Cally's Sticky Bones Barbecue
Local haunt pleases customers with flavorful meat
What: Cally's Sticky Bones Barbecue
Address: 2313 W. Linebaugh Ave.
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday: 11 a.m-8 p.m.; Friday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
FOREST HILLS – There is no right or wrong when discussing barbecue. Everyone has their specific tastes, often gleaned from the region where they were raised and nurtured from the old Weber kettle in the backyard.
If you have an open mind, there are many styles to sample, from the tender ribs of Kansas City to the moist brisket of Texas to the fruitier sauces of California. And the people who prepare these delicacies are constantly tweaking their recipes, often using a hybrid mix of cooking styles from different regions of the country.
But when you find a barbecue place that tickles your taste buds and gets better each time you go, you have to let the masses know. Cally's Sticky Bones Barbecue on is that kind of spot. Don't blink, because you might miss it as you come around the curve on Armenia Avenue. But you'll be glad you slowed down and dropped in.
Owner Gary Callicoat, who grew up in north Tampa and attended Chamberlain High, started cooking over an open fire when he was 8. The experimenting led to opening his own place four years ago.
Callicoat, whose nickname is"Cally," is serious about his barbecue, earning a perfect score in the prestigious Kansas City BBQ Society competition for his pork shoulder and brisket. His team of family and friends – Sirpigsalot, The Knights of the Holy Grill – has been winning awards state-wide for his mouthwatering creations since 1990. Trophies and plaques adorn the walls in the small but clean eatery.
What brings me back is the dry rub he uses instead of slathering his meat in sauce. He marinates his meat almost 20 hours, and then slow cooks it in his huge smoker using a combination of fruity pecan wood from Georgia and pignut hickory and shaggy bark hickory.
His cooking style is modeled after the old German meat market butchers, who used smoke and a touch of seasoning to enhance the meat flavor. He uses only the best cuts of meat and pork, purchased from an old market in Chicago started in the 1880's where cowboys brought their cattle.
"The type or grade of meat you use matters a lot, especially if you don't cover it up with sauce," Callicoat said. "To have that great pork flavor and taste you have to have good meat. Then, I let the meat baste in its own juices."
His combination of spice rubs coat the meat, and combined with the slow cooking, they produce a product that's juicy and flavorful but not dried out.
"I always liked to taste the meat, so I use ingredients to enhance it and not cover it up," he said. "Usually when you slather it with sauce, it covers it up so much you can't taste the meat."
Callicoat tells customers to try the meat first, with the sauce on the side. He knows they still like their sauce, however, and he offers a variety of hot, sweet, smoky and a mustard sauce that's excellent on pork. I like to combine the sweet and hot for an extra kick.
Austin Barrett of Northdale has eaten at Callicoat's numerous times, and was impressed with the quality.
"It's always good, whatever you get, and the quantity and portions are large," Barrett said. "I love the sweet barbecue sauce."
Callicoat keeps his kitchen immaculate, and like any serious master of barbecue, he keeps a notebook for his constantly evolving recipes and flavor profiles. He also surprises customers with new items, such as the surprisingly tender rib tips.
Traditional sides are available such as beans, cole slaw, corn bread and potato salad. The corn bread has a light, soufflé quality, and the beans are a delectable combination of spicy and sweet. If you have room for dessert, try the smooth and creamy banana pudding.
"I built this place for people who are really into barbecue; it's what they live for," Callicoat said. "There are barbecue fanatics, even barbecue clubs and local judges, who come and eat here."
Tips for barbecuing
+ Marinate meat overnight for tendernes.
+ When grilling at high temperatures, use something with low sugar such as Italian dressing, because it won't burn on the grill.
+ Indirect cooking: Turn one burner off and keep the flame low on the other side where you put your meat. In between, put a pan of water and cook low and slow to keep it from burning.