Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

First Look: Smoke's New Lawrenceville Location

At long last, Jeff Petruso and Nelda Carranco again are churning out the Tex-Mex-style tacos Pittsburghers crave.




PHOTO BY HAL B. KLEIN
 

It’s hard to keep a secret in Pittsburgh. Case in point: Nelda Carranco and Jeff Petruso, owners of Smoke bbq taqueria, thought they might be able to open their new Lawrenceville location on the down-low.
 
“We thought that we’d just open quietly by telling a few friends. We didn’t announce it on social media,” Carranco says. They didn’t even put up a sign outside the restaurant, which is located on Butler Street next to Row House Cinema.
 
However, Pittsburgh’s anticipation for Smoke’s Texas-style-BBQ-meets-a-taco cuisine had been building since Carranco and Petruso closed their Homestead restaurant more than nine months ago. So word got out quickly that they’d reopened. Last Wednesday night, the wait for a table was more than an hour. On Sunday night, they stopped accepting names for the waitlist by 7:30.
 


PHOTO BY LAURA PETRILLA


Long waits have always been my — and others' — primary concern with Smoke. Carranco says that she’s aware that it sometimes can take some time to get everyone’s food out but that as Smoke staffs up (they’re still understaffed by a few people both front and back of house), the wait time should decrease.
 
“In their head, people think it’s just a taco, that it’s just street food, so it should take seconds to get to their plate after they order. But it’s not that. We’re making everything from scratch,” Carranco says.
 
What they’re making is fantastic. The menu, for now, basically is the same as what they were serving at the original location — though Carranco says that it’ll keep building in the future.
 
Meats are smoked in a new, massive J & R Manufacturing Oyler Pit BBQ. 

“It’s an amazing machine,” says Petruso. He says that he even smuggled one of Smoke’s briskets down to Mesquite, Texas, to test the smoker, which can cook up to 1,000 pounds of meat at a time.
 
Australian Wagyu beef briskets and Berkshire pork shoulders spend up to 14 hours in the smoker. The briskets have the thick, sweet, salty bark that’s the telltale sign of beautiful barbecue. The pork’s fat becomes an ingredient, melting into the meat and smoke.
 
Smoke joins Gaucho Parrilla Argentina and Thin Man Sandwich Shop in that much-needed category of from-scratch restaurants selling excellent food at an affordable price. I do hope that they’ll quickly figure out a way to improve their systems and decrease wait time, but I’m also willing to be a little patient while Carranco and Petruso find their footing in the new location.
 
“I’m starting to realize that every day here in Lawrenceville is a Friday or a Saturday in Homestead,” Carranco says.
 
For the moment, your best bet is to aim for a weekday lunch or arrive early for dinner.
 
4115 Butler St., Lawrenceville; twitter.com/smokebbqtacos; hours: Mon/Wed/Thu 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sat/Sun 10 a.m.-11 p.m., closed Tue

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

The Summer Movies in the Park Are Awesome This Year

The City of Pittsburgh's annual Cinema in the Park series returns with another summer of free outdoor movies for all.

7 Storylines Which Will Define and Determine Steelers' Season

An unfamiliar underdog status may help the Steelers get back to the playoffs and beyond.

Can't Miss Concerts in Pittsburgh in June

This month's lineup includes Ariana Grande, Hiss Golden Messenger and a full slate at the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

June 2019: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

Joe Morrison Takes the Director's Chair at Pittsburgh Filmmakers

After years of uncertainty, the cinemas of Pittsburgh Filmmakers now have a leader with experience building and engaging audiences.

Unlock Special View of Pittsburgh for a Limited Time

Attention all boaters! The locks on the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers will open most summer weekends, allowing you to visit sights you couldn’t get to before.

Get To Liberty Magic to See the Excellent Billy Kidd

The British magician's new show, "Bridging the Gap," brings theatricality and surprising performance to the parlour-magic stage.

The 400-Word Review: The Perfection

Netflix's troubling new thriller stars Allison Williams and Logan Browning.

Undercover: What We're Reading in June

Reviews of “I”: New and Selected Poems by Toi Derricotte and Regular Hauntings: New and Previous Poems by Gerald Costanzo.

What Are You Doing to be Like Mister Rogers on 1-4-3 Day?

Pennsylvania names May 23 as 1-4-3 Day to celebrate its favorite neighbor.

The 400-Word Review: Aladdin

Disney's live-action remake of the '90s hit stars Will Smith as the iconic Genie.

Sharing Knives Grows into Sharing Farms

For its third season, the collaborative dinner series at Ace Hotel will celebrate the region’s growers.

A Slice of Pizza Kept Sean McDowell Going in the Early Days

After 41 years in the business, the legendary rock DJ on WDVE has announced his retirement.

This New App Will Help You Track Upcoming Cicada Swarm

Follow Brood VIII, which is expected to have three species of periodical cicadas emerging from the soil as early as this month, on the Cicada Safari App.

Best Restaurants in Pittsburgh in 2019

Our annual roundup of Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants covers a lot of ground. The list of 30 includes everything from fine dining at a resort hotel to a scrappy, farm-to-table breakfast and lunch counter in Bloomfield.