When Steve Hanson decided to launch a major barbecue restaurant (as we told you about in August), he didn’t have to look far for a pitmaster. He turned to the most critically acclaimed new barbecue in the city’s history, Hill Country. Big Lou Elrose, ex-cop, ex–competition barbecuer, and now ex–deputy pitmaster at Hill Country, will lead the pit team at Wildwood BBQ when it opens in December. The six-foot-five ex-policeman will also help develop operations for subsequent restaurants. “Lou has a lot of passion,” the B.R. Guest bigwig told us. “And he really knows pork. He’s truly gotten into the culture of barbecue, and he’s going to be one of our main guys.” Elrose, for his part, has a simpler ambition. “I just want to cook good barbecue,” he says.
Related: B.R. Guest's New BBQ: Will Wildwood Succeed?
It's been rough for Queens barbecue enthusiasts. Since "English Bob" Pearson's last outpost went under last year, there haven't been any smoked meats worth eating there. But that changed this week, thanks to "Big Lou" Elrose, a six-foot-four former police officer who made his bones assisting Daisy May's chef Adam Perry Lang in barbecue competition. Elrose has just launched Big Lou's Breakfast and BBQ, a lunch wagon in Ozone Park open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. On the circuit, Big Lou is known for prepping egg-and-bacon breakfasts for everyone. But his barbecue is the real draw here: pulled pork, chopped brisket, and pulled chicken, all slow-smoked over mild fruitwoods like apple and cherry, and served, with his original sauce, on soft but substantial Portuguese rolls from nearby Rosa Bakery. Add in a dollop of his homemade coleslaw and you have a sandwich worth driving to Ozone Park for.
Big Lou's Breakfast and BBQ, Rockaway Blvd. at 105th St.