I have been trying for months. MONTHS. to go to Russ' Ribs, a small restaurant in the Dellslow plaza with China City Restaurant.
Russ' Ribs has been a Preston County catering staple for 19 years. Just recently, he opened up this small restaurant in Morgantown that's only open select hours and days. While catering is their primary money-maker, the restaurant seems to just be getting by.
We had been calling randomly during the week - at first we thought they were open Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Then discovered they're only open Wednesday and Friday. We would call randomly and wouldn't receive an answer or they'd answer and say they weren't opening that day.
When Russ himself answered the phone this past Friday and said they were open, I was not going to pass up that opportunity. I was starting to think the place was never open. So, Jake (a Preston County native), Tony and I hopped in the car and headed to the other end of Sabraton.
The outside has some flashy graphics and the smoker "Gabby" sits beside the building. Inside, though, is pretty sparse. Just three mismatched tables, a lone counter top and some framed awards on the white walls. There's no door between the dining area and kitchen, and a rack full of random ingredients sits in the dining area. Their effort is not in the interior - much more of a take-out place.
As far as the menu, don't expect options. Except for your sides. When we went, the only thing that was ready was pulled pork. He said we could wait a half hour or so for chicken wings, but we didn't really have the time. So our option was pulled pork, which I was OK with.
It comes with two sides. They didn't have the potatoes (darn!), but I got collard greens and macaroni and cheese. Plus a drink, and my total was less than $10.
After a short wait, I was brought a large pulled pork sandwich with my two sides on a Styrofoam plate.
Macaroni and cheese: Not thick and cheesy like I wanted, but still good. Sauce was thin, but they peppered it, and that reminds me of my mom. So, good.
Collard Greens: Good flavor. Mine were a little watery, but tasty.
Pulled pork: Pretty tasty. He used his original sauce, which has won awards. Falls more into the Kansas City style of BBQ, with the pork and tomato/molasses sauce. I like the thick, smokey sweet sauce. Tons of meat was packed between the sesame seed bun, and I would love to have that sauce bottled to use for dipping.
But then this is when I fell in love with Russ.
As we were getting ready to leave, Jake was saying goodbye, and Russ called us back to try his chicken wings. No charge. He just genuinely wants people to love his food. That's special. And, they were some of the best wings I've had in town. Crisp on the outside and fall apart tender on the inside. He said it's a different kind of wing for Morgantown, and he wasn't sure if they were going to do well. I can tell you, that's all I want in a wing. I hate when the skin is slimey and fatty. Crispy skin and tender meat? Just perfection. We tried two different kind of sauces that he sauced up right in front of us. They were great.
It's rare you see someone who just genuinely wants to share their food with people - not for profit - but to share the love. I love that down-to-earth feeling here. I love the time, care and passion he puts into his cooking.
These are the kinds of places we need to be pouring our money into. People who genuinely care about their food, want to share it with the town, and it's good stuff. They aren't strong on the media and marketing aspect, so spread the word. Try a great sandwich and keep going back.