CLOSED: Wildwood BBQ
225 Park Ave South, between 18th Street & 19th Street, Gramercy
Getting There: 6 to 23rd Street
Restaurant Review: Wildwood BBQ
(This restaurant has since CLOSED)
Food staples from around the country are receiving the New York City treatment on a regular basis. No longer will you have to travel thousands of miles to enjoy delicacies that states around our land have bragged about for decades. Barbecue is one such food. Many regions hold claim to it, with various styles and preparation. But at New York City’s Wildwood BBQ, Manhattanites are able to sample some tasty smoked meat concoctions without boarding a plane.
The layout of Wildwood BBQ is supposed to resemble a typical southern joint, with water served in mason jars and a rustic tin look covering the ceiling. The space itself is huge, easily accommodating a party of any size, conjuring up thoughts of a ‘Cue with the stylings of a Dos Caminos, another restaurant underneath Wildwood’s BR Guest umbrella. But it should be noted that we dined out on a jammed-up Friday, so grabbing a reservation in advance is certainly recommended. A long bar located on the other side of a partition allows patrons a place to grab a drink or light snack before getting seated. Also worth mentioning, the wait staff at Wildwood is seemingly innumerable, but also extremely friendly and knowledgeable. There was not one point in our visit when our waiter wasn’t around to take an order or check in with our satisfaction.
A common misconception is that barbecue is a simple dish, but comparative tastings tell us that that could not be further from the truth. That being so, it took our group awhile to narrow down the exact type of fare to chow down on this evening, with the menu being so large. Since everyone’s tastes varied, we decided to try various items off of the menu and pass the portions around. We led off with their buffalo style “Chicken Wings” ($9.50), which come eight to an order. They were saucy without being overly messy, and spicy without being too intense, with a rich, smoky flavor.
The wings provided a great base for a meal that was both filling and extremely satisfying. In keeping with the idea of choosing various, “greatest hits” from the Wildwood menu we decided to go with a full rack of “Dry Rubbed BBQ Pork Spare Ribs” ($24.50), a full rack of “Kansas City Baby Back Ribs” served with sauce ($25.95), a “Texas Smoked Brisket” ($17.95), and finally, one “Smoked Sausage Link” ($4.50). It must be said that this was a lot of food for our group of three. But if you have a big appetite this is simply the way to go in order to truly experience the fine work they do over at Wildwood.
By ordering both a wet and dry rub rib order, one is able to get the best of both worlds. The dry spare ribs were smoky and salty, with the meat easily falling off the rather large bones. The baby back ribs were sticky and provided a sweet and tangy contrast, and had easily one of the best barbecue sauces around. Wildwood’s Brisket can be served either lean or with some fat. Our group decided to go with the latter. It was tender to the point of melting in one’s mouth, and totally something every meat lover must try. Also, since the brisket was served with a side of potatoes, cornbread, and a pickled jalapeno, there was no need for us to order any additional side items. Speaking of that popular Spanish pepper, the smoked sausage link was filled with them, yielding a great deal of heat.
With Dinosaur BBQ, Daisy May’s, Brother Jimmy’s, and Rub, all within Manhattan, standing out in a crowd of ‘Cue is no easy feat. But after dining at Wildwood BBQ, it is really no surprise that it has become one of New York City’s most sought after barbecue joints. All the meats are prepared under the watchful eye of award-winning pitmaster Big Lou, a former NYPD motorcycle cop. Even though it appears that we ate a majority of the menu, the truth is we barely made a dent. Therefore a return visit is in order to tackle the rest of their brilliant smoked delights. So do yourself a favor and cancel that trip to Texas or St. Louis because great ‘Cue is right in your backyard.