Chewy's owner went to pros to become a winner



April 07, 2004|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Demetris Nicolaidis began making plans for opening a barbecue restaurant in Baltimore, he did what any sensible person would do: He headed south.

According to his mom, who works with him at the newly opened Chewy's Southern Pit on Dundalk Avenue, Nicolaidis made several trips through barbecue country - the Carolinas and into Georgia - checking out restaurants and cadging recipes.

The homework paid off; Chewy's is a winner.

You can tell it as soon as you walk into the small eatery, which sits across the street from a steelworkers union hall. There's a pile of apple-wood logs used to cook the meats and a sign on the door informing customers that this is not a fast-food restaurant. (There's also a big statue of Homer Simpson wearing an apron, and Homer surely knows good barbecue when he finds it.) Service was wonderfully quick and friendly.

Back home, we tore through all the food.

The highlight was a Memphis-style pulled-pork sandwich on a fresh roll ($5.45). The meat had been slow-cooked in a large and shiny wood-fired oven and seasoned with just the right amount of tangy sauce. A side order of red slaw (flavored with ketchup) was odd but good.

A rack of baby back ribs ($11.95) had been cooked with a dry rub of spices and then covered with sauce. The meat was tender and avoided the trap of being too sweet. A gourmet burger ($3.95), made with a half-pound of good-quality meat, was cooked over a fire and was one of the best burgers I've run across in months. We resisted the "Trojan pounder plus burger" ($7.25), which is made with two of the beef slabs. (I was told by staffers that they once weighed a Trojan with all the fixings and it came in at 21 1/2 ounces, enough perhaps to slow even Homer.)

Finally, buffalo wings ($5.75 for 10) were fried nicely and came with "suicide" hot sauce, which was hot but not ghastly.

For dessert, Chewy's offers a few homemade cakes. We tried carrot and chocolate ($1.95), both of which were just fine.

Chewy's Southern Pit

Food: *** 1/2

Service: *** 1/2

Waiting area: ***

Parking: ***

Where: 545 Dundalk Ave., Baltimore

Phone: 410-631-5111

Web site: www.chewys

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday

Prices: Barbecue pork, beef, turkey and ham sandwiches; ribs; chicken; burgers; soups and salads, $4.45 to $12.95; credit cards accepted

Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *

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