Culinary cage match: Ribs

Stomachs, let's get ready to rumble!

When two mighty men face each other, even after sweat stings their eyes and blood is spilled, sometimes there is no clear winner. In eating, as in boxing, sometimes, as they say, “everyone was a winner tonight, especially the fans.” That’s exactly how you’ll feel after this rib ruckus.

Chef Dewey LoSasso of North One10 plays guitar, recites poetry and has one of the best kitchens in South Florida. He’s won a number of accolades, but it’s his crowd-pleasing rib starter that stands out. Simply put, his BBQ lamb spare ribs ($9) are at once uncannily sloppy and genteel. All ribs are sloppy to some extent, but eating them in a white-tablecloth restaurant, however casual and neighborhood-y, almost feels naughty. Maybe it’s the elegance of the unexpected lamb chop taste when you gnaw off a piece of the super-succulent ribs, combined with the slippery bands of tasty, smoky fat. Their crispy exterior, crusted with some semi-tart pomegranate BBQ sauce, makes every mouthful a sophisticated yet downhome, smoky treat. Pair it with bartender Amanda’s ‘General,’ a cocktail made from Jack Daniel’s, amaretto and ginger ale, and you have a southern treat with a decidedly Miami twist.

Ben Nelson, aka Fat Man, has also won some awards. He claims ‘Best Of…’ victories in Florida and Louisiana for his BBQ ribs ($23-rack). They’re cooked with indirect heat for several hours in his enormous hickory wood smoker, and even though his customers may get impatient, he’ll serve no rib before its time. When the ribs are done, there may be ‘Tenderoni,’ which are marinated, then smoked, then marinated again, then smoked some more; or ‘St. Louis’ style, which are smaller ribs (not baby backs, though) so moist and meaty you have to be careful of ‘Rib Frenzy’ – a condition coined by one of Fat Man’s best customers that means you can’t stop eating them until you lose consciousness. His BBQ sauce has a hint of mango, which cools down the smokiness without getting in the way of the ribs’ richness.

Dewey’s Home Made Hot Sauce versus Fat Man’s BBQ Sauce and the Chicken Wing Battle Royale will have to wait for another brawl. In the meantime, with haute restaurant food at $9 and haute street food at $23, has the world gone topsy-turvy? For now, let’s call it a draw; a puzzling, yet delicious, draw…

And the winner is…

Both. North One10’s BBQ lamb spare ribs are a sophisticated yet downhome, smoky treat, while Fat Man’s ribs are so moist and meaty you just might go into a ‘Rib Frenzy.’
North One10, 11052 Biscayne Blvd.; 305-893-4211; Fat Man’s Bar-B-Que & Chicken, outside Take One Lounge, 333 NE 79th St.; 954-536-0465