In the corner of a strip mall off the Hempstead Turnpike south service road is a nondescript little eatery with serious barbecue chops. Smoked Barn lacks the aggressive farmhouse décor of some better capitalized operations — a lone pig statue rendered in stainless steel greets diners — but what’s on the plate can transport you way down south.
How far south? Try Peru. When pitmaster Renzo Vargas took over this spot (formerly Potters Deli) earlier this year, he called it Sanguchon Factory and it specialized in big Peruvian sandwiches (“sanguchon” in Peruvian slang) and juices. But Vargas, a barbecue veteran, gradually turned up the smoke volume on his menu and, in May, went whole hog, renaming his restaurant Smoked Barn.
The regular barbecue menu features brisket, short ribs, pork belly, pulled pork and pork ribs. They are sold by the pound ($23 for most) as at traditional smoke houses. The emphasis here is on meat, smoke, salt and pepper. Elaborate spice rubs and sauces are secondary, at best.
There’s also rotisserie chicken ($13 for a whole bird) and other Peruvian dishes such as salchipapas (sliced hot dogs over French fries), arroz chaufa (fried rice) and lomo saltado (marinated sirloin steak). Starters are all over the map: broccoli salad, fried calamari, chicken wings, corn on the cob.
Smoked Barn is at 2932 Hempstead Tpke., Levittown, 516-396-9892.