Barbecue ball

East Bay of pigs? Roscoe's Joint serves up Oakland style barbecue, like this pulled pork sandwich.

East Bay of pigs? Roscoe's Joint serves up Oakland style barbecue, like this pulled pork sandwich.

Photo by AMY BECK

Roscoe’s Joint is open 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Drive-through open until 11 p.m.

Roscoe’s Joint, a barbecue place just south of the Peppermill, boasts “Oakland style barbecue.” I’d never before heard of “Oakland style barbecue,” so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would some crazed Raider Nation member bring me my ribs? Not so, thankfully. According to the owner’s daughter, “Oakland style” refers to where her dad learned to make barbecue. I wouldn’t have figured Oakland for a barbecue haven, but I’m willing to give most anything a shot.

Roscoe’s interior has various quotes and pictures of cartoon cows on the walls. There is also writing on the walls from customers, which I think is encouraged. Various tables with red chairs are spread throughout the dining area. While not the fanciest place, it definitely was unique, although the dated and cracked floor and overall coldness bothered me. But I came for the barbecue, not the atmosphere, so my friends Justin and Tim and I went up the counter to explore our options.

The menu offers lots of meat choices. We placed our huge order, and the owner’s daughter, who was quite friendly and willing to answer lots of questions, told us to have a seat, and she would bring the food out to us. Tim was excited to see a Kool-Aid machine with grape and cherry flavors.

Justin went with the beef ribs and a side of cornbread ($12.99). The ribs were so big I wondered if they had actually come from a dinosaur. I tend to find beef ribs too chewy, but Roscoe’s has these ribs down because they were incredibly tender and flavorful. The ribs arrived dry so Justin was able to choose his barbecue sauce, and he went with the hot, which had a nice tang and some serious creeping heat. The cornbread was warm but a little dry, though the butter helped to remedy this.

Tim went with the brisket and beef links with two sides ($14.99), and he chose macaroni and cheese and baked beans. The brisket was good, with a light smoky taste and crispy ends. The beef links, which are handmade, were the winner, with a rich, spicy flavor. If you’ve never had handmade links, do yourself a favor and try these. The baked beans had a nice sweet flavor with hunks of meat in them which I enjoyed. The macaroni and cheese did not fare as well, as it was lukewarm, gummy and lacked any kind of real flavor.

I went with the pulled pork and chicken with a side of collard greens and coleslaw ($14.99). The pulled pork was tender, flavorful and not greasy. I found the chicken a little bland, but it was cooked pretty well. The hot barbecue sauce I chose helped liven it up a bit. Again, the sides did not stand up to the meat as the coleslaw was just cabbage and too much mayonnaise. The collard greens had a good flavor with a bit of bitterness but were a little overdone and needed to be drained. As if we hadn’t ordered enough food, we also got a side of sweet potato fries ($2.99). After the disappointing sides, I didn’t have high hopes, but it turns out these were really good. They were crinkle cut, crispy and coated with cinnamon and sugar. Overall, Roscoe’s has solid barbecue and good customer service, but they need to spruce up the interior a bit and work on the side dishes.