Ever heard of a “gambling stick?” Neither had we. It sounds like something we really want to get into, but should probably staunchly avoid—for the sanity and security of our wives and girlfriends and significant others.
But when our own Matt Russo told us that The Gambling Stick has absolutely nothing to do with casinos, and has everything to do with pork barbecue, we were like, “All in.”
Russo had more or less had it with the upscale restaurant scene when he left his job as Chef d’ Cuisine for Nashville’s historic Merchant’s Restaurant nearly two years ago: all the stuffiness, all the politics, and all the bologna that he’d come to accept as normal in a more high-brow environment had simply worn him out. But he wasn’t ready to give up the culinary world all together. He still loved the food; he loved to cook; and he had an idea.
Since then he’s been working on and developing his vision, and it’s finally about to come to fruition. We’re psyched.
As a chef with plenty of experience in the kitchen and ample experience on the butcher block (plus, a southern background and upbringing to boot) it only makes sense that Russo would be a bomb-diggity barbequer. And we’re confident that his soon-to-be BBQ joint called The Gambling Stick is going to be the best in town. Plus, they’re gonna be using PRB pig…hello?
So what is a Gambling Stick, you ask? Quite simply, it is a piece of wood that was used in butchering pigs way back in the day: for ease of both mechanics and cleaning, pigs were slaughtered while hanging upside down from a stick that was threaded through its feet. Mechanically it made sense as the pig was easy to rinse out and all of the innards were visible and easily accessible, but physically this tool wasn’t always successful; it was a gamble as to whether said stick would be able to bare the weight of the pig or if it would break, leaving the animal to crash to the earth. Hence, The Gambling Stick.
We just think it’s a killer name that rolls off the tongue nicely: “Honey, I’m too tired to cook. Let’s grab dinner at The Gambling Stick” or “Man, I’m craving a beer and some brisket… Gambling Stick?”
Regardless of the origin of the name, the origins of the establishment are a couple that we know quite well: Matt Russo and Porter Road Butcher. And those origins will actually be originating this coming Saturday, March 22nd at 11 in the morn’.
The Gambling Stick will offer a fixed menu plate, loaded with a heap of delicious food for just $14:
- Pork Brisket (which they fondly refer to as Pigsket)
- Spare Ribs
- Greens with PRB Ham Hock
- Baked Beans
- Special house-made sauce, on the side
Since Barbeque Saturdays will be going on each and every week, rain or shine, they are planning to offer different scratch-made sides and barbequed pig varieties as time goes on, generating even more excitement and buzz about The Gambling Stick. “We’re really excited to use Porter Road Butcher meat and also want to focus on using local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible,” Russo said. “We’re hoping we can work a deal out with PRB in the future so we can continue to use the best and freshest products.”
The Gambling Stick has future plans to feature a house-made porchetta (pork loin wrapped in bacon, seasoned with herbs, spit roasted, and then sliced in rounds), slow-roasted pulled pork, and smoked and sliced ham, among other piggy delicacies.
So although the weather may provide a bit of a gamble—particularly with this menopausal year we’ve been experiencing—we’re willing to wager that, no matter what the elements throw at us, people will be lining up to throw down their dollars and score big with The Gambling Stick BBQ; amazing food ain’t no gamble here.