From parking lot at Revere’s Northgate Shopping Center, it’s impossible not to notice the pink pig across the street on the roof of Big Lou Rib House. After making mental promises to myself while driving past the pig several times on the way to nearby Uncle Pete’s (just a half mile further down Squire Road), I finally upgraded curiosity to action and gave Big Lou Rib House a try.
I passed through a foyer that smelled of the previous night’s beer and cigarettes to meeta friend for a Saturday lunch. By 11:30AM the joint had about a dozen customers, most of them at the bar. The joint is one big bar room, with a row of booths by the front windows, several high-top tables and a long bar that would be the focal point of the space were it not for the two dozen TV sets visible from every angle. Off to the side, there’s a smaller room, with another four or six TVs, that can be used for private parties. I imagined how loud the room could get during a Patriots game on Sunday.
As the space would suggest, the menu is more pub fare than barbecue. There are three kinds of rib on the menu (babybacks, St Louis and country style) and a pulled pork sandwich, but the real emphasis is on burgers, wings, steak tips and the like.
With a when-in-Rome attitude, we started with an order of the wings. They were meaty, borderline crispy and bathed in a generic tangy Buffalo sauce that had a little kick. They were far from the best wings I’ve had, but far from the worst.
For the main event, we shared a rib sampler that had all three rib types. All were lightly sauced and lightly charred. The ribs on the bone, not nearly as meaty as the wings, were tender, mild and gray inside. The flavor was nondescript, with the brown sauce providing more moisture than flavor. The single country style rib, brushed with what had to be Ah So sauce, was a little hard to cut. While not dried out, it had less moisture than the other ribs. I’m guessing all were parboiled, and I’m guessing none saw any time in a smoker. They were far from the best ribs I’ve had, but not too far from the worst.
There’s no choice of sauce and no extra sauce on the table.
Sides were just OK: onion rings were crisp but had that industrial pre-packaged feel; cole slaw tasted like it came straight from Stop & Shop.
The bottom line: It’s not barbecue, but to be fair, I have to acknowledge that they never promised barbecue. That said, ribs—even when they’re boiled and broiled, chain restaurant style—are usually better than these.