In case you haven’t gathered, I’m a sucker for good barbecue. And not just brisket; pulled pork is where my fascination with the southern stuff began. In Baltimore, where I was born, there existed a brilliant BBQ restaurant called Red Hot & Blue. It was an authentic, Memphis-style barbecue stop that had mouth-wateringly good sauces. Ever since I made a trip back to RH&B about five years ago, I’ve held pulled pork sandwiches in high regard.
So of course I was enticed when Gullifty’s, a classic eatery in Squirrel Hill, repeatedly touted their Pulled Pork Sandwich as one of the best in the city. It’s a simple one, as all pulled pork sandwiches should be: “pulled pork, covered in our homemade BBQ sauce and topped with onion strings”. This way, the highlight of the sandwich is the pork and almost nothing else. The onion strings gave a little extra flavor when recognized, but the spotlight here shines on both parts of the main ingredient: the meat and the sauce.
First, the meat: For starters, Gullifty’s does NOT skimp on the meat here: my bun was overflowing with the pulled goodness, and I’m glad it was. Every bite of the meat was tender, and it was shredded to the perfect point where it melted in your mouth but still felt like you were eating a substantial sandwich. By hitting that sweet spot on the shredding spectrum, it sets the stage quite nicely for the BBQ sauce.
And then the sauce: it’s unlike any sauce I’ve ever tried: it takes parts Kansas City, parts Memphis, and parts Honey-Mesquite and combines them into a fantastic, smokey-yet-sweet sauce that is a perfect accompaniment to the meat. There’s something about it that makes it hard to put down: the initial flavor you get is the Honey-Mesquite, with a little sweetness to it, which serves to excite your taste buds. But then as the sandwich progresses, a subtle yet noticeable kick starts to emerge within the sauce, thus revealing it’s Kansas City and Memphis-style tendencies. It’s got that little Memphis smokiness that builds as you continue to eat, and the Kansas City kick in the back of your mouth that has you reaching for something to drink.
To round out the authentic nature of the ‘wich, they bring out cole slaw on the side, so that you have a side to counteract the multitude of holy flavors in the rich sauce and tender meat stacked tall in front of you. There’s nothing complicated about this sandwich, but that’s the way BBQ should be: when the main ingredient is this good, you don’t need much else.