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Photographer turned pitmaster serving delicious BBQ at Woodstock: Cleveland’s Best Barbecue contest

August 27, 2018

Photographer turned pitmaster serving delicious BBQ at Woodstock: Cleveland’s Best Barbecue contest

LAKEWOOD, Ohio -- After years of taking photos at Memphis in May, one of the world’s largest pork barbecue competitions, Robert Togliatti decided to put his camera to the side and fire up a smoker instead.

After studying with a pitmaster in Austin, Texas, he opened his Lakewood eatery, Woodstock BBQ, in 2016.

“Lakewood needed a good barbecue joint, we were over-run with bars and restaurants, but no really good barbecue,” said Togliatti. “I wanted to have a place where people could gather and have some great food and a good beer.”

Woodstock BBQ 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 Woodstock BBQ on Aug. 22. Scroll down to see our taste test review of its foods.

Woodstock BBQ

Address: 13362 Madison Ave., Lakewood

Phone: 216-226-8828

Website: woodstocksmokejoint.com

Social media

Facebook: facebook.com/woodstockbbq

Instagram: instagram.com/woodstockbbq

How many different kinds of BBQ are on the menu? Seven: Pulled Pork, Brisket, Ribs, Rib Tips, Smoked Turkey, Wings and Jerk Chicken.

How many sauce options? Three: Sweet, Spicy and Jerk.

Best seller: Two-meat sampler (Brisket and Ribs).

Most unique thing on the menu: Memphis BBQ Spaghetti

Specials: One-quarter slab of ribs with fries and slaw for $10 on Tuesdays.

Taste Test Review

cleveland.com reporters Yadi Rodriguez, Brenda Cain, Jane Morice and Kristen Davis, along with celebrity host/comedian Mike Polk, visited Woodstock on Aug. 22.

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.

Ribs: “So tender and with a great seasoning,” said Rodriguez.

“A sweet flavor and very tender,” Davis said.

Smoked Wings: “Delicious rub, no sauce needed on these,” Davis said.

“Loved that the rub created a crispy coating and yet the meat inside was moist,” Cain said.

Jerk Chicken: “What a great blend of seasonings in this rub...and what a great bite that develops,” Cain said.

“Very juicy, with a good kick,” Rodriguez said.

Pulled Pork: “Sadly, I thought it was forgettable,” Cain said.

“I’ve had the pulled pork here before and it’s not my favorite. It’s quite dry and has too much of a peppery aftertaste for me,” Morice said.

Turkey: “I am a big fan of BBQ turkey and this is moist and flavorful,” Morice said.

Brisket: “Very lean, which makes it a little dry, but a great kick in the seasoning,” Davis said.

“Very generous portions and not too fatty,” Cain said.

Sides:

Collard Greens: “These are the best ones I have had on the finalist visits. They aren’t chopped so the larger pieces hold more of the flavor or the meat and seasonings. Also, they aren’t soggy,” Cain said.

“I liked the big pieces, and that they had more of a tang than a smoky flavor,” said Davis.

Broccoli Slaw: “It literally tastes like cole slaw with broccoli instead of cabbage,” said Morice.

“Fresh, but nothing special,” said Rodriguez.

Cole Slaw: “Creamy, but too sweet for my preference,” Davis said.

Baked Beans: “These are definitely unique, made with pineapple, which ramps up the sweetness,” Davis said.

Mac & Cheese: “Not a bad mac (is there such a thing?) but the flavors are not pronounced,” Morice said.

Stuffed Jalapeno: “Crispy bacon covers a creamy center. Yum,” said Davis.

“Delicious crispy bacon covering over a creamy center. Not too hot so everyone can enjoy one,” Cain said.

Memphis BBQ Spaghetti: “I’ve had this at Memphis in May and this version is just as delicious,” Cain said.

Cornbread: “Unique with kernels of corn backed into it. Sweet and dense,” Davis said.

“Too sweet and too spongy, though I did like that it had corn in it,” Morice said.

Sauces:

Sweet: “Sweet, but not too sweet so that it overwhelms the meats,” Morice said.

“More savory than sweet, according to my taste buds,” Cain said.

Spicy: “Nice kick that develops slowly,” Rodriguez said.

“Very similar to the sweet, but with some hot peppers added,” Davis said.

Jerk: “This is a great new flavor profile for BBQ,” said Davis.

“Wow! This was way too hot for me,” Cain said.

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