Close to a year ago, chef and restaurateur Frank Bonanno, whose colony of collections already included Mizuna, Osteria Marco, Luca D'Italia and Bones, inked a lease on a mammoth, 6,000-square-foot down-reaching space in Larimer Square that soon became the dwelling pads to Wednesday's Pie, a one-day-a-week pie parlor, and Green Russell, a sultry speakeasy (Lou's Food Bar, located at 1851 West 38th Avenue, opened on the last day of 2010).
But both Wednesday's Pie and Green Russell are petite, which left Bonanno with more than enough sphere to stretch. Initially, he was using the extra space for banquets and private parties, but, admits Bonanno, "it wasn't as easy to book parties as we initially thought, because a lot of people don't like to have events downstairs."
Barbecue, however, is a whole different dalliance. It doesn't matter where it's served: If it's good barbecue (hell, even when it's not), you can count on an influx of hungry mouths, and if it's Frank Bonanno behind the smoker, there's even more incentive to follow the primal char of brawny brisket and burnt ends. And when Bonanno opens Russell's Smokehouse in November, just adjacent to Wednesday's Pie and Green Russell, it's a good bet that he'll be feeding bulging crowds.
"It's going to be very simple," says Bonanno, "with a few different kinds of ribs, some fish dishes, brisket, fried chicken, pork shoulder, a couple of salads, and a bunch of different sides, including collard greens, cornbread, mac-and-cheese, mashed potatoes, sweet potato fries, several different kinds of beans and citrus corn, and, of course, pie." In addition, he'll pour sweet tea and lemonade and a formidable selection of beers -- on tap, in the bottle and in cans. And while Russell's Smokehouse will also kick out cocktails, Bonanno notes that those, too, will be simple. "We're not going to concentrate on cocktails here; Green Russell already does a great job with those."
As for the barbecue, Bonanno is currently on the prowl for two gas-injected smokers, which will take up residence in the gigantic kitchen that will serve both Green Russell and the Smokehouse. But in the event that you're hoping for Kansas City-style barbecue, Texas barbecue, or any other kind of preconceived barbecue, Bonanno says that's not his shtick. "I'm not doing traditional barbecue, or Texas barbecue, or Kansas City barbecue, or St. Louis-style barbecue," he insists. "I'm doing barbecue my way -- casual and fun and making use of a lot of rubs rather than sauces, and while there's a lot of good barbecue around here, it's mostly served on paper plates with wet wipes, and I want to do something nicer and little more high-end than that -- a sit-down place with a bar, real plates and napkins."
The entrance to the smokehouse will be down the same stairs as Wednesday's Pie and Green Russell, but the hours will be far more expansive. Russell's Smokehouse will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
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