So my better half and I finally made it to Ruthie's as we have been meaning to for a while. For those of you familiar with Montclair NJ, Ruthie's is a little bit off the beaten path, bout five blocks off of Bloomfield Avenue on the artsy side of town, though still somehow walking distance from more than one if my old apartments, yet I've never made it there?
Walking in to Ruthie's I was immediately comfortable. The music went back and forth from blues selections that the management obviously cherry picked, to a a blues/jazz/roots program on Newark's own WBGO, and back again. Between that, the 50's style furniture, the deep wood-grained surfaces, and the wall hangings, mostly record covers, autographs, and concert posters from yesteryear, this is a place I could definitely hang out.
We ordered the brisket and pulled pork platters. When I say this stuff was good I mean it. The pork tasted like just that. Maybe this is different in other states, but here in New Jersey it is not often that in a commercial environment I taste something advertised as barbecued pork that has the actual pork flavor that I can produce in my backyard. I didn't notice much bark mixed in but it is possible that I was so busy taking everything in that I may have missed it. The brisket was great too. Served, it looked pulled rather than sliced, and while I realize it is hard to know if that was intentional or not it tasted great. It was salty to the right extent that the juices mingled while complementing the sauce. The meat was sauced appropriately, enough to sweeten the deal but not so much to upstage the real stars of the show.
Both were served on metal trays with butcher paper, piled on grilled hard rolls with lots of large seasoned fries which were a delight on their own. In addition to that, they were also accompanied by some slaw. This was no stale diner paper shot-cup mayo-intensive slaw, but a gorgeous red cabbage, vinegar and onion concoction that I don't really know how to explain. It could be a regional style from somewhere my shadow hasn't darkened yet, but it was fresh with crisp veggies and a sharp, tangy flavor that offset the sweet sauce. That and a pickle rounded out each of our plates.
For our next time out at Ruthie's, we will take a look at their ribs and maybe some sides like mac and cheese and greens, or maybe something else as they have a long list. We will also shoot for a day when they have some live music on their back patio. This is a BYOB place where I could definitely call a few friends and stay for a while. By the way, they also serve thin-crust pizza which I may review if I ever start a thin-crust pizza blog, which between this place and the Star Tavern I may be thinking about now. If I gave stars i would give this place eleven and a half out fo ten.
RUTHIES BBQ & PIZZA
Montclair, NJ 07042