Barbecue buffs on Long Island have long been salivating for the East Meadow opening of RUB, which stands for "Righteous Urban Barbecue." The suburban spinoff of a Manhattan standby brings with it a reputation for authenticity and two pitmasters, Santiago Vargas and Darrell Thompson, who spent two months in the city training at the mother smoker.
But barbecue, by definition, can fluctuate. It's a highly variable cooking method, dependent upon the individual piece of meat and the time spent in the fire. What's dry one day can be moist the next.
A wondrous creation is "burnt endz" -- gloriously fatty smoke-infused brisket bits, to be ordered by weight or as a platter. Until they run out, that is. Those "endz" are incorporated into the richly smoky BBQ chili, which goes well with the moist, slightly sweet cornbread. Meaty jumbo BBQ chicken wings can make you forget every Buffalo wing you've met.
I'm not usually a fan of saucy ribs, but the 12-hour St. Louis ribs (smoked for six hours, and then another six in an apricot-mustard BBQ sauce) are just delectable. I request brisket that's a little fatty and am rewarded with juicy, smoky meat. Fine pulled pork, too.
The beefy, smoky, loose-textured burger has star power -- although on a subsequent visit, it is overly salty. I'm sold on the namesake version topped with chipotle aioli, American cheese, sauteed onions and pickles. Hand-cut seasoned fries are addictive, even if they get cold.
Other worthy sides (two of which come with every main dish): smoky-sweet baked beans, mayo-based coleslaw and stewed greens.
Dry-rubbed baby back ribs, properly pink throughout, are not supposed to fall off the bone, and these don't. But they're also tight-textured, dry. Smoked turkey has little juice, too. Excessive saltiness undermines the ham-like house-smoked pastrami. BBQ chicken, while good, doesn't taste of the smoker. Vinegar-based coleslaw is too sweet. So, too, a dessert of strawberry cobbler. And fried Oreos are just plain greasy.
Two drinks -- house-made lemonade and a raspberry "razzle dazzle" cocktail -- are watery and must be remade.
Much promise and potential.