January 20, 2011

Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joint

 4847 Merrick Rd.
Massapequa Park, NY

This past Sunday, as we sat at Jeremy's house and watched the Jets shock the Patriots (while eating mediocre wings), our friend Pat asked us why we haven't tried Smokin' Al's wings yet.  Well, I had never heard of the place before, but tucked it away in my memory.  When it came time to choose a place to go for our Wednesday wing meetup, I threw out Smokin' Al's as a suggestion.  Knowing that Massapequa is a hike for me, Steve suggested Sly Fox Inn by St. John's University.  We decided to make our choice based on the menu.  I copied the descriptions into an email and sent them to Jeremy and Steve.  Sly Fox Inn offers "Jumbo Buffalo Wings... tossed in pepper sauce with bleu cheese dressing".  Smokin' Al's describes their "Some Like it Hot" wings as "Chicken wings, rubbed, smoked and then smothered with Al's Famous Rattlesnake Sauce". Steve's reply:
Rattlesnake sauce! We HAVE to go there!
Sorry Jody... My vote is for Smokin' Al's!

Fair enough, it's tough to argue with that. So I walked to the subway station, took the A train to Penn Station, took the LIRR to Bayside, walked home, got in my car and hopped on the Grand Central Parkway.  About two hours later I was in Massapequa ordering a Sierra Nevada and wings.

The waitress warned us that they didn't serve traditional pub wings.  They are conjoined, smoked and coated in BBQ sauce and she didn't want us to be disappointed.  We assured her that this wasn't our first rodeo and we knew what we were in for.  The wings came out very quickly and were as advertised.  I'd put them in the same category as Virgil's wings, which I really liked.  

Jeremy rolled up his sleeves and dug in first.  He gave his stamp of approval almost immediately.  The wings were cooked really well.  They are smoked for hours, seasoned with a dry rub and drenched in BBQ sauce.  They have just enough char on the skin and are moist and tender in the middle.  They were conjoined, pretty large and had a good amount of meat.  They offer two choices of sauce: regular and rattle snake.  As far as we could tell, the only difference between the two is some crushed red pepper in the rattle snake to give it a little more heat.  It didn't make it all that hot, so if you tend to shy away from very spicy foods, don't worry, you can probably handle the rattle snake.  I felt the sauce was strong on the vinegar and maybe a little thin.  Steve thought it was too sweet, which I agreed with.  Jeremy was the biggest fan of the three of us and didn't have much in the form of criticism.  Small critiques aside, we had no problem polishing them off.

Instead of ordering another plate of wings, we decided to mix it up and get a haystack and burnt endz.  The haystack is an obscenely large portion of fried onion rings piled about ten feet high on a plate.  Seriously, the three of us went to work on it and didn't even come close to eating half.  I'm not a fan of the huge portion.  I feel like it's gimmicky and most of it ends up wasted.  No question it was a tasty appetizer, but I'd say it would take about 6 hungry guys to polish it off.  That seems excessive to me.  The burnt endz were much more manageable (although they were served on a bed of haystack!) and we took care of them no problem.  These are the seasoned, crusted, burnt ends of their brisket that they chop off after smoking for 12 hours.  They are of course coated in their BBQ sauce. Unlike a lot of imitation BBQ places, the smokey flavor really comes through at Smokin' Al's.  I guess that's why Zagat voted them best BBQ on Long Island six years in a row.

Overall, I'd say they're a few notches below Virgil's but a solid choice if you're on LI and need some BBQ.  They also have a location in Bay Shore. Check them out.  Make sure you're hungry.  Really hungry.

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