Big Fatty's BBQ
- 55 Main Street, Burlington, VT, 05401
(Published in 7 Nights 2008-09)
At Big Fatty's BBQ on Main Street in Burlington, the servers wear black T-shirts that read, "Be nice to me, I pull your pork" — even the cornbread and hush puppies contain piggy products. That's how owner Clay Vagnini — Big Fatty himself — likes it. The florid Floridian isn't here to appease the politically correct.
He's here to cook up some old-fashioned barbecue. Even "dry," the ribs are tender and fragrant. "Wet" ones are pretty messy. "That's why God created hoses and paper towels," says Vagnini.
The spicy, homemade "wet" sauce — sold at the counter by the bottle — also shows up on the pulled pork, which comes in "biblical portions." Other proteins at Fatty's include fried catfish and Texas brisket, which is slow-cooked for nearly 24 hours and served only on Wednesday. It's melt-in-your-mouth tender with caramelized edges and luxuriant fatty bits, infused with the essence of hickory smoke.
The saucy and perfectly toothsome baked beans, featuring five different legumes, have a good amount of cinnamon in the mix along with the obligatory chunks of salt pork. You'll find more of those chunks in the collards, which are served up with a wealth of "pot likker."
For all its daring dishes, Big Fatty's scores its most startling success with a simple one: Chicken, often the blandest meat on the menu, is a triumph here. Brined in a bath of water, salt, sugar and herbs, the bird is slow-smoked for three hours. It emerges with deep brown skin but juicy, flavor-infused flesh — no sauce required. Eaters worried about cholesterol counts or "food miles" should probably steer clear of Big Fatty's. Warning: There's another location in Hartford. But anyone looking for a pound of flesh with a side of irreverence has come to the right place.