For this year’s Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship (our photos and some thoughts here), they had several more barbecue trucks than they did last year. This, in turn, allowed Speedy and I to check out a couple more Charlotte-area barbecue vendors that we hadn’t been able to try yet. It may be harsh to judge each of these vendors based on their output at a barbecue festival, but nonetheless here’s some of our quick thoughts on the two sandwiches that we both tried that day.
Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ – Belmont, NC (link)
Pork sammy – 3 hogs
Monk: Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ has won a lot of competition trophies on the Memphis Barbecue Network, including grand champion of last year’s version of the Q City Championship (when it was a Memphis Barbecue Network event; this year it was sanctioned by the NC BBQ Association). From what I can tell, they mostly do private events and catering, so this was a fairly rare opportunity to try their barbecue. Their pulled pork sandwich was coarsely pulled pork strands as opposed to chopped and had decent smoke. But ultimately I found it a little dry unless I added their eastern style sauce, which I dashed on before leaving their truck and sitting elsewhere. Not bad, but I wasn’t blown away like I was hoping from such an accomplished barbecue competition team.
Speedy: I actually didn’t notice the sauce before leaving the truck, so I had to do without. Like Monk, I found it to be a little dry and a little lacking on the flavor. At the end of the day, competition barbecue is so different than churning out a bunch of sammies for a festival crowd. I just feel like it this setting, vendors should pick a flavor and go with it instead of having festival goers choose and sauce their own sandwich.
Rocky Top BBQ Co. – Monroe, NC (link)
Pork sammy – 3 hogs
Speedy: The Rocky Top BBQ Company is a catering and competition team out of Monroe, NC. They’ve been competing since 2009 and have even appeared on BBQ Pitmasters. Monk and I both ordered the barbecue sandwich from Rocky Top as well. I thought the sandwich was pretty good, but not great. I did enjoy it more than Ranucci’s – it was sauced, so dryness wasn’t an issue. It did taste a bit sweeter than I am accustomed to, so I probably would prefer a little more vinegar-y tang. Overall, I thought it was enjoyable.
Monk: To me, something was a little off on this sandwich, texture-wise. And I agree with Speedy on the sauce being a little sweeter than I’d like. Of the two sandwiches I tasted, I preferred Ranucci’s to this one, but as you can tell neither knocked my socks off.