Bergenfield, NJ 07621
- Parking: Private Lot
- Take Out: Yes
August 6, 2013
New Jersey has plenty of BBQ beyond the American classics. For ethnic barbecue, Filipino family-style, head to Bergenfield’s New Barbecue Pit.
Filipino lechón – whole roast pig – is Carlos Cancio’s passion. Cancio, born in Pampanga, on the northern shore of Manila Bay, worked multiple jobs after immigrating to the United States as a young man. While delivering packages for DHL in New Jersey, Carlos started experimenting with different ingredients and techniques to perfect his Filipino barbecue. He began roasting whole pigs in his garage, first in Livingston, then in Jersey City, and developed quite a loyal following. Now “retired,” six years ago, he opened the New Barbecue Pit in Bergenfield where four of his six children are involved in the family business.
Filipino lechón is typically prepared with a spice mix featuring salt, black pepper, sugar, onion, vinegar and ground pork liver. In Cebu-style versions, the flavors of lemongrass, star anise and bananas are added by stuffing the pig before roasting. In the Philippines, the traditional method is to cook a whole adult pig outside on a spit over burning wood. The pig is basted periodically to create the crispy, ocher-colored skin that is the hallmark of a Filipino lechón.
Carlos Cancio will not reveal his lechón spices and tricks. You can taste the results of his self-taught barbecue education, however, at the New Barbecue Pit, a small restaurant with a few tables inside and a bustling take-out business. The lechón has succulent meat with chunks attached to beautifully crispy skin. It is delicious served with a side of garlic or jasmine rice. The flavor is slightly sweet, as is the lechón sauce for marinating and dipping that Carlos serves and sells by the bottle. Add a squirt of homemade chile sauce from the bottles on the table if you want it spicier. At $9 for a pound of meat, this is a barbecue bargain. While he will not divulge his secret for achieving a crispy skin on every pig he cooks, Carlos is quick to share advice and life lessons. “Failure makes you wise,” he noted while explaining his efforts to master Filipino roast pig.
According to Carlos’ son, Louie Cancio, who mans the kitchen at the New Barbecue Pit, Christmas is peak season for whole lechón orders. They roast as many as sixty pigs a day for family celebrations during the Holidays, working all night long to meet the demand. The rest of the year, they make around ten pigs each weekend. Depending on the size, a thirty to forty-five pound whole pig costs between $180 and $200 dollars.
The New Barbecue Pit also serves Filipino specialties like pancit (stir-fried rice noodles), embotido (Filipino meatloaf), and lumpia (fried spring rolls). Chicken, ribs and pulled pork round out the menu for American BBQ fans. In fact, this Bergen County Filipino barbecue spot attracts mostly non-Filipino customers. Not surprising, given the Cancio family’s attention to good barbecue.
What makes Filipino barbecue special? According the elder Cancio, “You blend the flavors with your heart and mind.”
New Barbecue Pit
Bergenfield, NJ 07621