Pit Stop BBQ is a shoebox-sized over-the-counter lunch joint on Route 372, not too far from I-84 and about halfway between Hartford and Southington. The tight dining area is comprised of a few stools and a tiny window counter. I wasn't sure whether the litany of used books and other media was intended for sale or to pass the time while waiting and eating.
Pit Stop BBQ is a misnomer, as the only barbecue item is a pulled pork sandwich, available in two different sizes and with two different sauces. (To be fair, I should mention that the "BBQ" part of Pit Stop BBQ isn't in the sign over the door, but their menu, their street signs, web listings and newspaper articles all say Pit Stop BBQ.) The rest of the menu focuses on typical hand-held and takeout fare, from rotisserie beef, grilled cheese, turkey and Cuban sandwiches to steamed burgers to hotdogs with or without chili. A few different soups are also on offer.
I stopped in solo for an early Saturday lunch that kicked off a 3-stop Connecticut crawl.
There were no appetizers.
Pulled pork sandwich: I ordered a large pulled pork sandwich Carolina style. As I saw the pork lifted via tongs from the steam setup in long shreds and dripping into the pan, two thoughts hit me: 1) "This is going to be very moist," and 2) "This ain't smoked." I went 1-for-2.
A huge portion was packed into a very fresh hoagie roll, then hit with a sauce that struck me as sweet mustard thinned down with extra vinegar and a little hot sauce. Evidently, that's what made it Carolina style, because no slaw was provided as adornment.
The meat had no bark, but a few scattered pink spots suggested that it was at least slow cooked if not smoked. It had no bite either, as smoke, rub and porkiness were all on holiday. I can't prove this pork wasn't smoked, but I'd bet money on it. The pork had the same mouthfeel as solid white tuna that was impeccably drained and not tossed in mayo. In other words, it was extremely dry. The meat absorbed the mustard vinegar sauce like a sponge, but biting down on it didn't release any natural juices or sauce (if I took this home, I would have added another 5 ounces or so of sauce). Flavor came almost entirely from the sauce, which had tiny flecks of finely chopped red pepper. The high quality roll turned out to be the highlight of the sandwich.
I liked the sweet, tangy punch of the sauce. I rarely say this, but the meat in this case needed much more sauce.
I tried the potato salad as an extra side (no sides are included with the sandwiches). I liked the strong presence of the red bliss skins and the simplicity of the condiment (mayo and a few herbs with some light heat).
The Bottom Line
With a different name, I might be more forgiving of a mediocre pulled pork sandwich. But if you're going to call yourself Pit Stop BBQ, you're held to a higher standard, and this sandwich just didn't hold up.
2008 Hartford Courant profile of Pit Stop BBQ
Urbanspoon reviews of Pit Stop BBQ