Signature Dish: Alex’s Place is Famous For its Baby Back Ribs

Jun 3, 2016

Alex’s Place may be a steak and seafood restaurant, but it is known from Buffalo to Rochester for its baby back ribs.


Barbecue lovers come from all directions to dig into the same ribs that have won awards at food festivals throughout Western New York.


How popular are they? Alex’s Place will serve up 500 racks of ribs in a typical week. That’s 1,000 pounds of slow-cooked pork. And since the restaurant serves about 3,000 guests per week, that’s a full rack of ribs per six guests.


“It’s interesting, because we’re not a typical barbecue restaurant,” said owner Matt Gray, who added that ribs account for 25 percent of the restaurant’s sales. “It strikes me as something that makes Alex’s unique.”


Having won awards at the Taste of Buffalo and the Roc City Rib Fest, Alex’s Place has been able to extend its appeal well beyond Batavia and Genesee County. It’s crucial for the destination restaurant’s success.


Our Buffalo and Rochester markets are a bit part of our business,” Gray said. “Typically, more than 60 percent of our guests come from outside of our county.


“In the last seven our eight years, Alex’s Place has become the place for ribs.”


Alex’s Place prepares its ribs much the same way as other locales, by smoking them for four hours and then chilling them to help break down the meat. Where it differs a little is in the finishing process. Alex’s Place features a brick, charcoal grill right in the middle of its dining room where cooks like Dan Jankowski throw down the ribs for a little char.


Jankowski grilled up a rack for me on Wednesday. It’s a bit of a performance, since only a glass shield separates him from the diners. If you watch closely, you’ll see that he doesn’t brush the sauce onto the meat; he dunks the ribs in a tub of sauce next to the grill.


“It’s fun to watch,” Gray said. “It’s good for people of all ages, but we love it when the kids come up to look in. Danny is our number one grill cook, and he’ll stoke the fire and get the flames going up. It’s just pure entertainment.”


The ribs come out super tender. The grill finish adds texture and enhances the smoky flavor. They live up to their famous distinction.


Alex’s Place offers two different sauces for its ribs, a tomato-based barbecue and a garlic. Which is better? Both, obviously.


“Some of our guests like to get them double-dipped, so we do the barbecue first and finish with the garlic,” Gray said. “Those are very good.”


The ribs sell for $14.99 for a half rack and $22.99 for a full rack. The super rack (one and a half racks) sells for $31.99. All orders come with either a baked potato or french fries.


By MATT KRUEGER, Batavia Daily News