Faux smoke and applied grime above Wildwood’s raucous 50-foot bar and a bold mix of rustic barn siding with industrial iron want to suggest that pit barbecue belongs to the big city. Or so restaurateur Steve Hanson hopes to prove in the sprawl that once was his wildly successful Park Avalon and later the short-lived Barça 18. Every chair at each table is different, designer David Rockwell’s trick to suggest flea-market whimsy—or just utilize Hanson’s warehouse, I’m guessing. Urban fans of Texas brisket, southern pulled pork, and Memphis dry ribs are piling in to check out the smoker-pit work of “Big Lou” Elrose, the former cop from Ozone Park, self-taught on the ’cue circuit and recruited from Hill Country. His deftly balanced baby backs, savory lamb ribs, perfect slices of juicy brisket, and the mammoth short rib on the bone are worth the hike. It’s early, though, and so far the dry ribs dusted with Lou’s own rub are just that, too dry, and the sausage is unremarkable. The chili skimps on Cheddar and onion and needs to be less sweet. But we love the sweet-potato fries and the salt-and-vinegar chips. There are unremarkable salads for sissies and sensational beer-battered fried jalapeño slices for chile-heads, a big roster of bourbons and a dozen beers on tap. If you’re going whole hog, sorbet at the end won’t save you. Be advised that pastry star Elizabeth Katz’s creamy carrot cake is for real, but the chocolate wedge is not even a distant relative of the ultimate layer cake it seeks to be.
225 Park Ave. S., nr. 18th St. 212-533-2500