Saw Mill Pizzeria and Smokehouse in Dracut may be on Broadway, but this deep woods Broadway is a far more barren version than the name would connote. It looks like a converted factory building, and I'm going to go out on a limb—no pun intended—and guess that it's a former saw mill. It's your typical pizza joint, with over-the-counter ordering and an open kitchen that houses a small electric smoker in the back. A few groups of stools line up againsts eating counters, and there's a separate room with a half dozen tables and a single TV. It's a comfortable setup, but takeout is clearly their mainstay.
The versatile menu is grouped into sections with creative names like "Blades" (pizzas), "Logs" (subs), "Mulch" (salads, seven kinds) and "Li'l Lumberjacks" (kids menu). Smoked BBQ Specialties include ribs by the rack and half rack, pulled pork as a platter or sandwich, and smoked roast beef. There's also BBQ chicken (not smoked) and a single combo platter with ribs and pulled pork.
A friend and I hit Saw Mill for a Saturday afternoon lunch.
Pulled pork sandwich: The photo of the pulled pork sandwich on the restaurant's website looked flooded with sauce, so I asked them to keep it light, and that they did. Served in a lightly powdered bulkie roll, the pulled pork peeked out the sides of the sandwich ($8.90 with two sides), revealing a light application of sauce only at the top of the pile. The meat was mostly grayish brown, with little to none of the pink coloring or smoky aromas I look for, but there was a surprisingly huge bark content. The large chunks and thinner shreds were about as tender as they should be, avoiding stiffness on one end of the spectrum and mushiness on the other. While not entirely dry, the pork certainly wasn't moist, but it was more the flavor—or rather, the lack of it—that had me reaching for the extra sauce. Overall, this was a just-okay pulled pork sandwich that succeeded more for its meatiness and doneness than for its texture or flavor, but it was a heckuva lot better than I'd expect at a pizza joint.
Ribs: Ordered with sauce on the side, the half rack of ribs ($11.40 with two sides) arrived with a thick crust, browned in some areas during the obvious reheat. The meat looked dry, but there were some plusses: good bone retraction and a thick cut. The cross sections revealed more grayish meat but a little more moisture than the first glance suggested. Though not immediately visible, the very tasteable surface rub did present a nice tingle of flavor. Deeper into the meat, the flavor was more like the pulled pork: bland. I do give the ribs credit for near perfect doneness, presenting a nice snap to the tender bite. I bet these would have fared better had I ordered them sauced.
Burger: A bacon cheeseburger was ho-hum. Nothing more or less than you'd expect at a pizza joint.
The standard sauce that graces all of the barbecue is a maroon/brown sweet and tangy sauce that tastes storebought, but it's a little thinner for better spreadability. I'm not a fan of it on its own, but a little spike from some of the other sauces—Gold Rush or Buffalo—works wonders. The Gold Rush looks like a mustard sauce, but it's a sweet and spicy blend that has a hint of fruitiness to round things out. I recommend this sauce over the standard one on the pulled pork sandwich.
Sides were a mixed bag and mostly out of a bag.
Baked beans: An extremely generous pile looked and tasted like a canned version, though I suspect they doctored it up a little.
Cole slaw: Made from cabbage and very little else, this looked and tasted far more homemade than its predecessor. Creamy without being too mayoey, this might have had some mustard to add a little spice.
Onion rings: A puffy beer batter or cornmeal batter variety, these onion rings were pretty much what you'd expect out of a pizza shop: premade and frozen. At least they were light, crisp and warm.
Fries: Another frozen product that neither excited nor dissapointed. I learned after the meal that Saw Mill also offers hand-cut fries, listed separately in the appetizer section of the menu.
The Bottom Line
For pizza joint 'cue, it's not bad, so for someone in the area getting a pizza delivered, Saw Mill's ribs and pork would be a justifiable add-on. But it's not a place I'd ever make any effort to revisit, at least not for the 'cue.
Yelp reviews of the Saw Mill
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