As we head further into fall, it's normal to start craving warm, filling meals. Oswego's newest restaurant, Piggy's BBQ, Spirits & Gaming, fills this need and more, with some of the best barbecue that I have ever had.
On a rainy afternoon, a guest and I met up at Piggy's, located along Rt. 71, right by the intersection with Washington Street. Opened at the end of September, the narrow restaurant squeezed between Tuscan Tavern and Fitness 24/7, made terrific use of its space, featuring an expansive bar, video gaming area, and comfortable leather-backed seats. Piggy's orange walls and wooden bar and tables create a warm, welcoming atmosphere that still shows a modern flair.
While there is a separate area for video gaming, the machines were not operational when my guest and I visited.
According to their website, owners, Liz and Matt Warren smoke their meats low and slow; 12-14 hours for beef brisket and pork butts, and 4-6 hours for ribs and chicken, using hickory wood. All side dishes are homemade.
As my guest and I are both quite fond of barbecue, we decided to order a wide selection of meats, starting with an appetizer of burnt ends. We followed the burnt ends with a combo meal - recommended to us by our waiter - that featured a half-slab of ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken, mac'n'cheese, coleslaw, brisket and corn bread. This was a good decision on our part, as this gave us the chance to taste several, flavorful, rich and juicy offerings from Piggy's.
My guest may have put it best: "Everything was terribly flavorful."
The pork belly burnt ends were, hands-down, the best I have ever tasted. Five thick cuts of meat with a pleasant and substantial bark were drizzled with honey and house-made barbecue sauce. I could have easily eaten all of them, but that would have been rude. The fat from the pork belly melted in my mouth, and the sweetness of the honey and barbecue sauce went well together, and were balanced well by the sharp flavor of the smoky char.
Soon after, our combo platter was delivered to us, and my guest and I divided up the selections as best as possible, to each enjoy some of the food. While Piggy's doesn't put any sauce on its main course offerings, both my guest and I agreed that none of the meats on our tray needed any sauce (though the mild and spicy sauces were both delicious). Each meat, from the chicken to the ribs, was smoky and rich; the fat melting in our mouths. Each was cooked to perfection, nothing was dry, and everything was perfectly seasoned.
But the highlight of the combo meal, we both agreed, was the brisket, which was possibly the best brisket I've had in my life. Smoky and cooked to perfection, the brisket's natural flavors weren't overwhelmed by anything else, but were well-complimented by the smoky bark. It was all I could do to not eat the entire portion of brisket in one swoop - it was absolutely incredible.
The sides were also well-made; a rich and creamy mac'n'cheese, sweet and light cornbread, and a crisp coleslaw with a creamy sauce. While my guest admitted he was more used to coleslaw made with a red wine vinaigrette, he ate almost all of the coleslaw that came with our meal.
While the prices may make some hesitate, the exceptional quality of the menu items, as well as the sheer volume of meat that comes with an order makes the price well worth the decision to visit Piggy's.
My guest and I were in agreement that everything was delicious and well-made, but neither of us could decide which we liked more - the pork belly burnt ends, or the brisket. We settled on a tie between the two, but I'm absolutely certain that I'll be returning to Piggy's for the burnt ends and brisket. Because when I find BBQ love, it's for life.
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Record Newspapers. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. The Mystery Diner is not intended to be a restaurant critic but does highlight the parts of a dining experience that he/she can recommend.