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This was my second visit to the recently opened new location (they moved from East Boston in 2005), and this time Pete himself was there as usual, sampling the kitchen product and visiting customers. The cheesy 1950s cowboy steakhouse look here is so far out it's in, and the high black leather booths are very comfortable. It's the kind of place that makes you want to stay a while and just relax. There's a separate bar in the back.
Ribs here come in 3 varieties: baby backs, loin ribs (St Louis), and beef ribs. They also have pulled pork, brisket and barbecued chicken. Pete's wife is Thai, so there are a number of Thai-influenced items, such as an Asian slaw with peanuts.
At lunch, the $6.95 specials feature a 3-rib sampler with 2 sides. At this price, it made sense to get both the beef ribs and pork ribs. The pork ribs were smoky and juicy, but firmer than the usual melt in your mouth variety I've had here before; I wonder if it's because I didn't get a full or half rack. They were still tasty, just not top notch. The beef ribs were huge, perfectly cooked, pink and delicious, with a nice contrast in textures between the very tender inside and the spice crusted crunchy outside, sauced at the last minute. These were a tremendous value and better than the pork.
Cole slaw was creamy and had nice crunch, but way, way too sweet. The onion rings were bumpy, crunchy, hot and delicious. I've had these a few times in Revere now and I have to say they're among the best, if not the best onion rings to be had at a BBQ joint. The hand cut, skin on French fries had great flavor, but were slightly limp from sitting in a huge batch, waiting to be assigned to orders. The portions for all of the sides were so huge I couldn't finish them. The sweet potato biscuit served with all orders was a nice touch, but way too sweet and reminiscent of a week-old Pop 'n' Fresh product.
I returned with a friend a few days later and the beef ribs were just as good, the pork ribs more tender (but with a slightly mushy rub), and the fries were much, much better. On my last 3 visits the pork ribs varied from melt-in-your-mouth tender to tender to firm.
I returned with another friend a month later and he was in ecstacy, as we split full racks of baby backs, loin ribs and beef ribs. All were superb, very meaty and tender, with a good contrast between the crisp crust and the juicy insides. There's a LOT of meat on the beef ribs and even the babybacks are meaty, as you can see in the photos. The sides were flawless.
If you visit Uncle Pete's, be prepared to get an influx of sugar. The sauces, dressings and meat preparations are much sweeter here than elsewhere. If you like sweet, you'll love Uncle Pete. If you're diabetic or prefer your meats more savory, this might not be your best choice.
Pete is a friendly guy who is genuinely interested in discussing the barbecue and actually listens to your response when he asks how everything is. The servers are generally friendly and helpful too.
The closing: Uncle Pete's closed in April 2009 after owner Peter Cucchiara suffered a head injury and died.
The bottom line: Although I considered Uncle Pete's somewhat overrated by both the local press and by posters on bulletin boards like Chowhound.com, this was still some of the best barbecue in the area, providing a satisfying BBQ fix even on an off day. Not in my top 5, but definitely somewhere in that next tier.