Conveniently located 1 town north of scenic Newport RI, Becky's BBQ offers a getaway from the tourist traps of Newport proper. From the street, Becky's looks more like a residence than a restaurant. You drive down a narrow driveway to the rear of the building, where the entrance is right near the stack of wood and Southern Pride smoker. Out back, there are some mismatched chairs and a table, but it's unclear whether this is for outdoor customer dining or employee use.
Inside, there's a counter where you order. Behind it is a raised prep area, where a crew assembles orders. The cramped dining area has closely packed tables and wooden ladder back chairs. The decor is country crafty, with a few pig-related knick knacks on shelves. They don't have a bar and don't serve alcohol.
I stopped in on weekend afternoons when returning from Newport, spread about three years apart.
The simple menu features ribs, pulled pork, pulled beef, and pulled or BBQ chicken. Pulled meats are available as platters or sandwiches. One nice aspect of the menu is the combos. Each meat is listed as a reasonably-priced a la carte item (most are around $3; two sides plus cornbread are $3) from which you can build any size combo you want, even choosing the chicken pieces you want.
On the first visit I tried a combo with ribs, pulled pork and chicken, with cole slaw and baked beans. All meats arrived unsauced. The ribs were small St Louis ribs, about the size of a Chinese rib. These were smoky and pink, dry at the outside and moist near the bone. There was just enough tenderness to pull easily from the bone and a pretty good flavor. The very dry pulled pork had the consistency of cat food and didn't taste that much better, even with the addition of sauce. The chicken was also dry, with a wet, rubbery skin. My guess is that it was smoked the day before, refrigerated, then reheated in one of the visible microwave ovens.
A year later I ordered an identical plate and saw slightly better results. The ribs were a little thicker and more appealing, featuring a better defined crust. The pork was a little pasty but featured a few larger sized chunks of bark. Chicken was less rubbery outside and extremely moist inside. the smoke level on the pork and chicken was light but noticeable; the ribs carried a little more.
With two visits under my belt, my take is that the meats are probably prepared and smoked competently but may suffer a little in the holding and reheat. I'd like to try the ribs and chicken later in the day and compare the results with the late lunch visits.
There were three sauces in squeeze bottles on the table, all very good to excellent. The dark brown sweet/tangy sauce was typical but good. The sweet and tangy mustard and the peppery brick red North Carolina vinegar sauce were the better choices.
Refreshingly cold cole slaw was very finely chopped, with a watery condiment that seemed to have neither Mayo nor vinegar. I found this very different and very enjoyable, and on the second visit I noticed a strong onion component. The "three-bean bake" was twice excellent, with good visual appeal from the different colors of baked beans, an al dente texture, a few bacon bits to punch things up and a very nice overall sweet/tart flavor. Cornbread was decent, sweet and mostly fluffy with a few small kernel chunks.
The Bottom Line
There were some highlights here and some disappointments here, but a few small tweaks in the holding and reheating program could turn this pretty good barbecue joint into a very good one.
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