs star on the menu, smoked daily in the restaurant's smoker. Here, a close-up of baby back ribs. (Oct. 25, 2011)

At Mara's Homemade in Syosset, ribs star on
(Credit: Newsday/Elysia Smith)

At Mara's Homemade in Syosset, ribs star on the menu, smoked daily in the restaurant's smoker. Here, Josh Levi tends the smoker. (Oct. 25, 2011)

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At Mara's Homemade in Syosset, ribs star on
(Credit: Newsday/Elysia Smith)

At Mara's Homemade in Syosset, ribs star on the menu, smoked daily in the restaurant's smoker. Here, baby back ribs, right out of the smoker. (Oct. 25, 2011)

At Mara's Homemade in Syosset, ribs star on
(Credit: Newsday/Elysia Smith)

At Mara's Homemade in Syosset, ribs star on the menu, smoked daily in the restaurant's smoker. Here, a platter of baby back ribs served with baked beans, a wedge of cornbread and cole slaw. (Oct. 25, 2011)

Patrons dine at Swingbelly's in Long Beach, NY.
(Credit: Photo by Jennifer S. Altman)

Patrons dine at Swingbelly's in Long Beach, NY. (5/28/2009)

Allison, Ryan, Brianna and Peter Callahan eati at
(Credit: Donna Alberico, 2009)

Allison, Ryan, Brianna and Peter Callahan eati at Smokin' Al's, a barbecue restaurant on Merrick Road in Massapequa Park.

Smokin' Al Horowitz at his Massapequa Park restaurant
(Credit: Photo by Joel Cairo)

Smokin' Al Horowitz at his Massapequa Park restaurant

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Patrons dine at Townline BBQ in Sagaponack.
(Credit: Photo by Gordon M. Grant)

Patrons dine at Townline BBQ in Sagaponack.

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