No matter that its nearest body of water is a pungent canal, teeming with 100 years worth of industrial pollutants, street runoff and raw sewage—Gowanus might just be one of Brooklyn’s most idyllic summertime spots.
That’s because the unambiguously urban neighborhood has transformed into a seriously legit smoked meat hub (the short-lived Fort Reno, which was technically in Park Slope anyway, notwithstanding). In addition to the born-in-Brooklyn Fletcher’s and the sizable outpost of upstate favorite, Dinosaur, a summer-long barbecue pop-up has just debuted in the backyard of the Green Building event space, helmed by an all-star pit-crew.
Dubbed Pig Beach, the 150-seat eatery is actually a collaboration between two talented barbecue teams, who’ve each had strong showings in the World Champion Barbecue Competition in Memphis: Ed McFarland, the chef/owner of Ed’s Lobster, and Matt Abdoo, Del Posto’s chef de cuisine, represent Salty Rinse BBQ (which won the silver in this year’s whole hog cook-off), and Balthazar’s executive chef, Shane McBride, is the captain of the Ribdiculous Bar-B-Crewe, which snagged second place in the 2014 “mustard sauce” category.
An unlikely achievement indeed, for a group of guys that notably cut their teeth in the elite world of fine dining. And yet, they’ve happily traded in their sous vide machines for smokers once again, in order to serve baby back ribs, hot links, grilled brisket burgers, pork shoulder, and short rib chili to t-shirted, flip-flopped, sauce-stained beer-swiggers for the next three months.
Their 10,000-square foot venue is appealingly outfitted with picnic tables, ping-pong tables, and a full bar—all one really needs to pass a lazy summer Friday. So while it may be years yet before Gowanus can reasonably be associated, once again, with fresh-from-the-water seafood (sorry, Littleneck!) the smell of slow-cooked pig fat—which effectively eclipses the potent odors of the canal—has made it a prime destination for fun-in-the-sun barbecue.
480 Union Street, Gowanus