Pitt of my Stomach


I’m a Carolina bar-b-que guy. …pig butts, unseasoned, pit cooked, finely chopped, and seasoned with a little vinegar and, maybe, a few spices. Memphis, Kansas City, and Texas all have something great going for ‘em. If you hit the right places, they make some excellent beef and pork, especially ribs, but it ain’t BBQ. For god sakes, half those places cook in indoor ovens. Folks, if it’s cooked in an oven, it ain’t BBQ.

But hell, everyone has their vices. And Lord knows I have mine. And while my favorite BBQ place is in the land of Dixie, does pitt [sic] cook their pork, and is a classic road-food stop, they do break an important law of NC BBQ …the tomato. Any respectable Carolina bar-b-que lover will tell you that tomatoes have no place in traditional BBQ sauce. But hey, we’re a progressive lot, and I think we all know that sometimes innovation simply trumps tradition. Continue after the jump to find out what the hell I’m rambling about.

The roadside BBQ joint that drew me in to such a diffuse intro is none other than Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que in Williamsburg, VA. Located just off I-64, it’s actually visible from interstate if you know where to look. Opened October 15, 1971, Pierce’s was the vision of Julius C. “Doc” Pierce, a Tennessee native who moved his family to VA’s tidewater to open a bar-b-que restaurant based around the family’s “prized bar-b-que sauce recipe.” Prized indeed. This light tomato based sauce brings meaning to the word tangy. Just enough spice to keep a spice-hound like me interested, but just mild enough for the spice-timid and kids alike. It’s otherwise indescribable until you’ve tasted it yourself.

And the pork, my god, the pork. Pit cooked in the Pierce’s smokehouse, it’s as good today as it was the first time I had it in the 80’s. Fine and chunky chopped pork mingle together, with just the right collection of blackened tips to keep things interesting. The smoked flavor is damn apparent, and just damn perfect.

I-64 brings travelers East from Richmond and Charlottesville towards Hampton Roads and the beaches of VA and NC. So the next time you pack the fam in the minivan and head south for some coastal R&R, don’t forget to fill up at Pierce’s Pitt.

Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que
447 East Rochambeau
Williamsburg, Virginia 23185
Phone: 757 565 2955

Eastbound I-64 – take the Lightfoot exit, follow signs to E. Rochambeau.
Westbound I-64 – take the Camp Peary Exit, left at ramp, right onto E. Rochambeau.

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  • belmontmedina January 17, 2008  

    Mmmm, I’ve been there before, on my treks from DC to Hampton. Delicious. Can’t lie though, I remain highly skeptical of tomato based BBQ.

  • BS January 17, 2008  

    wow i had no idea it was even tomato-based. I’m maybe not the most knowlegeble about traditional BBQ, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with the way that stuff tastes

  • 80 Proof January 17, 2008  

    In theory Communism works too…in theory.

  • h diddy January 17, 2008  

    mmmmmmmmmm bar b que. you know, where im from, people think that bar b que is anything that is cooked on grill. stupid ohioans.

  • Tim January 17, 2008  

    80, what the hell are you talking about?

  • BS January 17, 2008  

    h-diddy: early in our career, ES readers addressed the BBQ misnomer issue and ruled decisively that simple grill food should never again be called BBQ.

  • 80 Proof January 17, 2008  

    I’m equating communism to tomato based BBQ sauce.

    What? Is that weird?

  • Tim January 17, 2008  

    BS – along the same lines, I would strongly advocate the addition of a BBQ category to ES.

  • BS January 17, 2008  

    write two more posts on BBQ and consider it done

  • Tim January 17, 2008  

    Reviews on Kings and Hogs on the Hill are on deck. And I ain’t postin’ ’em till they have a category. Jerk.

  • BS January 17, 2008  

    aaaaaah done. my bluff is called easily

  • Brian January 17, 2008  

    tim, were you in clemson during the tail gate pig smokin’ days?

  • JoeHoya January 17, 2008  

    As a Certified Barbecue Judge (CBJ) on the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) and the host of the single largest barbecue-themed fundraising event on Capitol Hill last year (ribs, pork, brisket and chicken flown in from Texas, KC, Memphis, and the Carolinas), I can definitely appreciate the taste and tang of North Carolina’s pulled pork. Their slaw isn’t too shabby, either.

    But anyone who says ribs aren’t true ‘cue is smoking something besides pork.

  • Tim January 17, 2008  


    Let there be no doubt. I smoke a tremendous amount of marijuana.


  • very very good girl January 17, 2008  

    Do tell…where is your favorite favorite BBQ pitt in the Carolinas? Or specifically North Cackalacky?

  • MonkeyBoy January 17, 2008  

    Is Pierce’s much better if you eat in? I’ve had it taken out but I think it loses something in the styrofoam. Still pretty good though.


  • Tim January 18, 2008  

    VVGG – ironically, my favorite true Carolina style bbq is King’s in Petersburg, VA. I used to stop at a place in Concord, NC but I’ll have to dig up the name for you.

    MonkeyBoy – Eating in at Pierce’s is imperative. When you go back, grab a jumbo w/ slaw, onion rings, green beans, and a cup of sweet tea. Relax and enjoy. Pierces isn’t meant to be eaten luke warm or behind the wheel. 🙂

  • Coonass cook July 13, 2008  

    I make my own sauce quit often and its thick, sweet, tangy and red with tomato….. its good to be bad.

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