I had to set aside my biases and go against my gut instincts as I walked up to this black and gold hole-in-the-wall. I am fairly certain I am the only Eagles fan who has ever dared to set foot in this Pittsburgh take-out restaurant. I felt like I was crossing a picket line--just look at the building- it's a little too much. But the smell of barbeque overcame me, making me throw all reason out the window. If this wasn't worth the whole trip to Pittsburgh, it was definitely worth the trip downtown in Friday rush hour traffic.
We set out to try Mama's ribs, but they weren't ready, so we sampled pulled pork and chicken with several sides. The pork is to die for- it's juicy and spicy without having to add any hot sauce.
The chicken was delicious, also spicy- we loved the flavors. Most restaurants stick a bottle of hot sauce on the table and leave it up to you. Mama's food comes out already hot, which was a hit with our crowd. The taste of the meat was enhanced by the sauce, and the spice was just enough to give it a good kick, making you crave that next bite!
The sides were all good, but nothing could hold a candle to the pulled pork. This only made me long to try the ribs, which I'll do on my next trip. CBS recently featured Big Mama's on The Early Show as part of the Small Businesses, Big Rescues story. It looks like after a rough first year, Mama and her team got some training and publicity, a little luck, and are here to stay. Mama dreams of making the restaurant a sit-down eatery, and even a restaurant/jazz club.
Mama's cooking does come from the soul, as you'll find out after one bite of any of her dishes. This isn't food that is whipped up without thought and care-- the savory, smoky flavors, secret "Steel City Soppin' Sauce" ingredients and slow cooked barbeque are comforting and deeply soulful. I do pray Mama sees her dream and is able to move to a new location with a sit-down restaurant/jazz club, I just hope that the outside of the building has a better color scheme...and the eggs.