by Linda Viertel
“Happiness is the best revenge,” said Jacob Styburski, owner and pitmaster of Irvington’s newest culinary destination and take-out eatery. In fact, he is so passionate about barbecue, Texas-style brisket in particular, that he has named his new place Revenge BBQ (Revenge is his three-year old son’s middle name as well.) This guy is serious!
Styburski honed the display of his hard-won skills throughout March, with pop-up style openings at Revenge, garnering lines around the block. He served his brisket, pork ribs, “dinosaur” beef ribs, and smoked sausage until he sold out. During the month he was able to experiment and find the best meat purveyor, Creekstone Farms for hormone and antibiotic-free meats, and set up shipping his sausage from Kreuz Market, the iconic Lockhart, Texas barbecue haven. Styburski’s mentor, pitmaster Russell Roegels, of Roegels BBQ in Houston, came north to advise and perfect Revenge’s menu.
After Styburski and his wife, Catherine, moved to Irvington three years ago, he started smoking briskets, obsessively. So, she signed him up for Camp Brisket, an intensive two-day course at Texas A&M University where he learned from meat science educators and experienced pitmasters about all aspects of barbecuing brisket, from grading meat and the cow’s anatomy, to fire and smoke management, wood choice, seasoning, carving and knife selection. When he returned, he smoked more brisket for a growing crowd of appreciative friends until opening his own restaurant seemed like the next logical step.
Texas-style brisket, Revenge’s signature offering, is a taste treat that, with each bite, provides a delectable moist portion of meat, a bit of fat, and perfectly salt and peppered bark. “Bark is that deliciously crusty exterior,” the pitmaster explains, “that has been dancing with the smoke for about 15 hours.” Whether customers choose the lean or moist cuts, the flavor profile in each is exceptional, especially when masterfully carved by Styburski and his well-trained staff. Chopped into a brisket sandwich on a Martin’s potato roll (a perfect foil to sop up the juices and a hint of Styburski’s home-made barbecue sauce), Revenge’s brisket is a marvel of taste and texture.
Pork ribs and pulled pork get their own complex rub treatments, emerging from the smoker falling off the bone and with a robust smoky flavor throughout. “Dinosaur” beef ribs, sold by the pound, are enormous – a meal in themselves, and sell out almost immediately.
Styburski said, “I am curious about how to combine flavors and textures. That’s important to us.” So, for his quintessential taste/texture balance, try the triple threat pulled pork sandwich: a combination of provolone cheese, pulled pork, two different sausage types, sauce and home-made coleslaw, topped with potato chips (!) on a Martin’s potato roll. Pickles and onions are preserved in-house, both perfect tart complements to spark your taste buds when diving into Revenge’s rich, smoky meats.
Catherine is in charge of the sides. Her mac and cheese creation includes a delicate combination of Gruyere, American and cheddar cheeses. Her Custard Corn Cakes are her own spin on cornbread. Made with cream, which rises, to the top of the “cake;” it’s a nice bridge between ribs and dessert. If diners have any room left, they should not forget to try her pudding cups: either the traditional banana pudding with vanilla wafers, or her Birthday Cake Cup (cake mixed with vanilla pudding, whipped cream and topped with sprinkles).
“Barbecue brings happiness,” Styburski said, “and, we love Irvington. So we wanted to create a space that is an enjoyable environment where our friends, neighbors and son can be happy through a love of barbecue.” Located in a former pizza parlor, Revenge BBQ was designed by both Styburskis in conjunction with Tarrytown architect Matt Behrens. The owners’ 20 years of design training gives their place a clean industrial aesthetic, warmed by the seasoned barn wood counter and sidewall, sourced and hand-picked by Irvington’s wood expert, Peter Copp.
Revenge’s homegrown operations manager, Valerie Molina, and apprentice pitmaster Jack Licata, plus Irvington high school part-time workers join the Styburskis in creating a welcoming community spot residents are already eager to embrace. “If it’s not perfect,” Styburski noted, “Let us know. Every time you come in, we want the barbecue to be as good as it was last time.” Thus far, he can’t keep the crowds at bay, so he must be doing just fine.
If You Go
48 Main Street, Irvington
Lunch: Tues.-Sun. 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (or until sold out)
Dinner: Friday and Saturday , 5-7:30 (or until sold out).