B-B-Q Inc is one of many restaurants and bars that line on Park Avenue, just off Merrick Road, in Rockville Centre. The joint is more of a long bar with tables than a restaurant with a bar. Although fairly new, B-B-Q Inc has a lived-in look and is a comfortable spot to watch sports on the projection TV. The giant front window that resembles a garage door made of glass is removable during the warmer months, offering an open air bistro feel. There's also seasonal outdoor seating at the rear of the restaurant.
The appetizer-heavy menu leans toward bar food options, including a Texas link (grilled Andouille sausage), burnt ends, hot wings (not smoked), corn bread with jalapeño marmalade, onion rings, chili, potato skins, nachos, "28 spice" fries and sweet potato fries.
For barbecue there are two types of ribs ("fall off the bone" babybacks and St Louis cut), brisket, pulled pork, barbecued chicken and pulled chicken. The Rib Sampler platter includes a half rack of both rib types; the Pig Out sampler includes a half rack of babybacks, a Texas link and a choice of one other barbecue meat. The chicken, pork and brisket are also available as sandwiches and all on the same sandwich in "The Bubba." You can also get mac and cheese on a brisket sandwich and on a burger, which is also available with chili or with bacon, cheese and"frizzled" onions.
I visited B-B-Q Inc. on a Sunday night, joined by two barbecue fans who are well versed in the Long Island BBQ landscape.
We started with the burnt ends ($5.95) and the fresh baked cornbread with jalapeno marmalade ($1.95).
Burnt ends are always fun to order because you never quite know what to expect. Sometimes they're the extra crispy pieces from the thinnest part of the flat. Sometimes they're the smoked point (fatty end) of the brisket. Sometimes they're sauced. Sometimes they're extra rubbed. The burnt ends here appeared to be chopped leftover brisket slices, dredged in liquid to provide some moisture/tenderness, then pan fried in either oil or leftover brisket fat, then sprinkled with rub for flavor. Regardless of how it was done, the little bits of beef were crisp and moist, like rendered bacon. I applaud the outside-the-box thinking if that's what they are, but despite a worthy attempt at creativity the meat beneath the glistened outer surface was still a little dry, and it was pretty obvious this was repurposed leftovers. That didn't stop the burnt ends from being an interesting and somewhat enjoyable opener, but it did stop short of the triumph that burnt ends can be.
Cornbread takes a detour from the usual humdrum here with the addition of the jalapeno marmalade, served in a separate container to allow dipping as desired. The cornbread was decent but the marmalade made the dish, supplying a little more sweet than heat in a well-executed concoction that could easily find its way onto the breakfast table or the competition cook's arsenal.
Having already visited another Long island barbecue joint earlier that evening, we gave the meats a test drive by ordering the Pig Out platter ($19.95 with cole slaw and the 28 spice fries) plus a pulled pork sandwich ($9.95 with cole slaw and onion rings in place of the fries).
The "fall off the bone" ribs on the Pig Out platter bore an unusual but well crusted surface, exhibited some retraction from the bone at the ends and were indeed cooked to fall-off-the-bone tenderness (which is not desirable for the barbecue purist). The gray meat flopped from the bone with a mere shake; one of my tablemates compared the texture to oatmeal. The flavor had a light porkiness but didn't resemble anything I've ever tasted that came out of a smoker.
Brisket was oddly pale, lacked any surface rub or crispness, and though well lubricated with judicious use of a lighter sauce than was on the table, had a steamy, pot roasty consistency. I'm guessing it would have tasted a little better the next day in the burnt ends appetizer, which provided superior flavor and texture.
Pulled pork, though also overcooked, presented a little better than the ribs and brisket. The slightly pink meat had zero bark, zero smoke and the texture was close to mush (though shy of losing its integrity). The flavor was marginally appealing even though, like the ribs, the pork carried none of the barbecue signature that's instantly recognizable regardless of the smoke level. With a little sauce and tucked within the sandwich, the pork was at least manageable.
The sausage on the platter was by far the best meat of the night, a split-and-grilled Andouille that supplied some unexpected heat and more flavor than the rest of the entree meats combined.
A single table sauce was mostly molasses, with maybe some corn syrup and vinegar thrown in. The pork and brisket had a lighter brown sauce that was fairly neutral, (presumably) used more as a lubricant than anything else.
The onion rings were the puffy kind, cooked to a nice crispness. The cole slaw was overly salty. I love salt and have been accused of oversalting, but even I thought the amount used—enough for at least a dozen more servings—was overkill. Beans were small and fairly traditional, with a strong molasses flavor and bits of crispy ham or bacon in a traditional ceramic bowl. The "28 Spice Fries" had some seasoning but were just your basic fries kicked up a little and kicked back down by their limp texture. Serving them under the drippings of the steamy ribs probably didn't help. Compared to the spiced fries a little further west at Smoke Joint in Brooklyn, these tasted like they were at least 20 spices short.
The prices across the board were significantly lower than one would expect, and on the night of our visit they were offering a three-course dinner for $19.95. B-B-Q Inc. also have 20-cent wings on Thursdays and Sundays. This is very much noticed an appreciated.
Service was also extremely attentive, with our server genuinely buoyed by our compliments of some of the dishes and crushed by our forthrightness on the ones we did not enjoy. That's rare and equally appreciated.
As a venue for watching sports, B-B-Q Inc. gets points for keeing the volume up high enough so the whole restaurant can hear the play-by-play, but low enough to enjoy conversation.
Gnats on the table lose some points.
The bottom line: This certainly isn't destination barbecue, and if I lived in the area I probably still wouldn't drop in for it. But the overall experience and the vibe of the place, especially as a sports bar, make it a joint I might visit for a drink or a (non-BBQ) snack.
Yelp reviews of BBQ Inc.