Wharton, NJ 07885
August 1, 2015
Smoking up a storm in Morris County, NJ, Hot Rods Real Pit BBQ is deservedly one of Jersey’s best barbecue joints.
Just off of Route 80 on Main Street into Wharton, NJ, Hot Rods Real Pit BBQ occupies the large brick building under the water tower straddling the Rockaway River. Retro auto art decorates the comfortable bar and dining room where barbecue fans enjoy just about everything that emerges from the huge revolving shelf smoker.
Order the smoked BBQ wings to start, Hot Rods’ signature item. The wings are dry-rubbed, smoked for three hours, flash fried and served with your choice of sauce. The “sweet and spicy” sauce hits just the right balance. These wings are good enough, however, with a thoroughly smoky flavor, to eat alone, which we did. Each of the meats we tried has a different flavor profile, a good sign for barbecue. The pulled pork is more tangy than sweet.The beef brisket is solidly smoked and charred, though the sandwich comes with a little too much sauce for my taste.
An unexpected surprise are the chicken empanadas, with saucy shredded smoked chicken flavored with green chilies. Kudos also for the baked beans on the side, which are not sickly sweet like most places. We didn’t have room to sample the baby back ribs, but they also get good reviews. The menu even includes a few “Tex-Mex” items, like fish tacos; as well as burgers; fried chicken and meatloaf.
Nothing goes better with BBQ than beer, of course. Hot Rods has a very good craft beer list that includes local brews like Magnify Black Wheat (Fairfield, NJ) and Kane Single Fin Belgian-style Blonde Ale (Ocean Township, NJ).
We’ll definitely return for the wings. Hot Rods is also known for their smoked clams during the summer – Littlenecks steamed in Yuengling beer and BBQ sauce. Sounds like another good reason to head up to Wharton, NJ before Labor Day.