On the heels of National Barbecue Month, it's clear that barbecue is alive and well in Madison -- at least if the spate of new 'cue joints in town is any indication. The latest addition is Facebook and The Daily Page Forum, running promotional giveaways and answering questions about menu offerings.
Those menu offerings come straight from the Platonic ideal of a barbecue kitchen, with a few flourishes that range from smart to goofy. The standards -- ribs, brisket, pulled pork -- are smoky, delicious and, most notably, dry. Pete's is a dry-rub shop, and while house-made sauce promises to replace the Sweet Baby Ray's currently adorning tables, the default serving style will likely remain sauceless.
Rocket-hot fried green "tamaters", smoked deviled eggs and a sinfully wonderful cob of Mexican street corn are the ample starter options. Sides seem to rotate depending on mood and availability, but expect more smoke. The mashed potatoes and rice both take to a dose of wood fire very well. Perhaps the most rare beast of all, the smoked cheesecake, is allegedly a Pete's invention that seems destined to become a Madison legend regardless of provenance.
Some of our more jaded Madisonians have expressed doubt over the folksy twang demonstrated by the Pete's comments on the forum. I'm guessing it's Patrick doing the typing, because diners at Porky Pine Pete's are left with no doubt: he's an affable and chatty feller, and wants to tell you all about his food. There's an irony in that, as this brand of passionate, no-nonsense barbecue tends to speak for itself.