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A giant rib with red meat clinging to it.
Newly offered on weekends, Morgan’s pastrami beef rib.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

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A Spin on Pastrami That Might Outshine the Original

Morgan’s goes in a new direction with short ribs

Deep red, richly textured, salty, and slightly smoky, pastrami is the city’s signature meat, with a long history that goes back to the German Jewish delis of the late 19th century. It’s usually made with brisket, but lately other cuts are given the pastrami treatment, while the brisket version is continually finding new uses, in things like pizza, naan, tacos, and egg rolls.

Some of its most recent star turns have been at Texas-style barbecues in the city. There, it is treated in the traditional way, except the brisket absorbs more smoke, making it perhaps more of a smoked-brisket-meets-pastrami hybrid. But that didn’t stop us from classifying Hometown BBQ’s pastrami sandwich as the second-best in town in an Eater NY face-off earlier this year.

Pastrami reinvents itself, this time in the form of a dinosaur-size beef short rib, at Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue (267 Flatbush Avenue, at St. Marks Avenue, in Prospect Heights). This hefty chunk of meat, falling off the bone and nicely fatty, is newly available on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until it runs out. I dropped by this past Saturday with a couple of friends to check it out.

Of course, this is not the first appearance of a pastrami beef rib in the city. To general acclaim, chef Kwame Onwuachi at Lincoln Center’s Tatiana treated his pastrami wagyu beef rib as a Nigerian suya, a giant kebab served with a mustardy peanut sauce and hot rolls in a skillet.

But the rib ($31) at Morgan’s from current pitmaster Cenobio Canalizo is smokier and a little more coarsely textured than Onwuachi’s. He soaks it for eight days in brine, then smokes it seven hours over oak, creating a nice blackened bark opposite the bone. It is finished with a light honey-mustard glaze before being yanked from the smoker and served with very grainy deli mustard. The result is a fragrant pastrami, with a smokiness that doesn’t dominate the flavor. This pastrami rib still tastes like pastrami, and not just another iteration of smoked brisket.

Morgan's Brooklyn Barbecue

267 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217 (718) 622-2224 Visit Website
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