Red Hook is My “Hometown”

In the world of barbecue, beef ribs have earned the nickname of “brontosaurus ribs” for their size, and in a type of cuisine where gigantic portions are a must, they’ve been slowly gaining in popularity.  In Red Hook, Bill Durney of Hometown Barbecue decided that these Flintstone-style ribs weren’t big enough, so in a bold move he made them better.  Durney purchases his ribs in three-bone sections, removes the middle bone then divides the hunks into two.  Once he’s done this, Durney rubs them with salt and pepper, and smokes them for up to 14 hours before he finally decides that they’re ready to be served up to customers.

Hometown Barbecue

People waiting in line to get their fix of barbecue at Hometown

While eating a whole beef rib isn’t easy, Hometown Barbecue makes it even harder.  If you can make it through an entire rib, you’ll most likely have trouble finding room in your stomach for anything else.  If you end up giving up before you finish, don’t worry, because you’ll be sure to have some great leftovers.

Located on the water in Red Hook, Hometown was originally supposed to open in late 2012.  Yet at the tail end of Van Brunt Street, it was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.  Yet when his barbecue spot was flooded, Durney didn’t give up.  He and his business partner drained the flood waters, made repairs and finally opened a year later.  Defiantly fighting the elements, Hometown is still in its original waterfront location, almost daring another hurricane to try and erase it.

Not surprisingly, the story of Hometown has caught the eye of food nuts in Brooklyn and beyond.  New York food blog Serious Eats has written several articles about the spot.  According to the writers, the best thing to eat there is hands-down the beef rib.  $22 a pound, the ridiculously tender meat is barely held together by a large bone.  The rich meat eats like a tender steak as opposed to a stew meat, serving as a shining example for how beef ribs should be made.  Apart from such barbecue standards as sausage and brisket, Durney serves more off-beat barbecue dishes, such as pulled lamb belly or jerk chicken.  As a general rule, Durney does a great job at not over-smoking his meat, a major pitfall of pitmasters.

If there’s one fatal flaw of Hometown Barbecue, it’s its location.  Red Hook is naturally a hike; most spots (and Hometown is no exception) are far, far away from any subway stop, and in the case of Hometown, that stop is on the notoriously ill-reputed G line.  Yet making the trip is well worth it, as evidenced by the generous (and delicious portions) and the fun atmosphere of the massive spot, a campy honky-tonk place that’s able to keep its charm without feeling like an impersonal generic “barbecue theme park”.  If you ever do find yourself in Red Hook, however, then it’s definitely worth a visit.