4847 Merrick Road
Massapequa Park, NY 11762
|Photo credit: Dee C. on Yelp.com|
The place looks modern with its tall ceilings, exposed beams, red brick walls and multi-level seating. Their smoke pit straight back with a glowing neon sign above it makes you feel like you'll be right in the barbecuing action. A great (yet small) thing Smokin' Al's took into consideration, an oversight by many restaurants, is that people will be getting their hands messy! They took care of that by placing a roll of paper towels on each table which I can really appreciate.
Smokin' Al's has tons of menu items to choose from and everything comes in absolutely huge portions. Appetizers are plentiful, but also priced as such. Just expect your jaw to drop when you see the haystack of onions. You can get any of their meats in a variety of ways from topped on a salad, piled on a baked potato, sandwiches, ribs, platters and combos, sliced, chopped--endless possibilities. They also have traditional southern sides from baked beans, collard greens, mac and cheese, fresh cut regular fries and sweet potato fries to name a few. It sounds great on paper, but the execution is at times lackluster. Ribs, albeit great tasting, tend to be lacking some meat and are not fall-off-the-bone. The pulled pork and chicken is great but I have to say if you order it, don't expect them to taste any different from each other. Same thing goes for the brisket (chopped) as well because all three meats are drenched in their BBQ sauce. Speaking of the brisket, you don't find a nice smoke ring which indicates it is not really slow cooked as long as they claim. The BBQ chicken also tastes great but is a bit dry so I'd suggest using one of their BBQ sauces. I haven't tried all of their sides but the fries could be cooked a little longer because they're not necessarily crispy. The two best sides are definitely the mac and cheese and the corn bread. The corn bread is exactly what you'd expect of a typical but great southern corn bread. Great for sopping up meat drippings or BBQ sauce but stands great on its own as well.
As for the prices, they are definitely high for what it is. Granted, portions are huge and food is enough to share (but be prepared for a sharing charge if you do) or take home for an extra meal. If you aren't particular to leftovers, you'll most likely have a lot of wasted food on your plate. I also can't see spending nearly $20 on a salad or $5 on a single corn on the cob. If this place offered authentic southern BBQ that is cooked in the traditional way, low and slow, that just melts in your mouth and falls off the bone, then fine you can justify the price. Add the average food to average service and Smokin Al's becomes a "once in a blue" type of restaurant. Maybe we will give it another chance but we prefer the chain Famous Dave's when it comes to food, price and service.