Ed Mitchell’s “The Pit” to Open in November

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I confirmed with Ed Mitchell and Greg Hatem that their new barbecue restaurant, The Pit, will open in Raleigh on November 26, the Monday after Thanksgiving. The new joint will be a high-end place in the old Nana’s Chophouse space and will initially serve only dinner, with lunch available in January.

I had a plate of Mitchell’s barbecue this past Saturday at the Southern Foodways Alliance symposium, and it was some of the best pork I’ve ever had. Plus, it was fun to see barbecue guru Bob Garner and Hatem working on Ed’s crew! I’ve always liked Mitchell’s barbecue, but I never raved over it. He often had quality control issues, with the barbecue being dry one day and overly sauced the next. Folks, Ed Mitchell has his act together, as the pork was tender, juicy, slightly smoky and just damn good. Every fan of slow-cooked pig should start marking their calendars for this exciting opening. The new website, which is not live yet, will be www.thepit-raleigh.com.

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24 Responses to Ed Mitchell’s “The Pit” to Open in November

  1. I don’t get to Raleigh very often, so please excuse me if this is common knowledge, but is Nana’s Chophouse closed, or did they move, or what?

  2. Varmint says:

    Yes, Greg Hatem shut it down to give Ed Mitchell the space. Greg really loves barbecue, and he was helping with the pig this weekend.

  3. Tyler says:

    Glad to see that Ed Mitchell is back with his pork….liked his Q in Wilson….I just question if this area will buy in to a “high end” barbeque place. Not even sure what that would entail – prosciutto laced collards?

  4. fuzzyT says:

    I’ve only had Ed’s Q at a catered event, but it was awfully good. Delicious ribs too. I’m glad to see Ed getting the opportunity, and I’m glad to see Raleigh getting a landmark BBQ destination. Can’t wait to see that first plate set down in front of me.

  5. VaNC says:

    I, too, am wondering about this “high-end” barbecue concept. Varmint….did you get any idea what that means? Are we going to have to pay bucks just to get good BBQ? Seems to me that would be cutting out a big part of his audience at either end. A fancy place will cut out many who just want some good ribs or bbq, while a bbq based menu won’t necessarily appeal to those looking for a high end “special” meal. I am intriqued, as I think Greg usually knows what he is doing foodwise, based on his successes so far.

    Any insights?

  6. Varmint says:

    I pushed Greg and Ed for details, but they were not forthcoming. We shall just have to wait and see . . .

  7. winston says:

    High end barbeque? Interesting (and strange) concept, but it could very well work. Imagine having barbeque with good sides. Really, the fries are usually mushy. The boiled potatoes – an afterthought. The cole slaw, tasteless. I’d be happy with some prosciutto laced collards. Or some sauteed-in-garlic green beans. And to eat barbeque where it wasn’t about turning tables and you could linger over a nice meal – that would be welcome. And a nice beer to go with it.

  8. Ross Grady says:

    I take it there aren’t the smokehouse permitting issues in downtown Raleigh that have stymied other folks’ attempts to bring real wood-cooked BBQ to urban areas . . . . ?

    I will join the chorus of folks who agree that Mitchell’s BBQ, when it was ON, was the best in the state. But put me down as skeptical about this whole venture . . . .

  9. Varmint says:

    It’s really not as much a smokehouse issue as it is a hood requirement. Each pit requires its own, independent hood with its own vent pipe. At least that’s what the folks at The Pit were telling me.

  10. Joe says:

    I think the hood requirement depends on who’s doing the inspecting. When the Q-Shack put their Hillsborough Street location in, they were told late in the process that they needed a hood for their smoker. Dan Ferguson told them he’d never been required to do that before, but the inspector insisted, so Dan spent like $8k on a hood. After the hood was installed, another inspector came by and said “Why did you put a hood over the smoker?” Dan was a little frustrated.

  11. wineswami says:

    I know that Ed is closely involved in developing special “BBQ bred” pigs which are closer to what was in NC prior to the “leaning” of pigs that has happened over the last fifty years. They are also supposed to be closer to the highly prized “pato negro” of Spain responsible for Jamon Iberico. (Rumoured to possbly be the parent breed of the Ossabaw)
    One thing about Mitchell’s is that they are not afraid to present deliciousness instead of PC healthiness. The cracklin’s sprinkled over the pork at his Wilson location are a fantastic touch!

  12. Varmint says:

    Ed is definitely raising his own organic, free-range pigs for this restaurant. I do not know which breed, however, but his ambitions are usually much grander than the immediate project at hand. Thus, it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up marketing these particular pigs as an alternative to Niman Ranch and others.

  13. Varmint says:

    Point of clarification: Nana’s Chophouse is still open. Apparently, Nana’s will stay open as long as possible, while they do whatever upfitting is necessary for the barbecue restaurant behind the scenes. They’ll then change the name and the restaurant’s style. Interesting way to approach things, but it keeps the money flowing.

  14. Jeff says:

    High end to me would be A&S bbq, Barbecue Joint sides, and a bartender who knows how to make a good Basin Street with Knob Creek.

  15. Varmint says:

    Greg Cox had a brief update on The Pit in today’s N&O. Nothing new except for a couple of menu items in addition to the barbecue. Frankly, this only makes me more excited!

  16. Scott Jones says:

    Do any of you ever eat out? Comments on how great Mitchells is in Wilson may be slightly overshadowed by the fact that it went under and out of business almost two years ago! Parker’s always had the best BBQ in Wilson. If you can’t make it in Wilson at $5 a plate, then go to Raleigh for $15+, that makes all the sense in the world, Not!

  17. Varmint says:

    I’ve eaten at Mitchell’s former restaurant in Wilson 4 times. I’ve had Parker’s 3. I’ve also eaten Ed Mitchell’s barbecue at 3 other locations where he cooked it on-site. Ed Mitchell’s problems are not with the quality of his barbecue, it’s been with the consistency and his business acumen. Ed Mitchell makes barbecue that is a ton better than Parker’s (who doesn’t even cook with wood), but he hasn’t been able to do it on a daily basis. I’m hopeful that this partnership will add some quality control to ensure that this barbecue is top notch every single day.

    It would be convenient to say that Ed Mitchell’s failure in Wilson was due to race, and I’ve heard that concept floated around a bit, but ultimately, he was his own worst enemy. He surrounded himself with family members who weren’t good for the business. He overextended himself with the banks. And he then had some tax problems. During this time, his focus on his barbecue was missing, and the business died.

    I know that there will be a lot of local coverage on The Pit when it opens, including some good stories into Mitchell’s background.

    Finally, if someone is selling barbecue for $5 a plate, and they’re cooking over wood, and it’s good, then tell me where that is, because I’ll spend the gas money to get there.

  18. FuzzyT says:

    With the amount of time and gas $$$ involved, I’m actually a lot more likely to pony up for a $15 plate in Raleigh than $5 in Wilson. Especially if it comes with great sides. Most treble especially if that heritage breed pork is as tasty as I’m imagining.

    I do love those Parker’s cornbread sticks. And I will always have a soft spot for Parker’s as my parents always took us there on car trips from NOVA to visit family in Grantham. Not the big joint, but the little white house with the pine paneling.

  19. Varmint says:

    The Charlotte Observer’s Kathi Purvis has a short piece in today’s paper about Mitchell and The Pit. Expect something much more in-depth in our local paper in the next few weeks.

  20. MB says:

    Yeah! Mr. Mitchell always had the best bbq in Wilson when he was “on his game” and I think since I’ve been eating bbq in Wilson for almost 40 years I can voice that opinion :) As for Parker’s and Bill’s lately, boo hiss, I haven’t been impressed.

  21. Varmint says:

    I called The Pit and confirmed that they are opening tonight. Not sure I can get there this week, but I’ll try.

  22. DoubleA says:

    My wife and I visited the Pit on Saturday night. It was pretty quiet when we arrived around 8:45 with about 3 other tables seated in the back dining area. But, there was a private party in the back and several tables seated in the front.

    We each ordered a drink – my wife a martini, red wine for myself. They certainly have the largest wine selection you’ll find in a barbecue restaurant. Being a traditionalist, I ordered the whole hog and got mashed potatoes and collards as sides. My wife doesn’t eat red-meat, so she ordered the chopped turkey with mac n’ cheese and bean salad.

    The whole hog was wonderful. Easily the best I’ve had in memory. My wife’s turkey was equally as good – perhaps the only time I’ve ever rethought ordering pork over turkey in a bbq joint. Sides were mediocre. The potatoes were bland, as were the mac n’ cheese and bean salad. The collards were definitely the best of the bunch, with just the right amount of kick. The biscuits were great though. Wine and biscuits, that was a first for me.

    Ed Mitchell walked the floor a few times, waving hello and stopping to talk to a few folks. His team looked bored in kitchen, so hopefully things pick up for them. The service was mediocre, but it often is when restaurants aren’t busy – staff tends to wander off.

    Overall it was a good experience. Their sides need to come up to the level of their bbq, but if you don’t have any preconceived objections to high-end bbq, then you will certainly enjoy the experience.

  23. VaNC says:

    Went back to the Pit last night and, again, came away happy. Having tasted most of the pork offerings at my last visit, I tried the fried chicken this time and have to say that it was the best fried chicken I have had in recent memory. Most importantly, it came out piping hot, crisp on the outside and really moist on the inside. The $12 fried chicken plate came with two biscuits (which seemed redundant, having been served biscuits in the bread basket) a huge pile of mashed potatoes and three pieces of chicken (leg, wing, huge breast). I only ate the dark meat and it was great. Ed Mitchell brought by some ribs for us to try earlier (very good) and I just couldn’t eat any more.

    I took my Dad who was visiting from Virginia. He is originally from Eastern NC and a serious Q fan, so he ordered the whole hog. AFter eating the ribs, he too said he couldn’t eat all of it, but there was NO Q, collards or black eyed peas left on his plate for me to taste. He said the veggies were great.

    I did notice that they changed the family style to $24 a person, which makes more sense. We talked at length with Ryan Mitchell, Ed’s son, who said that they are working on a revised kid’s menu, which will just include smaller versions of their menu. I look forward to this.

  24. JRFL says:

    I believe I fell victim to the “quality issues” referenced in this post. I went to The Pit with a group of 11 co-workers, and nearly all of us were disappointed in our meals. The baby back ribs were dry, flavorless, and extremely difficult to cut. The filets were severely overcooked. The mashed potatoes tasted like instant potatoes out of the box, and the mac n’ cheese was extremely bland. The collard greens, though, were quite tasty, just like DoubleA posted above.

    For the price, we were all very disappointed in this “high-end” barbeque joint. I hope they iron out their kinks, because Nana’s Chophouse is sorely missed.

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