Yes, John’s still open. Yes, it’s still good. Yes, the sauce recipe was lost in a poker game. Once, Joe Grey lost it, years ago. Several times, Jerome lost it. Joe Gray left out one ingredient. Even when he taught his nephew, Jerome, before they went separate ways. Jerome lost all the recipes he came up with when he was trying to match his uncle’s sauce. All close, none exact. I have a different recipe that came from 30 years ago when someone took Jerome’s sauce to a lab and had it chemically analyzed. All of the Mononogahela style BBQ is based on these basic recipes.
Now HogFathers has opened a shack here, and occasionally CL’s Hawg Heaven shows up somewhere. These guys are great, but they are not traditional Monongahela BBQ. Right now your main choices if you want to try it are the following:
Find Jerome or Jerome Jr. They still cook, gypsy, style. It’s like finding a needle in a Haystack.
Rib Cage. John’s got it down pat. A point though, your critics had the sweet and sassy I believe. It’s very good, but it’s not all out traditional mon city sauce. Same base, different stuff. Hot or Mild has the history in it. Go back for round 2, or take a tour of the town.
Marty’s BBQ – Saturdays at Hey Andy’s bar/Foodland. This is true traditional Mon City Sauce. 55 gallon drum grills under a carport in a parking lot, manned by a guy who has done the Saturday thing since the mill closed 30 years ago. Chops are good, the signature is the giant sausage sandwich. Call ahead, he takes a day off once in a while. Still cooks in the winter, though.
Blaine Hill BBQ – It’s good and it’s got the most consistent hours. Open 7 days a week. These guys commercialized the sauce, bottle it, and sell it in the grocery store. Everything comes out of the kitchen, only see smoke once a week, still tastes pretty good.
Fourth Street Barbeque – Charleroi – It’s brand new, not the typical BBQ shack or the traditional open top grill, but the hot and mild is traditional mon city sauce. The meat is done differently, but it’s definitely done right. This is the place for the guy that wants the smoked meat, and the place for the one that doesn’t like the traditional sauce, they have quite a few choices (and they will ship sauce to Alaska or Missouri)
With that said, there’s more history to cover. There was a shooting in The Jungle Club. Jerome shot a guy who tried to kill him. someone had a problem, said they were going to get a gun and come back, he went to the car, came back in, and Jerome was waiting with his .357. Self Defense. No cover ups, just rumors. Allegedly, Joe Gray and Jerome both occasionally used railroad ties and quite often pallets as firewood. Years ago, they both had grill grates made from bedsprings as well. This is where the open grill style of cooking came from. Now there are tons of rumors about the secret ingredient, Everyone who’s from here has heard hundreds. Good luck finding them, It’s never going to happen. No one will give it up. It’s not liquid smoke, either.