About a year and a half ago, I sat down with one of the owners of The Hamilton Inn, John Gondevas, for an interview. It was one of my first restaurant posts and still one of my favorites! At the time, next door to The Hamilton Inn stood a vacant space that used to be a Vespa shop. I asked John what it would be and he said they would be opening a pizza place. To which I said, “Isn’t there enough pizza in JC?” Well, John clearly lied to me, because a little over a week ago he and his brother Mike opened up Hamilton Pork.
Delicious BBQ in Jersey City. I was so excited when I heard! Mike and John invited me to come check out the space and try the food along with friend and photog, Greg Pallante. The space is so cozy, I did not feel like I was in JC! I felt like I was somewhere down south. I was upset that I didn’t wear my vintage cowboy boots!! Anyway, you are probably reading this post because you want to know about the food and look at foodporn. I gotchu.
To be honest, I ate there on Friday, almost a week ago and I am still pretty full. Mike and John spoiled us and let us try almost everything on the menu. The food was so fucking amazing, the meat perfectly seasoned and smoked, and the drinks were incredible. I don’t even have words to describe the experience in general!
What we ate:
- Kung Pao Chicken
This was the first thing I bit into and I felt my eyes roll in the back of my head with delight. They just might win my choice for best wings in Jersey City. I tried not to eat too many because I needed to save room for the rest, but I couldn’t stop. Those wings are like crack. Crack is not wack in this case.
The ribs fall off the bone and melt in your mouth. It was so good I felt like I was doing something illegal. I need to eat these right now (it’s 5 am as I write this). Are you open Hamilton Pork?! I need my protein fix.
3. Lamb Belly
I didn’t think I would like this. The idea of eating “belly” doesn’t usually appeal to me. BUT HOLY S^$&T was it amazing. I was full, but I kept eating. OMG how good does that look?!
4. Assortment of Tacos (Gyro, Shrimp, Lamb)
According to John, the tacos at The Hamilton Inn are their best selling item! Now you can get a variation of them at the Hamilton Pork!! Not a meat eater? Get the shrimp tacos. Mmm.
5. Sides: Cheese Fries, Macaroni and Cheese, Coleslaw and Mash Potatoes
Cheese + Fries + a smoky flavor. That’s all I need to say. I was beyond full at this point. Everything is so good. I am entering a food coma. I can no longer write this post.
6. Drinks: Margarita and a Cucumber Mojito
I was drunk and full. I needed someone to bring me home so I could sleep. The cocktail menu definitely did not disappoint. Let’s just say I had a really rough time getting anything done after the interview.
I sat down with the brothers to get the scoop and background story on Hamilton Pork. It was really nice getting the chance to also get to know Mike who just had a baby! Mazal tov! I love the Gondevas brothers! They are a huge asset to the Jersey City community and Jersey City loves them so much. They are the best.
What’s are your names? Michael Gondevas. John Gondevas.
And you are brothers. What do you do?
John: Everything! We own The Hamilton Inn and now Hamilton Pork.
Tell me the concept behind Hamilton Pork.
Michael: It really started with the Hamilton Park Barbeque Festival five years ago that sparked the idea. Barbeque exists everywhere in the country except New Jersey, there’s not very much of it.
John: Especially in this area.
Michael: So John and I started talking about it and started traveling to barbecue places all over the country and we just wanted to try something different. We had a space right next door to Hamilton Inn and we didn’t want to directly compete with it.
It’s a pretty big space.
John: Yeah, it’s about ten seats more than The Hamilton Inn.
It’s cozy too.
Michael: We try to create cozy spaces.
Tell me about the decor.
John: We got this flag from Kanibal Home. All the wooding is from Joe Wood at Tribeca Grain. We always try to work with local people and support local businesses.
Joe Wood!! I love him he is the best.
Michael: He really is, he always does an amazing job.
Ok let’s get to the food now.
Michael: Simple, classic, slow smoked, good barbecue. Nothing fancy.
John: With a little Mexican flare.
Michael: There’s a little bit of a Mexican twist just because so much of the kitchen workforce in this area is all Mexican. All our meats are from Pat LaFrieda!
Any options vegetarians and vegans?
Michael: We want the get the heart and soul of the menu down packed right now and then venture off. But we do have vegetarian sides and we will also offer fish options for pescatarians.
This food is perfect for the summer and this is great for kids.
Michael: Kids love ribs! I didn’t know that. Hamilton Pork is also really family friendly, it’s a great place to come together and share a bunch of dishes and get your hands dirty. Ask for extra napkins!!
Do you guys have desserts?
Michael: We have a churro ice cream sandwich.
Michael, congrats I heard you just had a baby! how are you juggling everything?
Michael: It’s kind of one ball, I’m just juggling the restaurant right now. I make breakfast in the morning and I try to see them before they go to sleep at night. If I don’t I just make it up to them the next day.
Do you want your son to work in the restaurant since it’s like a family thing? I kind of want them to, but I also would hope that they could do something bigger and better. I would like them to work for themselves.
And be entrepreneurs. Yeah.
And what have you been up to since the last time I spoke to you?
John: Opening this restaurant.
What do you love about owning a restaurant?
John: We get a lot of quality brother-time in.
Michael: It’s nice to make people happy. There’s something really truly, genuinely rewarding about that is to make people happy.
Do you ever fight?
Michael: Every day.
John: At least every other day.
How do you make it work?
John: We fight and then we go to lunch.
Anything else you’d like people to know about Hamilton Pork?
Michael: We’ve [been] open about a little over a week right now. We’re working on brunch, we’re working on outdoor space for the summer.
Any plans for the summer?
Michael: We will do the Hamilton Park Barbeque Festival.
You guys will sell your own barbecue. It’ll be the only Jersey City barbecue at the Hamilton Barbeque Fest.
Michael: It’s fun, you go out with a few people, you can share a bunch of stuff, have a few drinks, it’s fast and that’s it. It’s easy.
Do you have a favorite Jersey City hang out spot other than your restaurants?
John: The Sports Barre and I go to Base seven times a week.
Michael: Kanibal Home, we love Kristin, she’s like a sister. We love everyone, we love you.
I love you guys too!! and these ribs….
247 10th St, Jersey City, NJ 07302