Sunday, June 14, 2009

The search for decent barbecue

I defy anyone who has traveled much in the Southeastern United States to avoid becoming hooked on great 'cue. My love affair with smoky, spicy meat began in Lexington, NC, when the aromas drifting across the highway from Lexington Barbecue #1 drew me magnetically toward the most magnificent pulled pork I have ever had.

While I am fully aware that the Bay area is not known for barbecue, I figured surely someone must do it right. The old Flint's in Oakland in the 1970s and early 1980s certainly came close. And there is much to like about family-run Everett & Jones in Berkeley and Oakland. But what about the North Bay?

My search is not over, but I am pleased to report that Lombardi's Deli on North Petaluma Blvd. in Petaluma serves up credible 'Q. The five hot smokers lined up in front of the store was a welcoming sign on my recent visit.

The baby back ribs were slow smoked with light seasoning, then served with a sweet sauce infused with cayenne pepper on the side. Although the sauce had a rich, tomato flavor and good flavor overall, it should be served hot, not cold.

As for the ribs, they were meaty, hot, and smoky. But this wasn't falling-off-the-bone barbecue-these weren't cooked quite long or slow enough. Good taste, completely acceptable, but not championship barbecue.

Even though these weren't fantastic ribs, I was impressed at the variety of barbecued items offered at Lombardi's, and the men tending the grills definitely took their work seriously. Other items included fresh asparagus, juicy mushrooms, hamburgers, and fresh oysters. My starter of a filled (deviled) egg was a little bland but it was fresh and attractive.

All in all, Lombardi's makes a good lunch stop or carryout if you are in or near Petaluma. But it doesn't warrant a long drive.

My search continues. -- Post From My iPhone