Friday, 18 July 2014

The Pit

Three people sitting at The Pit, Raleigh, NC
Barry Campbell, wifey and myself
One of the purposes of this trip is to get some insight into different BBQ business models and what makes them popular and presumably successful. On one end, there is Allen & Son BBQ, a fishing shack off the newly-paved state highway 86; on another, there's The Pit, a flashy city BBQ restaurant with a visible wine cooler, upscale d├ęcor and a good looking local crown. For a Friday night, this made sense and for what The Pit does, it does it well.

We had the very good fortune of dining with Barry Campbell, who I worked with at Summit Systems in NYC, and had not seen in what we realized was 14 years. The Pit was on my itinerary for Friday night. Barry also suggested so the stars were aligned. And Barry picked up the tab so super duper thanks to you old buddy!

After a lunch at Allen & Son BBQ, another BBQ pulled-pork plate did not really make sense so we filled the gap with dishes we had not yet had on the trip. The deviled eggs were sublime and the fried okra blew our minds. Crisp, salty, perfect. This is a must. A sample of the Brunswick Stew reinforced my belief that yes this is a nice local specialty and is probably nice in the winter; it did not really get me too excited. I can see how some cayenne pepper could wake up the flavor a bit.

The Pit, Raleigh storyWe decided to order a rack of pork ribs and the BBQ chicken. Despite being in the East, both were dressed with a standard tomato-based BBQ sauce. And, in true Carolina style, both were very moist and lightly smoked, not the aggressive smoke that I tend to prefer. This makes sense on the chicken but I would have liked a bit more on the ribs. Barry and I suspect that the ribs might have been par-boiled or precooked before hitting the smoker as they were incredibly moist, something I have never been able to attain on a smoker. Then again, the ribs at Little Richards also were very moist so perhaps I have some work to do.

Wifey, who does not eat meat (bless her heart) has been a real sport this week. Fortunately, all the places we have hit had had some sort of fish dish. She OD’d on the flounder at lunch and decided to try the BBQ tofu. This could have been a winner but was unfortunately drowning in a too-sweet sauce.

The remaining sides were all passable but not earth shattering: beans, slaw, hush puppies, etc.

The Pit is not dissimilar from city-based BBQ restaurants in other major cities. It has a winning formula and was booked solid for the evening. If you are in Raleigh and looking for some barbeque, I would recommend this, but would not necessarily consider this a destination. However, The Pit did give us some ideas and it is good to see that even in the heart of one of the BBQ meccas, there is still room for a place like The Pit. Which goes to show, a good business model and a good product drives success.

The Pit
328 W. Davie St.
Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: (919) 890-4500

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