Having lived in the Triangle area for about two years now, I have heard a lot of high praise for The Pit, a Raleigh barbecue joint. Yesterday, I finally made the drive over to give it a try.
The first thing you notice when you get to W. Davie Street is that it does not look like the typical barbecue dive. The Pit is located in what looks like an old warehouse in Raleigh. I have to admit that I was more than a little skeptical when I drove up and saw a valet stand outside. When you step inside, it looks more like a moderately upscale restaurant than a barbecue joint. Gone are the picnic tables, cinder blocks, wood paneling, and old tablecloths. These are replaced by trendy paints and a large bar that takes up the front portion of the restaurant. My skepticism was further increased when I noticed, toward the bottom of the menu, a choice for tofu barbecue. You read that right, tofu. At a ‘barbecue’ restaurant.
At this point, my expectations were not very high. I decided to order something basic: a chopped barbecue sandwich with cole slaw, fries, Brunswick stew, and sweet tea. After what seemed like 30 minutes, the tea arrived. It was fairly decent, albeit too sweet for my tastes (which is saying something). The stew was next. It was turkey-based, with a generous portion of vegetables. It was quit thin, so that it tasted more like vegetable soup than Brunswick stew. That said, it was marginally good vegetable soup. The barbecue was in the Eastern NC tradition: pork, pit cooked without sauce, chopped, and served with slaw. While it wasn’t the best I have had, it was pretty good. The slaw had the right amount of mayonnaise, and the pork was moist and flavorful. There are two sauce choices. The first, which I would recommend, is a vinegar based sauce. It has enough kick to it, although it is complemented by an unfortunate sweet taste. The other choice is a tomato based sauce, and I would generally warn visitors to stay away from it.
All-in-all, The Pit was okay. It was too “dressy” for my tastes, but Mrs. BBQisNotaVerb probably would have liked the options better than many of the barbecue places to which I drag her. If you are in Raleigh, it is probably worth a stop, although I wouldn’t make a special trip, and you can certainly find more authentic places in the area.