View Full Version : BBQ in new Jersey?

12-10-2005, 12:01 PM
The pull of BBQ

Garveys' lunch truck a real find in South Amboy
Friday, December 09, 2005BY PETE GENOVESE
Star-Ledger Staff
EAT WITH PETE Garv-A-Que truck Main Street, South Amboy; (908) 902-5132. Hours: 11 a.m. to approximately 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The truck is located one mile from Parkway exit 125, outside downtown South Amboy.

The best discoveries are often the random, unexpected ones.

There I was, driving down the industrial end of Main Street, towards the center of South Amboy. Parked on the side of the road, just past a railroad trestle, was a lunch truck. Big deal. Lunch trucks nearly outnumber fast-food restaurants in the gotta-get-my-grub-to-go Garden State.

This truck, though, was different. Wood-paneled, for one. No ordinary stainless steel on this baby. A smoker out back. Out front, the most magical of signs:

Pulled pork.

Readers of this space know of my unending search for good barbecue -- or barbecue of any kind in the BBQ wasteland known as New Jersey. Bob Garvey and his wife, Jackie, operate the truck. The Middletown residents are veterans of the restaurant/hotel business; he is a former executive chef at AT&T, she a former banquet manager.

They know what they're doing.

One bite of their pulled pork sandwich is proof. It's a mountain of succulent pork, enlivened by a mildly sweet, sassy sauce, spilling out of a soft, puffy roll that nicely soaks up the juice. Four bucks. Delicious, and a deal besides.

Get this: Their brisket may be even better. Another Matterhorn of meat, more splendid sauce, same first-rate roll (from Baldanza's in Beachwood). Also four bucks.

"We make everything from scratch," explained Bob Garvey. "We smoke our own pork butts, our brisket. We don't use canned beans. We use dry beans, soak them for four hours. We make our own spice rub."

They opened for business in October, but they've been doing catering all along. "Garv-a-Que" is the nickname their friends gave the parties the couple would hold at their house. Customers at the truck include everyone from lawyers to construction workers, lured by the smell and taste of good barbecue.

The Garveys work out of an 8-by-12-foot mobile kitchen, outfitted with sinks, fridge and steam tables. The rotisserie smoker sits on a platform. Garvey uses different woods -- mesquite, applewood, hickory and others.

"It depends on what flavors I'm looking for," he explained. "Hickory is sometimes overbearing. I'll switch to a hardwood like applewood, for a milder flavor."

He and Jackie make a good team. "I like talking to people," he said. "Lately," he added, smiling at his wife, "she's been talking more."

Other menu items include ribs ( 1/3 rack for $6, 1/2 rack for $12); BBQ chicken sandwich ($4); stew ($4) and a rib and chicken combo ($9). Sides ($1.50) include mac-and-cheese and baked beans.

"You've got to do something you love to do," Garvey said. "Keep it simple, do it well. There are many places that call themselves real barbecue, with Bubba this and Bubba that."

There are no Bubbas at the Garv-A-Que, just good-to-go barbecue, served from a wood-paneled truck, with a side order of fresh air.