Dinosaur BBQ Preview: Opening Soon in Stamford

Jeff "jfood" Schlesinger

“Did you ever in your wildest dreams think that when you cut a 55-gallon drum in half, filled one side with wood and grilled meats at a Harley Davidson Rally in 1983 that you would be standing in your sixth restaurant in Stamford, Connecticut almost thirty years later?” John Stage, the founder of Dinosaur BBQ, slowly shook his head and smiled ever so slightly as he scanned the interior of his new location and uttered a single word that so beautifully summed it up, “Never.” This soft spoken BBQ master was kind enough to give CTbites an exclusive tour of the almost completed Dinosaur BBQ (named after his partner Dino) in Stamford and we were overwhelmed by the space.

“Upstate New York is filled with barns” and Stage collected reclaimed woods from many of these relics for the walls. Throughout the bar area there are other collectables...a "Bevador" beer refrigerator from the 40’s, stained glass windows from Buffalo, an enormous “Liquor” sign and chicken wire encased rippled glass. Remnants of the building that currently houses Dinosaur’s Newark, NJ location are interspersed throughout the dining areas and Stage reached out to an artisan furniture builder in New Orleans to hand build the all-wood booths, chairs and tables. All of these historical treasures create a rustic, country eclectic feel.

The interior has four distinct areas. The enormous bar area with a 30+ foot bar oversees stools, booths and high tables. It features twenty-four beverages on taps, with nineteen dedicated to beer, four to wine and the last devoted to root beer. There are three other seating areas in the restaurant with total seating for 180-200 guests.

But the heart and soul of the restaurant are the smokers, and Dinosaur BBQ has three enormous Texas-built units that will be fired by hickory wood, only. As Stage told us, “Memphis was my Shangri-la. I started in Memphis and then traveled up and down the east coast, then Mississippi and Alabama and finally Texas. You have to get the basics right.” With enough space in the smokers to simultaneously smoke hundreds of slabs, briskets, pork and sausages, Dinosaur BBQ will maintain the philosophy “firmly rooted in the traditions of Southern BBQ.”

The “Small & Shared Plates” include Fried Green Tomatoes, Jumbo BBQ Chicken Wings with four different sauces beginning with the mildest Honey BBQ or Sesame Honey up to the spiciest choice of Devil’s Duel, plus a “Drunken Spicy Shrimp Boil” and BBQ Sliders with the choice of pulled pork, brisket with a pickled onion jalapeño relish or cheeseburgers.

Then there is the main event, the “True Blue BBQ Pit Plates,” that features great choices of true BBQ. First and foremost are the ribs; and Dinosaur will exclusively serve St. Louis style slabs, dry-rubbed, smoked and finished with the Original Dinosaur BBQ Sauce. Choose from a quarter-slab of three ribs to a full 12-rib slab and then opt for any of thirteen sides from traditional BBQ Beans with Pork to BBQ Fried Rice. Other smoked meat platters include the “Big Ass Pork Plate” featuring a huge mound of pulled smoked pork, and the 14-hour smoked “Texas Brisket Plate.” In addition, the menu includes a rotisserie chicken that is finished over an indoor wood burning grill plus various combination platters including a Family Stylin’ BBQ with a whole chicken, a slab of ribs, a pound of meat and three sides.

For guests not interested in one of the smoked meats, Dinosaur offers “Live Fired Custom ‘Que” and “Combinations,” all cooked over a “Live Hickory Fire.” These options include Rib Eye and Flat Iron steaks, Churrasco Chicken Steak, Pork Chops and the fish of the day, each served with corn bread and sides. A half a pound of Drunken Spicy Shrimp can be added plus a self-designed combination platter is available with two or three meats. 

And let’s not forget Dinosaur’s “Specialty Sandwiches.” These include five different combinations showcasing the brisket, four with pulled pork and another three with Churrasco chicken. Various toppings are available and include house-cured pickles, green tomato relish, pickled onion and jalapeño relish, or caramelized onions. And finally two hamburgers choices, smoked turkey and a vegetarian Smoked Portobello mushroom sandwich.

With the opening scheduled for December 5, Dinosaur BBQ is destined to become a spot for BBQ lovers. Stay tuned as CTbites attends the opening and gives a Behind the Scenes review of this newest addition in Stamford.

Dinosaur BBQ - 845 Canal St. - Stamford, CT 06902