If you’re looking for a place with great food in a comfortable atmosphere, Joe’s Garage and Grill in Riverhead should be your next pit stop. Joe’s offers southern-style barbecue with a few twists in one of the prettiest locations in Riverhead, complete with an open-air dining room looking out on the Peconic River.
On a gorgeous end-of-summer evening, we couldn’t resist sitting outside. We started out with Joe’s famous Tokyo Drift sliders—smoked pork belly inside a bun that looked like an arepa (which are a kind of flatbread traditionally made with corn flour) and topped with spicy/sour kimchee, a bright cucumber salsa, and Joe’s Garage sauce, which is made with peppers, mayo, garlic, lemon and a variety of savory spices. A delicious Asian twist to this eclectic BBQ menu.
The crispy calamari was indeed crispy, served with a lively jalapeño remoulade. The Asian-style duck wings were phenomenal, vaguely smoky and slightly sweet, topped with black and white sesame seeds and served with a spicy cusabi sauce for dipping. Joe’s chopped salad is also a winner, as it’s full of fresh, local ingredients—tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, red onion, delicious fennel, tiny bocconcini mozzarella balls with a delectable white balsamic vinaigrette. The salad is a great choice to break up some of the heavier comfort BBQ food.
For our main course, we tried the brisket platter—an enormous portion of thick, smoky Angus beef brisket that was tender and juicy. You could see the ring of smoke around the meat, and I reveled in the crispy ends that were just slightly burnt and full of flavor. The platter is loaded up with some favorite BBQ sides: sweet and smoky country-style beans, Joe’s fries, which are ridiculously crispy and perfectly seasoned potatoes (no fake frozen fries here!), slices of refreshing watermelon and coleslaw. This dish should come with a warning—it’s huge! There are no skimpy portions at Joe’s!
The “Paul Bunyan” sandwich was on Joe’s Specials Menu, and it lived up to its big name. The plate was loaded with the most tender lager-braised oxtail and red cabbage, then smothered in gooey Manchego cheese and topped with fresh green apple slices, all on a hearty pretzel bun. It sounds like a mouthful, and it was—the oxtail nearly melted in my mouth and was full of slow-cooked flavor. Paired with the heavenly Manchego cheese and fresh apple slices, this sandwich deserves to be called “special.”
The desserts at Joe’s Garage are not to be passed over, either. We couldn’t resist having the s’mores chocolate mousse, served in a mason jar with layers of decadent mousse, crushed graham crackers and mini marshmallows. We also had to try the wild berry pie, which was overflowing with blueberries, strawberries and blackberries topped with pretty pink strawberry ice cream. Beautiful to look at and even better to eat, my dining partner and I loved this one! We were surprised with another dessert from Chef Brian Burner, a Banana Burrito. He takes bananas and cheesecake, puts them together and wraps them in a flour tortilla, fries them and dusts them with cinnamon sugar and serves them warm with fresh whipped cream. If you don’t see this on the menu, ask your server if they’re making it.
Joe’s Garage and Grill was a pleasant surprise for this foodie. With the comfortable, friendly atmosphere and a delicious eclectic BBQ menu, I’ll certainly be back. Next time, I think I’ll have one of their creative, auto-themed cocktails like the Anti-Freeze or the Riverhead Runner, and I definitely need to try Joe’s Pulled Pork and the St. Louis Ribs. See you there!
Joe’s Garage and Grill is located at 40 Peconic Ave in Riverhead. You can check them out at joesgarageandgrill.com or call 631-591-3330.