The yearslong transition from derivatives trader to pitmaster ended this week when Manny Voumvourakis opened the rustic chic Smōk-hau̇s in Garden City. The restaurant, almost three years in the making, specializes in classic American barbecue.
Voumvourakis, former managing director at Jefferies Financial Group, started smoking meats about 10 years ago in his backyard. After 20 years trading derivatives, he said, “I realized I’ve got one life to live, and I love barbecue.” He doubled down on the backyard barbecue and started collecting cookbooks. Eventually reached out to Myron Mixon, author, barbecue champion and reality television star, and enrolled at Mixon’s four-day barbecue boot camp in Unadilla, Georgia.
He took over and gutted the low-slung building just across 12th Street from Sears, which was most recently an office but started life as a garage for Fairchild Sons Funeral Home, whose parking lot it shares. (Don’t bother making a joke about the proximity of a smokehouse to a funeral home; he’s heard them all and he’s made a few.) The building is divided into an eat-in dining room and a counter devoted to takeout. Decor is rustic chic, with reclaimed wood, exposed light bulbs, etc.
The menu features classic American barbecue (brisket, pulled pork, baby back and spare ribs) as well as a beef and lamb gyro that honors the owner’s Greek heritage, and a smoked porchetta that honors his wife’s Italian heritage. Most meats are sold by the half pound ($10 to $16); half racks of ribs are $19 to $20 and come with two sides plus Texas toast and pickles. There are also smoked wings done oreganata-, Buffalo-, Korean- and mango-habanero-style ($16 for a dozen). Especially for lunch customers is the “individual meal option” wherein meats are served, Chipotle-style, over rice or salad, in a sandwich, burrito or pita ($9.75 to $12.75).
Voumvourakis only smokes as much meat as he plans to serve that day, and that means supplies are limited. During these first few weeks, it’s advisable to call before embarking on the trip to Garden City.
Smōk-hau̇s is at 7 12th St., Garden City, 516-833-6633, smok-haus.com.