There’s a lot of BBQ joints in and around Phoenix with more on the way. It’s one of my favorite foods so it’s always good to see what’s what and who’s who in the BBQ world. More times than not the people are just as good as the food they serve, this is one pit masters journey into the world of BBQ and smoked meats.
I visited Naked BBQ to taste the meats and get the lowdown from Oren Hartman at his Scottsdale location. His affordable smoked meats and friendly service & atmosphere have Oren thinking about expanding his “Eat Naked” philosophy. Not one for the competition circuit he prefers to spend his time at the restaurants or any number of catering events he does with his staff and customers.
He has many friends in the BBQ community in Arizona and from his travels and many come through for a taste.
Growing up in New York there wasn’t much BBQ but college in Madison WI. and living in Chicago helped open his eyes to smoked meats.
Corporate America had Oren travel the country most weeks and not a fan of steakhouse dinners he would visit BBQ pits in the south and mid-west. When a buyout of the company allowed Oren to retire early he knew BBQ was his next career.
After much research and development Oren opened Naked BBQ 4 years ago at Bell Rd. & 23rd Ave. in north Phoenix and a Scottsdale location last year.
Naked BBQ is named as one of the 100 restaurants by Arizona Republic food editor Dominic Armato in his recent article “The Ultimate Guide to Phoenix Restaurants”.
The meats at Naked BBQ
The aromas of the oak and pecan wood capture you right when you walk in the door as you make your way up to the counter and menu board. No surprises here brisket, pulled pork, ribs, sausage, smoked chicken and few sides are all you need. Smoked in a meat carousel for up to 16 hours meats are usually pulled sooner if they tasted the way they should.
Naked is the way your meats arrive with 4 sauces available if you choose to. My first tray arrives with strips of brisket that are moist and have a thin layer of fat and are well smoked. My St. Louis style pork ribs tender and cling to the bone just my bite to help fall off. A side of warm mixed beans have chunks of meat scraps and a tinge of heat. Not a big fan of potato salad only a bite or two and I’ll save the calories for the meats.
Tray two brought 2 kinds of smoked sausage, pulled pork, mac n cheese and creamy & Carolina style cole slaws. The pile of pulled pork was juicy and flavorful.
Sausage is low on my BBQ priority list so it was good to taste the sausage situation. A lingering spiced sausage and a herbed savory link set the bar for me as I’ll have to start to save room for the links. All three sides were emptied as who can’t resist mac & cheese and I’m always craving a good home cole slaw(s).
Friday and Saturday night specials Oren smokes up Prime Rib then Brontosaurus (beef) ribs respectively.
Sauce it up
If you prefer to dress you meats with sauce there are 4 styles to choose from. Sweet, spicy, a North Carolina vinegar and a rarely seen South Carolina mustard sauce will give you a look at regionally diverse sauces.
If you want more heat ask for the hot pepper paste to stir into your sauces. If you dare taste the paste naked with the meat. A few local beers are on tap to help tamper down the heat.
Scouting for other locations to open Naked BBQ, collaborations with other pitmasters & friends and playing around with a retail line of sauces and rubs Oren’s second career tastes better than his first.
The 2 locations of Naked BBQ are..
2340 W. Bell Rd Phoenix 85023 Lunch only Mon. – Fri. 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. or til the meats gone. Fri. & Sat. 11a.m. 8 a.m.
10240 N. 90th St. Suite 105. Scottsdale 85258. Sun – Thurs 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sat. & Sun. til 9 p.m.