Are you sitting down now? Okay, we’ll wait . . . you’re gonna need to brace yourselves with this one. Master Pitmaster Nestor Laracuente is getting ready to open a new bbq spot right in Stamford, CT. The spot, Mason Dixon Smokehouse, is located right in the Columbus Park area where Gastro Bar (78 W. Park Pl.) is right now. And, the man behind it all, Nestor, is dying to get started and be back in CT. That’s Nestor aka Brooklyn Pit Rat aka pitmaster who helped place Hometown BBQ and Hoodoo Brown BBQ on the top of list after list.
“The menu will be fun . . . we’re gonna crush it,” Nestor shared with Dan during a visit at Mason Dixon Smokehouse. His eyes lit up and his enthusiasm burst over as he shared all of his ideas and the plans for his new spot that he’s opening with brothers Carlos, Alejandro, and Mario Lopez . . . no, not that Mario Lopez. They also own Bianco Rosso in Wilton and the newly opened Craft 14 Kitchen + Bar, also in Wilton.
Taking out a notebook, Nestor leafed through his ideas, diagrams, and arsenal of recipes for the restaurant. So, here’s a breakdown of some things to expect, items that will be on the menu, opening plans, and more. Oh, and don’t think that what you see is everything: Nestor has a smokerload of dishes (including deconstructed recipes) that will blow your freaking mind. He’s gonna dish ’em out on opening day and roll out more soon after.
Nestor and his all-star pit crew will be manning an off-site smoker that’s just a few minutes away (more on this below). Coming out of the two smokers (more will likely be needed as this place will be slammed 24/7) will be some of his classics like pork belly, lamb, brisket, Boston butt, and new favorites like smoked jerk chicken wings with a sauce that you’ll sell your children for and chorizo baby back ribs among others. Plus, Nestor shared that he’ll be featuring two meats on the menu that you can’t find this side of the country. Oh. hell. yeah.
And, what would a good BBQ joint be without solid sides? There’s a helluva lot planned out like classics, but also bone marrow butter on bread, cherry carrot salad that features cherries macerated in Grand Marnier, dirty rice, and pan roasted Brussels sprouts.
Dessert will also be a must-have when you stop by Mason Dixon. Nestor is bringing along some of his favorites, but also has a few major surprises that he has been perfecting over the past few months. Some of the sweets that you’ll soon be devouring are banana cream pudding, pink lemonade custard pie, and the triple chocolate dirt cup.
Oh, and the liquor will be flowing . . . get ready! Mason Dixon Smokehouse will have an amazing variety of whiskey, bourbon, moonshine, and cocktails for when you want to drink aka every damn day. Also, expect to see rotating taps that will feature 4 CT craft brews and 4 other taps for non-Nutmeg craft beer.
Then, right around springtime, Mason Dixon Smokehouse will most likely open for brunch. Expect even more amazing food like specialty cocktails and country-style ribs that will taste like you’re eating breakfast sausage. We wish we could share more of the recipes that Nestor has planned, but you’ll just need to wait on those and dream.
The restaurant will be opening up mid-November, which is just a short month and a half away. There is a possibility to open earlier, but they are just waiting on setting up the smokers. Once those are in place at their off-site location, they should be open two weeks after. Oh, and if you’re wondering why they’re not smoking on-site, there’s a bit of a story behind it. They were approved through every agency and department in Stamford, but there was just one stipulation. If any local neighbors complained about the smoke, then it’d have to go. Considering being all around apartment buildings, Nestor and his partners knew they needed a safe solution and didn’t want to bother their neighbors. Having an off-site pit is actually pretty common with other restaurants in urban areas.
We really can’t say enough about Nestor’s food—both BBQ and sides. Without any doubt, he put out the best brisket and beef ribs that we’ve ever had. We count ourselves lucky that we just moved back to Stamford over the summer and we’ll be so damn close. We can foresee that the Mason Dixon Smokehouse will be a real gamechanger in downtown Stamford and will add in some much needed culinary chops (in both senses of the phrase) to the area.
Until the opening, make sure you’re following Nestor on Insta.