Hot Brisket Alert in Hawthorne: After twenty years at Opus 465 in Armonk, Pleasantville’s Chef Mark Mazzarulli has “gone Talladega” and reinvented himself as an authentic Southern BBQ smoke-master. So consider this your hot brisket alert!

Send in the Triple D cameras!

Hot Brisket Alert in HawthorneIn September, Mark opened up Three Little Pigs in a former pizza parlor just north of the Hawthorne train station. The “intimate” space seats about 18 at three picnic tables and they specialize in take out, delivery and catering. Sandwiched between Burke Heat and S&L Collision, Three Little Pigs has The Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins & Dives written all over it. And so does the bark on Mark’s smoked barbecue brisket.

Here’s the (dry) rub…

“I’ve always done barbecue New York style with all the heavy sauces,” Mark told us. “But you can’t get authentic dry rub Southern barbecue (where all the meats are smoked) in Westchester.” So about a year ago he bought a smoker and started to work on some basic recipes. “Trial and error is a tough process when you’re smoking meats for 16 hours before you can give it the taste test,” Mark said. But he came up with enough recipes to fill a short menu of pulled pork, pork bellies, local sausage, rotisserie chicken, turkey legs, wings … and that brisket.

Who let the dogs out? This brisket’s got some crazy bark!

Hot Brisket Alert in HawthorneAnd as they say in Texas, it ain’t barbecue if you don’t do brisket. “Brisket is a tough meat so you have to go low and slow,” Mark said. He smokes his brisket for 8 hours and then cooks it for another 8. Mark crushes Rosemary down into a dust and uses it in the brisket rub for his most popular dish. It’s tender and has a bark on it that has to be 1/16th of an inch thick – so good. I could just hear Guy Fieri saying something like “Who let the dogs out? This brisket’s got a crazy bark!” They serve it with a simple jus and all I can say is my Jewish mother in law never made anything like this!

What’s this guy smoking?

Mark uses hickory wood to smoke all his regular menu items. “I’m a big hickory guy,” he said. “It gives a great smoke and really accents the spices.” But he uses apple and cherry wood in his weekly specials. He’ll be serving up a cherry wood smoked salmon for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week in November.

What we liked!

3-little-pigs_one_pigAs “out of bounds”, as Guy Fieri would say, as the brisket was, the ribs were not far behind. We were really happy to learn that they were also a dry rub – we’re just not sweet, gooey, ribs people. If you are, don’t worry they offer up four kinds of barbecue sauces on the side. We really liked the St. Louis Ribs, smoked for 16 hours in a dry rub with cumin and dry mustard. They were well seasoned and fell off the bone on contact. TLP also offers beef ribs made with prime rib and a Brontosaurus Rib that weighs in at upwards of 1¼ pounds.

The rotisserie chicken, marinated in brine and then a barbeque solution, was moist and light. Pork butt lovers will appreciate their pulled pork that is smoked and seasoned only in salt and pepper and served with sauce on the side. And you can’t go wrong with the pork belly.

We also liked the Mac n’ Cheese, the mayo slaw and the banana pudding. The kids loved the fried Twinkies – basically tempura Twinkies. But we missed the baked beans, made with brisket meat instead of pork, the creamed spinach, potato salad and the fryer items like sweet potato fries, steak fries, crispy chick peas, fried pickles, hush puppies and corn fritters.

Order by the pound

We found it easy to order the meats by the quarter, half or whole pound. The rotisserie chicken and ribs are offered half or whole. We would have liked to order the sides by the half pint, pint or quart rather than small, medium or large. But who’s counting?

What To Do?

whattodo_logoWhile we took out, we could see ourselves dining in for a casual lunch or dinner at their picnic tables. Delivery is currently only offered to Pleasantville, Hawthorne, Valhalla Thornwood and Armonk. Bedford and Chappaqua foodies will have to dine in or take out. But it’s worth the trip if you like authentic dry rub Southern BBQ.

“We also do a pig roast. We can roast at your place, deliver a prepared pig with one of our chefs to serve or you can dine in,” Mark told us. We think it would be fun to dial up a crowd for a pig roast there. You’ll need a party of 20 but at $30 a head it seems like a good deal. They also serve beer and wine. (Three Little Pigs, 481 Commerce St., Hawthorne, 914.747.2480;

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A review by: What to do digital