Down home southern cuisine the hallmark at Open Pitt Barbeque Carryout: Cleveland’s Best BBQ contest
CLEVELAND, Ohio – One word to describe Open Pitt Barbeque Carryout is “family.”
Malinda Rivers came to Cleveland from her native Alabama to work for General Electric. After a stint with the industrial giant, Rivers decided her time working for somebody else should come to an end.
She loved to cook -- especially grilling -- and decided the small carry-out service on St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland was a good fit for her skills and for her young family. Most of the kids grew up working at the eatery after school and on weekends. And most of them continued to work there into adulthood.
But family doesn’t end with blood relationships. She said employees are treated the same as her children. Also, many of Rivers’ present-day customers grew up eating her food and still stop by weekly for an order of ribs or wings.
“That’s just the way it is here,” Rivers said. “We are all family, whether you are related by blood, work here or just come in to grab a lunch. Sooner or later, you get adopted.”
Open Pitt is one of 20 finalists in Cleveland’s Best Barbecue contest. Each establishment was nominated, and then voted into the finals, by our readers. We invite you to vote for your favorite BBQ joint once daily through Aug. 28. The poll resets each morning at 9 a.m.
We visited Open Pitt Barbeque Carryout on Aug. 17. Scroll down to see our taste test review of its foods.
Open Pitt Barbeque Carryout
Address: 12335 St. Clair Ave., Cleveland
How many different kinds of BBQ are on the menu? Six: Pork and Beef Ribs, Rib Tips, Wings, Pork Chops and Chicken.
How many sauce options? One
Best sellers: Ribs and Wings
Most unique thing on the menu: Pig’s Feet
Specials: Wing Wednesday. (The store averages sales of 8,000 wings each Wednesday).
Taste Test Review
Cleveland’s Best reporters Yadi Rodriguez, Brenda Cain and Kristen Davis, along with celebrity host/comedian Mike Polk, visited Butch’s Saloon on Aug. 17.
At each of the finalist restaurants, we’re sampling all kinds of barbecue, including ribs, pulled pork, brisket and chicken -- as well as many sides and a dish the restaurant felt was its best or most unique offering.
Pork Ribs: “Great traditional barbecue – very old-school, yet distinctly delicious,” Polk said.
“Tons of meat on these ribs. Great smoky flavor,” said Rodriguez.
Beef Ribs: “Huge and meaty,” Davis said.
“Deep, hearty beef taste. Sauce complements it well,” Rodriguez said.
Rib Tips: “These were my favorite. Great cuts of well-cooked meat. Smoky, juicy, magnificent,” Polk said.
“Tender with a good char and a great smoky taste,” Cain said.
Pulled Pork: “Moist, juicy and tender. A little overcome by the toppings and the sauce,” Cain said.
“Moist and meaty,” Rodriguez said.
Chicken Wings: “These were a legit taste sensation. Fried to perfection to keep them juicy on the inside, and the sauce really made them sing,” Polk said.
“Probably one of my favorite things here. Great batter with a great crisp texture. I can see why they sell so many,” Rodriguez said.
Polish Boy: “Loaded with toppings, and yet the meat had a nice bite,” Rodriguez said.
“Loved the traditional taste of this true Cleveland sandwich,” Cain said.
Cole Slaw: “Nicely shredded and crisp veggies, but a little too heavy on the mayo for my taste,” Rodriguez said.
“Very traditional flavor, just like my mom would have made,” Polk said.
Mac & Cheese: “Billowy and creamy, dense and comforting. This is like having a warm hug from an old friend,” Polk said.
“Homemade for sure,” Davis said.
Baked Beans: “A real winner with plenty of chunks of smoky meat and a sweet tangy sauce,” Cain said.
“Sweet sauce with thick chunks of meat. Delicious,” said Davis.
Corn Bread: “This was just delicious. A true southern flavor and texture,” said Cain.
“Heavy and heavenly, all at the same time. Truly satisfying,” Polk said.
Sauce: “Memorable and distinctive. Sweet, not too much heat, and yet delicious,” said Polk.
“This sauce goes well with everything,” said Davis.