New Barbecue Spot: Slow-Cooked, Fast-Served
Ed Wilson, pitmaster and owner of Wilson's Barbeque at the Darien North rest stop on I-95 (and a restaurant with the same name in Fairfield), wants his Darien place to be "a pickup spot for commuting husbands and wives, who need something quick."
Now, you can, seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Ed Wilson, "pitmaster" (as his business card says) and owner of Wilson's Barbeque has ribs, wings an a variety of fixin's at the counter just to the right as you walk in the main entrance to the Darien North rest stop building.
It may be pricier than the McDonalds, Subway or some other fare at the rest stop, but when people eat his barbecue, Wilson said, they know they're getting "real food. I give them a quarter pound of meat."
Wilson's barbecue is a bit different from what we in the Northeast are used to. "Some people think my ribs are dry. Well, I serve a competition style rib which is dry rubbed. I'm kind of a purist that way. I want people to have sauce on the side -- S.O.S. -- so they can sauce 'em the way they want them."
His ribs are different in another way: "If a rib falls off the bone, it's overcooked," he said. "In competition it should pull away from the bone."
His most popular dish is pulled pork, and his chickens are also popular in Fairfield, Wilson said.
Wilson, who grew up in South Norwalk, remembered his mother as being "a neighborhood cook -- she cooked for kids hanging out, and I cooked big barbecue meals for my kids when they were growing up."
So after Wilson retired from his career in real estate at age 50, barbecue became his passion, and he started entering barbecue competitions around the country, some of which he won.
"In the South, barbecue is a cuisine, just like Italian food is in the Northeast," he said. His vinegar sauce, based on an eastern Carolinas recipe, won a national competition, he said.
He owned a building in Fairfield and decided to start a barbecue restaurant there. Wilson's Barbeque was started in 2005 at 1851 Post Rd. in Fairfield.
The restaurant is relatively small, with about 35 seats inside and, when the weather is right, another 40 outdoors. It didn't exactly hurt the restaurant when the Food Network featured it on a couple of occasions.
For the Darien location, he said, "I'd like it to be a destination for Darien, Stamford, Norwalk people, even Greenwich, for that matter. We might provide curb service, so the commuter doesn't have to get out of his car. I'm toying with that."
So what's next for Wilson's Barbeque after Fairfield and Darien locations? Harlem. "I've actually located the space i Harlem, but I need to get the I-95 one off the ground first."
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I-95 Darien North rest stop
Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week