DRACUT — It’s the season of satisfying comfort food and hearty, stick-to-your-ribs fare for watching this weekend’s Pats game, the Super Bowl or any other event that gathers a group in front of a television.
Fortunately, anyone in Dracut looking for St. Louis-style smoked ribs to serve with the game doesn’t have to order them online from St. Louis. Same for family-size smokehouse BBQ chicken, wings, pulled pork, pulled chicken, chili and burgers.
Across the street from the schools complex, Peter and Charelle Bruno have been building a loyal clientele for Pete’s BBQ Pit since they opened in April 2010. The couple started Pete’s when the food industry company at which they both worked closed. A casual eatery and a popular takeout destination, Pete’s has something for everyone — from flavorful barbecue sauce with just a touch of kick to very, very hot; from fresh-made salads to frappes. For a $2 fee, they even deliver to most homes in the area.
Peter, a former pastry chef and graduate of Johnson and Wales, served as the head chef at Harvard University for 10 years, feeding 10,000 people a day. For him, hungry locals looking for smoked ribs, piled high burgers and family platters of ribs, wings, steak tips and dirty rice are simply a “piece of cake.”
Q: Has barbecue proven to be popular in Dracut?
A: (Peter) It’s been growing and we see new customers all the time. Many people come in and say they didn’t even know we were here. We’re just a little place doing the best we can. We buy our products locally and everything here is homemade — our potato salad, macaroni salad, cole slaw, hand-cut fries, potato skins, jalapeno poppers. Nothing is frozen; the hamburger, chicken, steak tips and everything else are cut here.
Q: What process do you use to make the ribs?
A: (Peter) We use a dry rub and then we smoke them, and then char them up with a flavor of choice. I make up all the sauces, and customers can choose between regular hot, sweet hot, XXX hot and BBQ. Everything is made to order, so it may take a little longer, but the wait is worth it.
Q: What’s the most popular item on the menu?
A: (Peter) That’s a tough one. I’d have to say the Pit Burger has been number one since day one. It’s a burger brushed with barbecue sauce while it’s cooking. We top it with cheese, our own onion rings, and then we pour cheddar cheese sauce all over it, filling up the circle of the onion rings with the sauce. The second most popular would be the wings, and next the pulled pork. We go through 60 to 70 pounds of pork in a week.
Q: Tell us about your Wall of Flame.
A: (Peter) You have to be able to eat six of the hottest wings in the world — the sauce is bought in India — within eight minutes. If you win your picture is up on the Wall of Flame; if you lose, you’re on the Wall of Shame. People do it, but they are suffering. Mostly kids do it, and the college kids get a kick out of it. I haven’t even tried it. But it’s fun and I like to have fun in this place. It’s family-oriented. People can watch TV, do the Hall of Flame, try an arcade game. We’re hustling, trying new things to build up the business.
Q: What style is your chili?
A: (Charelle) I use onions, peppers, jalapeno and I use different meats all the time. I might use pulled pork one time, another time rib meat. It never comes out the same since I make it different every day. I simmer it about six hours, and sometimes it comes out spicy and others times not so spicy, depending on the jalapeno pepper. The potato salad and the macaroni salad here are always the same, but my chili is always different. If it’s not hot enough, we can always kick it up with the hot sauce.
Pete’s BBQ Pit, 1595 Lakeview Ave., Dracut, 978-957-0554; open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Ordering ahead on game days and other busy times is encouraged.