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Restaurant Review: The Pit BBQ Grille

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: The Pit BBQ Grille
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In terms of scratching the summertime barbecue itch, The Pit BBQ Grille is a worthy destination. The joint made its debut on Cleveland Avenue less than a year ago, a project involving a crew of former OSU football players.

College football seems like a promising marketing angle in Columbus, but guests at the eatery wouldn’t guess the connections without doing a little pre-game research. The Pit BBQ Grille looks like a traditional barbecue place; a cross between strip-mall and woodsy-hide-out with a classic counter ordering system. The only hint to its distinguished proprietorship was the sighting of a suspiciously sturdy staffer with an athlete’s wide back and thick legs.

And while ribs are the first thing that comes to mind with a “BBQ” moniker (we’ll get to those, soon enough), the joint is pretty dang proud of its award-winning Polish Boy ($5.99). For the uninitiated, a Polish Boy is kielbasa, french fries, barbecue sauce and coleslaw on a bun. In classic fashion, the award-winner at Pit is built on a traditional dewy bun, the sausage is supremely lean and mean and hits hard in the spice department. It’s topped with soft french fries, sauce and a wilted slaw that’s made with shreds of dark greens in a sweet slaw dressing. Clearly, the greens make the whole thing healthy. Indeed, the combo is delightful.

Being an equal opportunity establishment, it also offers Polish Girls, er, Polish Girl Sandwiches. While not award-winning, they offer a similar experience, with pulled pork replacing the sausage.

About the ribs: respectable. Actually, a table-mate declared them “amazing,” but everything is “amazing” today, so that particular praise was difficult to parse. They’re lean ribs, with lots of meat and a good cure teamed with a dose of smoke. The house has a tangy sauce that shakes things up in a way that compliments the meat, instead of overwhelming it (a full slab is $22.99).

There’s also a Chicken Philly Sandwich ($6.99). It gets a mixed reception. An order provides lots of chunks of grilled chicken, onions, mushrooms and melted cheese. Companions gave it high marks, but personal expectations were for something that seemed more BBQ-influenced. It comes off more like a loaded grilled chicken sandwich that you can score from just about anywhere.

Pit Fries ($4.99) provide excellent value. They are not just french fries, but french fries burdened with the glorious weight of a mountain of sweet pulled pork and shredded cheese. The dish is meaty enough to make a respectable, if heavy-hitting, lunch.

In the side department ($2.75): Big Baby’s Baked Beans are recommended, they’re a purist’s beans, sitting in a tasty sauce that takes them beyond starch puddles. Mildred’s Mac and Cheese is baked with the little crunchy bits, comforting and lovable. The Greens seem to be popular with diners, but the tested version missed the bus; it had a surprise bone, and practically more meat than greens. The meat-to-greens issue might actually be why the side is popular, but there’s gotta be some other people out there who actually like and seek vegetables.

You can find The Pit Barbecue Grille at 3545 Cleveland Ave.

For more information, visit thepitcolumbus.com/restaurant.

All photos by Lauren Sega.

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