Winners announced in Pittsburgh's Best Ribs Contest

See which of the top finalists in the Pittsburgh's Best Ribs competition scored the highest in the blind taste test at WPXI.

PITTSBURGH — Thousands of votes were submitted on and on Wednesday, I surprised the winners of the Pittsburgh's Best Ribs contest.

Finishing in third place was JT's Rib Shack, located in Penn Hills.

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Owner James "JT" Taylor Jr. has created a number of mouthwatering sauces that place his ribs among the best in Pittsburgh.

"The latest addition of the sauce family came about two years ago. I was sitting around, bored and I said, 'Let's make up another sauce.'  We came up with the Caribbean Jerk, which to me, is probably the most amazing sauce on the planet," said Taylor.

Pittsburgh fell in love with the flavors and awarded JT’s Rib Shack third-place in the competition.

“To have the outside public think about you, nominate you and vote for you is a great feeling. It obviously means you must be doing something right,” said Taylor.

From Penn Hills, I traveled to Brentwood, the home of Rowdy B.B.Q.

What style of barbecue is Rowdy most famous for?

“We do Pittsburgh Barbecue,” said owner Steven Kingsland.

The restaurant tries to keep their products local and uses wood from the area to smoke their famous ribs.

“We use mostly local wood, cherry, oak, locust--stuff that comes from Pittsburgh. It’s handpicked by local tree guys. They drop it off and we hand split the wood,” said Kingsland.

The exclusive Rowdy B.B.Q. sauce was a big hit with our judges, landing first-place in the taste test.

“Our sauce is very sweet, combined with our salty rub, it’s perfection,” said Kingsland.

Rowdy B.B.Q. took second-place in the overall contest, and is grateful to the loyal customers who voted.

“I’m very flattered. It’s the customers, the employees that work here that put everything into this and the fans that voted. Really, it’s very flattering,” said Kingsland.

Our final stop of the day was Two Brothers Bar-B-Q in Presto, the first-place winners of the Pittsburgh's Best Ribs Contest.

Two Brothers uses large custom made smokers to achieve their award-winning flavor.

“We try to take new approaches to barbecuing with the old fashion method of using hardwood to smoke our product,” said owner, JP Mackovich.

While customers count on the fast service Two Brothers provides, crafting such quality products is not a fast process.

“True, good barbecue takes a really long time to prepare. You may come to Two Brothers to get a pulled pork sandwich and it may take a minute, but it probably took about 12 hours for you to get that pork sandwich. There aren’t many places where your sandwich takes 12 hours to prepare and 30 seconds to get,” said Mackovich.

Mackovich said this award means a lot to the owners and staff at Two Brothers.

“Our guests took the time to vote for us, and that really means something because time is a precious commodity. It really means a lot,” said Mackovich.

Congratulations to Two Brothers Bar-B-Q for being voted Pittsburgh’s Best Ribs.


Pittsburgh’s Best Ribs blind taste test was held on Aug. 23 at the Channel 11 studios.

The top seven finalists were invited to submit a signature flavor of ribs for our panel of celebrity judges.

We received a wide variety of flavors, from traditional barbecue to a Caribbean jerk sauce. One restaurant even brought a flavor called "Honey-A-Must" sauce that was a judge favorite.

The scoring was extremely close, with first and second place being separated by only a one-point margin. The winner of the taste test was Rowdy BBQ in Brentwood, with its delicious smoked ribs scoring big points with the judges. The mouthwatering ribs from Two Brothers Bar-B-Q and Catering in Presto were a very close second, with many judges asking for more after tasting. The third-place winner was the honey mustard ribs from JT’s Rib Shack in Penn Hills.

The ribs were judged on taste, appearance, texture and tenderness.

Voting will opened to the public Monday, Aug. 27 at 3 p.m. on and closes Wednesday, Sept. 5 at 3 p.m.

The winners were revealed during the week of Sept.10. Award plaques will be given to the first-, second- and third-place winners as determined by the public vote. Award certificates will be given to the remaining finalists.


Pigs 2 Peaches –New Brighton

Pittsburgh BBQ Company-  Pittsburgh

JT’s Rib Shack- Penn Hills

Two Brothers BBQ- Presto

Roxanne's Take-Out & Catering- Pittsburgh 

Carmi Family Restaurant- Pittsburgh

Rowdy BBQ- Brentwood 


1. The top rib restaurants will first be determined by the number of valid nominations received and second, by the willingness of the rib restaurant to participate.

2. The nomination process will open Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 3 p.m. and close Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 3 p.m. Our finalists will be determined at that time and will be contacted on Friday, August 17, 2012.

3. A taste test will take place at the Channel 11 studios during the week of August 20. Each finalist must deliver a sample of ribs to be judged in the taste test. If a restaurant does not show up for the taste test they will be disqualified.

4. Voting will open to the public Monday, August 27, at 3 p.m. on and close Wednesday, September 5 at 3 p.m. Each registered user will be allowed five votes per hour. Voting results will remain hidden.

5. The winners will be revealed during the week of September 10. Award plaques will be given to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners as determined by the public vote. Award certificates will be given to the remaining finalists.