The Frugal Forager: Big Boy’s offers tempting array of smoked meats, deli, pizza

The new barbecue/deli and catering business in Sheridan Plaza in Schenectady is serving up Southern

The new barbecue/deli and catering business in Sheridan Plaza in Schenectady is serving up Southern barbecue and side dishes, along with supersized sandwiches, pizzas, big wings and fried chicken at affordable prices, and should succeed as the word spreads.

We visited for a quick supper the other night and were pleased to find freshly made chili, Brunswick stew and pasta e fagioli that was hot and ready for ladling, along with a range of freshly prepared salads and sandwiches, many of them out of the ordinary. (Think kielbasa, fried pierogi, sauerkraut and brown mustard on a sub roll.)

Big Boy’s Slow Foods & Catering opened its doors in November. It is a takeout-only, mom-and-pop place but you can also order food delivered at no extra charge.

Big Boy’s Slow Foods & Catering

WHERE: 1338 Gerling St., Schenectady; 631-9677,

WHEN: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday; catering only on Sunday

OTHER INFO: All major credit cards accepted; takeout or delivery only

COST: $37.94

Owner Steve Campbell, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has worked in the area for the past 15 years, including a gig at the Glen Sanders Mansion. His CIA diploma is proudly displayed on the wall just inside the entrance.

Good and affordable

Once you’ve eaten Big Boy’s food, two important factors are clear: The food is good and the prices are affordable. We ordered chili for two, two large, stuffed sandwiches, two salad sides and a piece of pie, and the total tab was $37.94, including tax and tip. The order fed three people with leftovers for the next day.

There’s a third factor that could bring them success. Their portions are generous. (Big Boy’s offers a Big Boy Half-Pound Hoagie for $9. It’s any sandwich on the full sub menu with a choice of toppings and spreads and 8 ounces of meat).

On the evening we visited, there was a Cuban sandwich ($7.25) among the specials, and I promptly ordered it. It’s a grilled sandwich on your choice of bread (whole wheat for me), stuffed with pulled pork, ham, cheese and lightly marinated sweet cucumber slices.

It was a thing of beauty, buttered bread grilled to a golden brown and stuffed with savory pulled pork, cheese that melted during the grilling and slices of ham, with the cukes added after grilling to provide a cool and crispy contrast. The glue to hold it all together is a mayo. It’s not something I’d want to eat often, but it was as satisfying as comfort food can get.

Beverly chose the Big Beef sandwich ($6.75), a prodigious pile of sliced roast beef with caramelized onions, Swiss cheese and horseradish cream, along with tomatoes which she requested, all on whole wheat bread. It was a good sandwich and would have been a great sandwich if the beef had been a bit rarer.

Big Boy’s chili was a treat — freshly made and hot and thick with veggies and well-seasoned ground meat. I’d have liked it a little spicier, but that’s easily remedied with a little Tabasco sauce.

Fresh salads

We also ordered two sides of salad — cole slaw and sweet dill cucumber, each priced at $2.50. Each tasted freshly made. The slices of cucumber were marinated in a sweet-and-sour dressing and came with slices of onion and whole cloves of garlic. The cole slaw, in a creamy and piquant sauce, was subtly spiced with celery seed, as it should be.

How good was the chocolate cream pie? Let’s just say it disappeared from our guest’s plate in the blink of an eye, so fast that I never got a chance to snag a morsel to make my own judgment.

Along with the expected salad fare, Big Boy’s offers a beet salad and a Southwest Spicy Bean and Rice salad.

Big Boy’s barbecue nights are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. That’s when they feature pulled pork sandwiches, baby back ribs ($9.50 for a half rack, $18 for a full), corn muffins, baked beans and chicken dinners, along with various combo plates.

Every night the menu includes choices of soups, sandwich specials as well as entrées like fried haddock, pork enchiladas with pepper jack cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips ($7.25), mac and cheese, penne and meatballs and chicken Parmesan with penne ($10.50).

The pies are made on the premises, along with the cheesecakes and the rice pudding, and you can order whole pies or cheesecakes by calling ahead 48 hours in advance. Big Boy’s also sells its own specialty roasted nuts.

Napkin notes

There’s a taste of Poland on Big Boy’s menu. You can order the house’s pierogi — filled with puréed potatoes, sharp Cheddar and caramelized onions — at six for $5 or $10 per dozen, galumbki (cabbage stuffed with seasoned ground beef and rice) at two for $8.50 and a Polish Plate of kielbasa, galumbki and pierogi for $10.50.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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