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Holy Smoke, Batman…

When tragedy struck the World Trade Center on 9/11, Chris Casino walked away from the destruction along with his huge trading job, and decided that new priorities were in order. 

Tucked away on 6N in Mahopac, NY is a wonderful find.  The place is called Holy Smoke.  On the board a sign reads a 1735 quote by English poet Alexander Pope, “Send me, gods, a whole hog barbecued.”  Task accomplished if that’s what you’re looking for.

Holy Smoke is outfitted with a smoke pit containing a huge stainless steel smoker.  This monster of a smoker runs anywhere from 18 hours a day to almost non-stop depending upon the season.  Native woods are soaked and then placed into the contraption along with hundreds of pounds of meat everyday.  Overnight, the meat is smoked to perfection creating a pink ring assuring you that this is good “Q.”

The restaurant is charming.  Red and white checkered curtains brighten the wooden dining room.  Adjacent is a decent sized bar with a few tables in the same area.  Each table is adorned with an ample supply of napkins, wet wipes, and two house sauces.  First there is the standard bbq sauce which has essences of molasses and even slight coffee.  My favorite is the mustard sauce which provides a tangy zip to meat which really needs no additional toppings, but this just pushes it in another direction.

Beer FlightThe bar has a beer list that is almost overwhelming.  There are approximately 18 interesting taps (no Coors, Bud or Miller in these kegs)!  As many fine restaurants hand you a wine book, you’ll be presented with a beer offering that is pages long and the most diverse in the area.  Beers from all over the world including some very interesting lambics, Chimays, and Belgian Trappists.  Some beers actually pushing upwards of 12% alcohol by volume.  Not sure what you’ll want?  Just ask and you will be given a taste to help guide your palate.  In addition, you can order a flight of four beers served on a board in order from lightest to heaviest – – your own private tasting.

Chicken wings at Holy Smoke are none like you’ve ever had. They are rubbed with an interesting spice mixture that has a slight heat kick.  The wings are then smoked for hours becoming almost pink and ham-like on the inside. Then they go for a final “swim” in one of two sauces if you’d like:  Hot or bbq.

The onion rings are made with sweet vidalias and the batter is made from a dark brown ale and fried to a delicious crisp. Sweet potato fries are another option, but the rings are better.

Chris offers two styles of ribs, St. Louis and Baby Back.  As for the St. Louis ribs,  they are smoked for a minimum of 8 hours over native hardwoods.  They are on the lean side and are fantastic.  Although they are offered in three sizes (half slab, 3/4 slab, and full slab), you’ll be hard-pressed to go for anything but the full rack.  As for the baby back ribs which are tender and smoky, they get about 5 hours of tender loving care. The “babies” are only available as a full rack and you wouldn’t regret it anyway.

Chris has his method down to a science.  His pork and brisket receive a minimum of 17 hours of smoking.  Homemade chorizo between stuffing the casings and smoking, becomes a two-day affair and the results are memorable.

Pulled PorkOf course there is Carolina Pulled Pork which comes as an enormous portion.  It is moist and the house sauces complement it well.

When ordering a main course you get a choice of two sides.  There are many to choose from.  Stay away from the apple sauce, it is uninteresting and more on the commercial (not house made) side despite the claim.  I recommend the creamed spinach which is made with a creamy soft Italian cheese and just fills your mouth with goodness – – a fantastic texture.  The coleslaw comes overflowing in a large ramekin.  The size of the shred is great but could use a bit more zip in the flavor. The baked beans are fantastic with little chunks of bbq meat throughout.

Finish your meal with one of their homemade pie specials, good stuff.

Certainly there are chicken dishes and burgers and the classic NY strip, but why go there when you can feast on true American bbq.  The real native dish of our country.

The sign on the restaurant reads, “Sinfully Fine Fare.”  You’re not kidding, Chris!

Holy Smoke

21 Route 6N

Mahopac, NY 10541


Mon.                 Closed
Tues.-Thurs.   11:30-9:00
Fri.- Sat.          11:30-10:00
Sunday:           12:00-9:00


  1. Susan wrote:

    Yum, now tell me how to get to 6N 🙂

    Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 1:36 pm | Permalink
  2. Jack Chambles wrote:

    If your ribs actually smoke for 17 hours, they must be tough as shoeleater. They will be completely done and tender after 4.5 hours.
    If left on another 12.5 hours after they are done you couldn’t eat them.
    Jack Chambles
    Ribs expert

    Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 2:14 pm | Permalink
  3. Bill –

    Thanks for your notes. Let me address your points.

    First of all, as a food writer I must say that I am not way over my head having been raised on good American bbq. I have had the good, the bad and the ugly. Also, I notice that you are posting from a commercial venue thus making me aware that you may be in the business of competition – – pitting yourself against others for your own possible gain. However, I wil give you the benefit of the doubt regarding your intentions.

    Alexander Pope in 1735? Yes, really. Most scholars agree that the cooking style came from the Caribbean, or at least that’s where it was first observed by Europeans. The word initially appeared in print in the English language in 1661. In 1732, Alexander Pope was already writing about the craving: “Send me, Gods! a whole hog barbecu’d.”

    In colonial times, barbecue was common in the Carolinas and Virginia. Whole hogs cooked over smoldering coals in long pits was the usual methodology. Please take a moment to research Pope and his literary works and you’ll surprise yourself. I’m glad I could be of help to clarify for you.

    Your comment regarding the pink ring in the center is unclear. Some customers come into a serious bbq environment and encounter the pink rings thus thinking the meat is not cooked properly. This is not the case and is a sign of well smoked meat.

    As far as decor and the fact that I used the word charming makes me laugh at your comment. The place is charming. Decor can be used for any venue whether it be Per Se in NYC or a roadhouse bbq joint. Obviously word choices are subjective – – I appreciate our ability to agree to disagree.

    As for the native woods, I assume you don’t understand the meaning of the word “native?” The definition of native is: of indigenous origin, growth, or production. So, in a nutshell, woods that are indigenous to our country. As a fan of bbq, I’m sure you know I am talking about American hickory, cedar, and alder, among others.

    The St. Louis ribs are delicious. They are on the lean side therefore leaving them with a different mouth-feel than the baby backs. The temperature is low and slow as I’m sure you know is one important factor to a great end product.

    Creamed spinach? I’m not sure what Q issues you have around this side-dish but it was the perfect complement to the smoky ribs.

    Thanks again for posting your comments. I hope I have clarified your concerns for you.

    Take a moment and visit Holy Smoke – – that will be the true test.

    All the best,


    Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 3:45 pm | Permalink
  4. Jack –

    Thanks for your reply.

    Please remember that they are being smoked and this is different than many other cooking methods. Smoking is over long periods of time at extremely low temperatures. The ribs are hardly dry and certainly not shoe leather!

    Better yet, go and try them for yourself and let me know.

    All the best,


    Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 3:52 pm | Permalink
  5. Susan –

    Assuming you are coming from the Croton-on-Hudson area, take the Taconic North. Then:

    Take the US-6 exit toward MAHOPAC / SHRUB OAK

    Turn RIGHT onto US-6 E.

    Turn LEFT onto NY-6N / E MAIN ST.

    Turn RIGHT onto NY-6N / MAHOPAC ST. Continue to follow NY-6N.

    Holy Smoke will be on your left.

    I hope this helps.


    Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 3:57 pm | Permalink
  6. Susan wrote:

    Billy man, you need to chill on the over punctuated verbiage. You say you’ve been cooking BBQ since you were 12. Bully for you but where do you get off saying the author of this site is in “waaayy over his head and experience level”? You put down every comment Alan wrote about the restaurant but as far as I can tell from your post you’ve never tried the food! Arrogant? I think so. Cocky? Oh yes. Get back to us when you’ve had a few cold beers and a couple of racks of Smokin’s ribs and tell us what you really think.

    Monday, January 28, 2008 at 4:40 pm | Permalink
  7. Joyce Dyer wrote:

    Can’t wait to come up and try it, how far away are you from Troy, NY? We’re planning to come up for the cook off in July 19 -20, 2008
    973-733-2108 be easy! What about accommondations? any suggestions?

    Thursday, February 7, 2008 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  8. Lisa wrote:

    I have been to Holy Smoke restaurant several times and have enjoyed the food and beer each time. Its not a fancy place, decor or food wise but it seems to be what it says… a restaurant that serves a large choice of good beers and BBQ. Everyone is I suppose entitled to their own opinion but if you havent BEEN there then you dont know what you are talking about. I have tied my shoes by myself for over 45 years but I am sure other people do it differently and probably as well or better than I do !!!! Doesnt mean mine is the ONLY way that there is !!!

    Saturday, February 7, 2009 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

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