P.J.'s Smoke "N"
VisitingNewEngland small business partnership
Welcome To Mr. Rogers Smoke "N" Grill Neighborhood in
melt-in-your-mouth smoked brisket to phenomenal wings, Paul
Rogers brings an irresistible taste of smoked foods and grilled favorites to PJ's
Smoke "N" Grill in Medway, Mass.
Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article
created on 6/6/2019.
PJ's Smoke 'N' Grill in Medway, Mass.
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PJ's Smoke "N" Grill owner Paul Rogers
always has something cooking when working what seems like endless hours
create out-of-this world smoked and grilled foods
With baseball cap on backwards and tattoos saturating the arms, Rogers
has that intense but simultaneously always pleasant
let's-get-down-to-work look. He's like a human cup of coffee energized
to work the long hours from early morning to late night to please the
customers and celebrate the virtues
of small business ownership.
The Easton, Mass., native with a degree from Johnson and
Wales University, a world-class culinary school in Providence, R.I.,
somehow has defied his New
England roots and Boston accent to come up with southern USA and
heartland cuisine looking like dishes that could be showcased on
The Food Network. If Guy Fieri tried PJ's, he would most likely
say,"This is so gangster," or "This is lights-out delicious" or "Out of
bounds" as the spirit of the food, the innovation of the chef and the
overall mouthwatering deliciousness puts, well, the "shama lama in ding
"I love to cook," said Rogers, 49, matter-of-factly. "It's all I know."
Paul and Julie Rogers, owners of PJ's Smoke 'N' Grill.
Rogers has worked in corporate, hotel, mom and pop and fine dining
settings, but for many years thought about owning his own restaurant.
With wife Julie supporting his dreams, Paul opened his first
restaurant in 2013 with PJ's Bar and Grill in
Mass. -- a popular dining and drinking spot with a sports bar theme.
Riding high on the success of the Bellingham location, Paul opened PJ's Smoke "N" Grill
(the initials standing for Paul and Julie) in
Located only 12 miles from the Rhode Island border, less than an hour
to Boston and 35 minutes to Worcester, people from beyond the Medway
area are beginning to take notice of P.J.'s with some traveling
appreciable distances to try the food.
Credit a plumber with a love for using a BBQ smoker to inspire Paul.
"A friend of mine, a plumber, had a smoker at home," said Paul. "He
said, 'You gotta try this, it's amazing.' I loved it and wanted one.
The rest is kind of history."
Rogers eventually traveled all the way
to Georgia with some buddies to purchase an outdoor Lang wood burning
smoker -- an industry gold standard. He also got to meet the company
its master creator, Ben Lang.
"Yup, we got to meet him," said Paul. "That was an amazing trip, glad I
Between the Medway and Bellingham locations, Paul works up to 80 hours
a week. For a business like PJ's Smoke "N" Grill that specializes in
slow cooking, the pace is ironically fast but that's fine with Paul.
"That's what I signed up for," said Paul with a smile. "I love what I
Smoked Foods, Other Comfort Cuisine That is, Well, So Gangster!
Sample plate, from clockwise top left, hand cut fries, smoked
smoked brisket, beans, mac and cheese and the Sweet Heat Pork Belly.
Let's start right in...
The Sweet Heat Pork Belly goes beyond mouthwatering
with its cubes of house-cured smoked bacon deep fried and tossed in
spicy honey sauce with sriracha aioli. Smoked
brisket comes out amongst the most tender imaginable through the simple
magic of salt and pepper, dry rubbed and then going through a 12-hour
smoke process. Root beer braised short ribs are braised for
four-and-a-half hours and reconstituted into their own juice, kind of
like a demi-glaze. The Pig Pile combines pulled pork, house potato chips, cole slaw and a ranch drizzle.
The mac and cheese, full-
bodied and flavorful with a three-cheese blend, includes many different
plain, there's pulled pork, Buffalo chicken, short ribs, smoked
sausage, smoked chicken and brisket. PJ' s also makes its own black
pastrami with black, pepper, coriander and garlic.
Smoked wings are brined for
two to three days, housed rubbed at a low temperature, then crispy
fried and dusted with house rub served with bleu cheese. The house rub
includes salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, garlic powder, chili
powder, brown sugar and paprika.
Chicken wings before being served. Photo
courtesy of PJ's Smoke "N" Grill.
The chicken wings go into the smoker for a few
hours, then deep fried and cooled down. The house rub is placed on
again before the customer becomes the lucky recipient. Sauces
include Buffalo, peach bourbon, bacon chipotle, "House of Brownies
Ghost," Sweet Heat and garlic parm.
Chicken wings from P.J.'s Smoke 'N' Grill.
The prime rib (available Friday and Saturday nights) takes a basic salt
and pepper seasoning and is
slow cooked to a perfection that puts the most famous local places for
this dish outside of its prime food attraction.
Prime rib. Photo courtesy of PJ's
Smoke "N" Grill.
Little touches like
cornbread croutons bring new life to often lifeless croutons, such as
the case to accompany this beautiful salad....
Salad with cornbread croutons from PJ's. Photo
courtesy of P.J.'s Smoke "N" Grill.
get a brisket and short rib combination makeover and cooked on the flat
"I prefer the flat top," said Rogers, of the best way to cook a burger.
"It seers both sides and keeps the juices intact."
Burger from PJ's. Photo courtesy of PJ's Smoke "N" Grill.
Daughter Zoe, also a Johnson and Wales University graduate, contributes
greatly at P.J.'s creating the desserts, including this strawberry
shortcake with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream....
Strawberry shortcake from PJ's. Photo
courtesy of PJ's Smoke "N" Grill.
PJ's also defies the confines of a strip mall restaurant
creating a non-generic, much larger than expected family-friendly
shouts out local instead of formulaic. The look conveys a neighborhood joint with its retro-style booths, dining tables with old
news headlines, long front-to-back 17-seat bar
with leather bar stools, ceiling fans, KENO and 12 flat screen
televisions on with news and sports. The restaurant might be relatively new but feels as comfortable and
established as a dining spot in business for a long time.
Dining room at PJ's Smoke "N" Grill.
Bar area at PJ's Smoke "N" Grill.
To add further personality to the restaurant, there's a giant
pig statue (his name is Cletus), Boston Bruins jersey and numerous retro, rural and humorous
wall signs that seem like part of the
Pig statue at PJ's Smoke 'N' Grill.
The drinks menu complements quite well the down-home cooking menu with
robust beer, wine and cocktail menu. Some local brews are available
from Revival Brewing Company, Lord Hobo Brewing Company, Be Hoppy
Brewing Company and StarteLine Brewing. And of course, there is always
the $1.99 Budweiser 16 oz. draft.
Friday and Saturday nights bring live rock and country
Monday and Tuesdays musical bingo and Wednesday "Kids Eat Free" night
for 12 and under with a face painter to provide additional fun.
PJ's challenge that almost shut the restaurant down
Rogers almost saw his business go up in smoke not too long
After running a wildly successful BBQ-style restaurant since May 2017,
Rogers found himself in Oct. 2018 being grilled about the use of an
that reportedly received a few complaints from local neighbors bothered
by the burning wood smell. The Town of Medway then required Rogers to
enclose that smoker or find another solution to remedy the issue.
Rogers initially stressed about what to do next give the high expense
of fixing the issue. After all, he went
through a lengthy process to arrive where he did at PJ's including traveling to
Georgia to buy the cooker, opening the restaurant and the painstaking
hours that ensued to perfect the process of creating these wonderful
smoked foods. Now, Rogers
faced the prospects of shutting down everything he built at this
location or move somewhere else. While Rogers operated several months
without the smoker, things just weren't the same.
"We almost closed," said Rogers. "The community and the town supported
wasn't an option for me. We had to get creative. Julie and (general
manager) Jenna got
creative with payroll and staffing to bide some time for the next move.
I have a great wife, staff and management and couldn't have done this
myself. They really kept things afloat."
Fortunately, Rogers found alternative
innovations by first purchasing a Southern Pride Smoker (a gas
assisted inside cooker). He kept many of the smoked favorites but
altered the menu to include many grilled comfort food options.
The good news: Lines continue to form out the door during peak hours.
And some further consolation, too: Rogers still gets to use an outside
smoker when on the road by catering to family, work and special events!
Fun surroundings at PJ's Smoke "N" Grill, Medway, Mass.
Paul works tirelessly behind the scenes to raise the smoked
foods and other comfort foods to an art form. Julie, with her
connection to the area and the people that live there, works the front
of the restaurant. She acts as
the "social person," as Paul puts it, at PJ's keeping everyone happy.
Zoe keeps the next
generation involved with her skill in pastry creation. Together, they
are a family but one that seems geographically out of place as the restaurant often has "southern" written all over it.
The local population has become more demanding when dining out as many
have traveled across the country and know the taste of authentic BBQ
cuisine. Others might not know the true taste of southern BBQ cuisine,
but sense that what's served here has no relation to the pretenders
serving dishes that bounce and splash around in slow motion on their
corporate, slick TV
commercials. PJ's is the exact opposite by being part of the community
and showing a genuine commitment to the art and science of smoked foods
Very few restaurants in Massachusetts get smoked foods right. PJ's is
one of those places that excels, even rivaling BT's
the local gold standard in creating this type of cuisine. While there's
glory in this profession, few days off and in Paul and Julie's case, a
major bump that happened along the way, PJ's made it through the rain
with the smoke still
"I've been a dishwasher, prep cook, line cook, pretty much everything"
said Paul with a wise, smiling, reflective look in his eyes. "But I
like where I am now owning a restaurant(s) and making all this food for
the customers to enjoy."
PJ's Smoke "N" Grill is located at 112
Main St. in Medway, MA. Tel. 508-321-1193. Web site: http://www.rosettasrestaurant.com.
Also check out PJ's Facebook fan page as well as on Instagram.
Also near Medway: If it's the weekend and
you're looking to do a little antiques and shabby chic shopping, head
on over to Winsmith
Mill Market in Norwood, Mass. Hundreds of vendors on a 27-acre
former tannery site!
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