Entries in Fatty ’Cue (3)


Fatty ’Cue (West Village)

Note: Fatty ’Cue (West Village) closed in May 2014. Fatty ’Cue (Williamsburg) and Fatty Crab (UWS) had closed previously, after founder Zak Pelaccio left the company. The West Village Fatty Crab is the only remaining member of the brood.


Zak Pelaccio’s brood of of Fatty Restaurants has now hit five with the arrival of a second Fatty ’Cue in the West Village, a slightly more upscale version of the the popular Williamsburg joint.

For the record, there are Fatty Crabs in the West Village, the Upper West Side, and on St. John, Virgin Islands; and also a chain of kiosks and food trucks called Fatty Snack. The new Fatty ’Cue was formerly the pop-up Fatty Johnson’s, and before that the unsuccessful Cabrito. Pelaccio calls the whole brood Fatty Crew.

If there’s a sense of monotony and a lack of range, it’s offset by Pelaccio’s uncanny sense for tailoring his restaurants to the neighborhoods they’re in. Pelaccio and his P.R. manager told Sam Sifton that this Fatty would offer “a slightly more grown-up menu and service style. . . .” Sifton added, “the seating will be comfortable and cozy, he said, and the room ‘will be quieter.’”

That’s all true. No one would call any Pelaccio restaurant formal, but the new Fatty ’Cue is more upscale than the UWS Fatty Crab, and considerably more grown-up than the original Fatty Crab or the Williamsburg ’Cue. It takes reservations and isn’t marred by the occasionally amateurish service that plagues the other locations.

At least, that’s my sense after two visits last week to a restaurant that is not yet a fortnight old. If they can keep it up, this could be the most enjoyable of the lot.

The cuisine is the same Southeast Asia-meets-barbecue theme of the Williamsburg restaurant, but there are very few dishes in common. The menu is in five sections, lightest to heaviest, though to call anything light here would be a bit of a joke. Plates range from $9 to $48, but most are under $20 and are suitable for sharing.

On my first visit, I ordered two dishes. This was the first time in my experience that a Fatty kitchen actually seemed to understand the concept of pacing a meal. Until now, Pelaccio’s restaurants were known for sending out food at the kitchen’s convenience, not the diner’s. Have they learned a lesson, or did I just get lucky?

I loved the Heirloom Tomato Salad ($13; above left) with pepper, fresh coriander, charcoal, and olive oil, resting in a pool of kimchi water. This is a typical late summer dish, but the spices and seasoning seemed just right. Heritage Pork Ribs ($12; above right) were juicy and enormous. One might complain at paying $6 a rib, but I couldn’t have eaten much more.

On my second visit, I ordered just one item: Deep-Fried Bacon ($18; above) with sweet and spicy salsa verde. It’s hard to come up with a bacon dish I don’t like, so bear that in mind when I tell you this one is excellent. The bacon is tender, with a crunchy crust from the fryer. Non-bacon addicts might be advised to share this one with a friend, but I was happy to eat it myself.

There’s a modest beer and wine selection, but I stuck with cocktails. The Chupacabra ($12;  tequila, chili-infused domaine de canton, fresh watermelon, lime) and the Smokin’ Bone ($13; bourbon, smoked pineapple, lime, chocolate bitters, tabasco) both pair well with the food. I’m especially fond of the latter.

I sat at the bar both times. On Wednesday at about 6:30 p.m., the restaurant wasn’t at all crowded. At the same time on Friday, I got the last free bar stool, and the hostess was quoting walk-in waits of an hour or more for tables. Service was the best I’ve had at any Fatty establishment. The bartenders were knowledgeable about the food and happy to explain the odd combinations of ingredients at length.

I don’t want to over-sell Fatty ’Cue, but in the early days it is the most enjoyable Fatty restaurant I’ve been to, with both food and service a cut above its brethren.

Fatty ’Cue (50 Carmine St. between Bedford & Bleecker Sts., West Village)

Food: *½
Service: *½
Ambiance: *½
Overall: *½


Fatty ’Cue

Note: Fatty ’Cue (Williamsburg) has closed. The space will became “Fatty Lab,” a test kitchen and private events space. Fatty ’Cue (West Village) later closed, as well. In addition, Zak Pelaccio is no longer affiliated with the Fatty restaurant chain.


Four years ago, on the way to dinner at Dressler, we took a brief walk around South Williamsburg and suddenly found ourselves in no-man’s land. As I wrote at the time, “I’m not saying it is scary—only that it looks that way.”

The area still doesn’t look pretty, but with hipster bars and fancy salons dotting the landscape, it’s getting better all the time. In this formerly desolate area, chef Zak Pelaccio has installed the latest member of his fatty family, Fatty ’Cue. It’s the third member of the brood, after Fatty Crabs in the Meatpacking District and on the Upper West Side.

It wasn’t easy. Once announced for a Fall 2008 opening, Fatty ’Cue didn’t appear until March of this year. I don’t know the reasons, but getting the permits for a barbecue smoker is notoriously difficult, especially in an historic neighborhood full of buildings that pre-date modern construction codes.

The restaurant is a mash-up of the faux Malaysian cuisine offered at the other Fattys, and Texas barbecue supervised by former Hill Country pitmaster Robbie Richter. Sam Sifton, who awarded one star in the Times, wasn’t kidding when he said that, “No one else is cooking like this anywhere.”

The service and atmosphere very much resemble the other Fatty restaurants. Except for the barbecue smoker, so does the cuisine.

The menu is in two parts—snacks ($3–12) and specialties ($11–22)—but they all seem to be appetizers, more or less, delivered to the table as they’re ready, and designed for sharing. Most items are a mixture of proteins from the barbecue smoker and Asian-inflected condiments. For example: “Hand Pulled Lamb Shoulder, goat yogurt with Vietnamese mint, house pita.”

At plate-sharing places, it’s always difficult to gauge how much to order. I had two of the snacks and two of the specialities (again: these distinctions seem arbitrary), and it was a shade too much food for a solo diner. One fewer plate probably wouldn’t have been enough.

The server recommended a salad as a foil to the barbecue. Cucumbers ($6; above right) with smoked chili, brown rice vinegar, and toasted sesame seeds, fit the bill admirably, but they were nothing special on their own.

’Cue Coriander Bacon ($11; above left) is awkward to eat. You’re supposed to slather the steamed yellow curry custard on toast, then put the bacon on top of that. Perhaps you can guess from the photo that this didn’t quite work out. The bacon was just fine, but $11 is a lot to pay for five small pieces. An order of bacon at Peter Luger, down the street, is something like $2.95. You get more, and it is equally good.

Like the other Fatty restaurants, Fatty ’Cue serves dishes that obviously require a knife (in this case, for spreading the custard), but doesn’t supply one. I’m sure they have knives, but this isn’t exactly Le Bernardin, where you have but to flick an eyebrow, and a server appears instantly. So I used the fork as a spreader. When the server re-appeared to clear the plate, he picked up the fork and hesitated slightly before making the right decision to replace it.

Fazio Farm Red Curry Duck ($14; above left) was the dish of the evening, the best duck I have tasted this year—plump, tender, luscious, and yes, fatty. It came with a curry sauce on the side, but I quickly figured out that it was superfluous—as sauces invariably are with the best barbecue. In any case, those large pieces of duck didn’t readily fit in the dipping bowl.

Brandt Farm Beef Brisket ($18; above right) was the least successful dish, and like the others, ill-conceived. The meat lacked the deep marbling of the best brisket at Hill Country. There were a couple of moist pieces on top, but those below (not visible in the photo) were dry. You’re supposed to make sandwiches with the steamed buns, adding red onions and chili jam, but I ran out of buns before I ran out of brisket. Once again, a knife would have helped, as the remaining pieces of meat did not yield to a fork alone. Finally, I gave up.

There are some wonderful cocktails here, especially The ’Cue (Wrey & Nephew overproofed run, smoked pineapple, citrus, Tabasco, Pernod), featured in this week’s New York, and a bargain at $8. However, they were slow in coming. Every booze run to my table and others within earshot was prefaced with, “Sorry, but the bar is really backed up.”

Notwithstanding that, the servers and runners were helpful and knowledgeable about the food. Meal pacing is often a problem at small-plate restaurants, as indeed it was on our last visit to Fatty Crab. This time I lucked out, and everything came out (except the drinks) at exactly the pace I wanted. Based on other reviews I’ve seen, this will not happen to you, unless the stars are in alignment.

I wasn’t encouraged when I walked in at 6:30 p.m. on a Friday evening, to find a loud bar nearly at capacity. But the space is on three levels, and the higher you go, the more pleasant it gets. The hostess seated me a table on the quiet (relatively speaking) third level, which has only five tables. I suspect it gets much louder later on: they are open until 4:00 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.

While no dish at Fatty ’Cue is expensive on its own, the costs mount in a hurry. I paid almost $90, including tax and tip, for four small plates and three cocktails. That might be more than most people would want to pay in a casual restaurant that is not conveniently located, for food that is certainly interesting but is also uneven.

Fatty ’Cue (91 S. 6th St. between Berry St. & Bedford Ave., Williamsburg)

Food: *
Service: *
Ambiance: *
Overall: *

Fatty 'Cue on Urbanspoon


Review Recap: Fatty ’Cue

Today, Sam Sifton gives a onespot to the latest member of Zak Pelaccio’s fatty tribe, Fatty ’Cue:

The food is incredibly good. Fatty ’Cue is a restaurant worth traveling to visit. To expand on the playbook of awesome, Malaysian-ish cooking on display at the Fatty Crab restaurants in Manhattan, Mr. Pelaccio’s Fatty Crew — with Corwin Kave as executive chef and Andrew Pressler as chef de cuisine — has added to their roster Robbie Richter, the Queens-born pitmaster who helped start Hill Country in 2007. Fatty ’Cue offers smoked crabs and smoked lamb ribs, coriander-dusted bacon and pieces of pig.

Sifton nails the place, but I am starting to tire of his stereotypes:

…a biker bar for the kind of bikers who don’t ride Harleys in leathers and boots, but stripped-down Schwinns in boat shoes and skinny jeans.

…it sure would be funny to roll up to the place with a white-shoe lawyer, some actuarial accountant from Tucson or dramaturge from the Upper West Side…

…Fatty ’Cue might be uncomfortable for those who hear more music at Lincoln Center than at Southpaw.

And also his obscure “look how clever I am” references:

It recalls, almost perfectly, what the Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa called the magic of the present moment.

But by the low standards that currently pass for New York Times criticism, this one passes muster.