Gina and Pat Neely, from Food Network’s cooking show “Down Home with the Neelys,” opened their first NYC barbecue restaurant on July 13th in the Upper East Side: Neely’s Barbecue Parlor.
The interior resembles a house with southern décor. There are separate rooms with a different feel. I dined in their dining room which overlooks the entrance and the hot red chandelier. There’s even a room with its own fireplace (that’s my favorite room). Some dining rooms can be blocked off for private events.
On to the food – On the menu are southern-style appetizers, barbecue plates and entrees. To name a few: Hickory Smoked Chicken Wings, Fried Green Tomatoes, Ribs, Chicken Fried Steak and sandwiches. And don’t forget the typical sides like macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and black-eyed peas.
Seated with a bunch of pork lovers, we shared a couple appetizers: Candied Thick Cut Slab Bacon and Pulled Pork Hushpuppies. Despite the description (Brown sugar coated and slow baked until it’s crispy), the bacon was served cold and chewy in a small mason jar. The hushpuppies were good, but a bit too doughy, and were also served cold.
The entrees make up for the cold appetizers. BBQ Plates are served with your choice of one side. We tried the Pork Sampler Platter for $21.95. The platter comes with portions enough to share among two people: Spare ribs, baby back ribs, and pulled pork. All were delicious, but the pulled pork stood out the most – chunks of white meat pork seasoned to perfection and served somewhat dry (not soaking in barbecue sauce). On the table are several bottles of barbecue sauce: original, sweet, and spicy. My favorite was the spicy – which was not too spicy. Just squeeze a little bit of sauce on your pork, and you’re good to go.
Of the sides, I tried Gina’s Collard Greens and Macaroni & Cheese. Both were fantastic, though the macaroni & cheese was a clear winner. Who doesn’t like mac n cheese?
On the drinks menu are specialty cocktails, like the Memphian (made with Jack Daniels & Grey Goose) and a small selection of beer available by the bottle, ½ pint, pint, ½ gallon, and gallon. No joke on the last 2 sizes. A ½ gallon container of beer is enough for 2 people.
Side note: If you want to unwind after dinner and are a cigar afficionado, head to Merchants NY Cigar Bar which is located in the lower level. Interestingly, they’ve got a non-smoking room too.
Would I come back? Maybe after a couple months. They’ve got a few kinks to work on. Waiting for a table to open up, although we made reservations a week in advance wasn’t good. I find it odd to get cold hot appetizers a few minutes after ordering them, and drinks come way after. Should be the other way around. At least the barbecue was hot.