Have you ever wondered where the delicious enticing smoky aroma wafting over the Village of Rhinebeck comes from?
Hey Hudson Valley – if you were to follow your nose, it would lead you right to Smoky Rock BBQ on Montgomery Street across from the Dutch Reformed Church.
Smoky Rock is all about rediscovering an American Tradition, as it says on the front of this eatery’s menu. Dimitri and wife Nike (pronounced Nicky) Psichas are the proud owners of this unique restaurant. Like the father of a newborn, Dimitris, who “stays in the back” brims with pride and passion about his food. Dimitri, born and raised in Greece, has chosen to pursue the uniquely American art of BBQ.
Why, most would ask, eat barbeque cooked by a Greek chef?
All it takes is one taste of Dimitris’ ribs, brisket, smoked fish or other tasty dishes to get the answer. Dimitris has tirelessly pursued the fine art of barbeque.
Inspiration struck one day in May of 2014, as Dimitris and Nike passed the vacant commercial building at 6367 Montgomery Street on a drive through Rhinebeck. At the time they owned and operated Coco’s in Hyde Park, but Dimitris, who was looking to move on from traditional Italian fare, saw the property as a perfect opportunity to pursue his dream of cooking barbeque. After 15 successful years, the doors to Coco’s closed and the doors to Dimitris and Nike dreams opened.
The fine art of barbeque: maple, hickory, cherry, and apple
Dimitris is a practitioner of the fine art of barbeque. There are many factors that make Dimitris a true barbeque artist. There are no digital controls on either of the two barbeque smokers at Smoky Rock. Instead of digitalized, propane assisted smokers, Dimitris uses only thermometers, wisdom, experience and wood to smoke his meats and fish.
Four types of wood are used in different combinations to get just the right flavor: maple, hickory, cherry, and apple. All the wood, like the meat Dimitris prepares, are locally sourced whenever possible. Combining the woods to produce the desired flavor and consistency has taken years of trial and error. Never one to rest on his laurels, Dimitris continually works towards perfection in all his meats and dishes.
Dimitris moved from Greece to the US in 1993 looking for a better life, starting out as a dishwasher in a Kingston restaurant. Although he had no formal culinary training, he developed a passion for and learned about cooking through observation and experience at several restaurants. His first passion was for cooking cheesecake, which he still bakes for Smoky Rock and which sits among the huge brownies, pies and other sweets in the dessert case. His love for Italian cooking spurned Dimitris and Nike to operate Coco’s in Hyde Park. Several years ago, Dimitris discovered he had a real passion for, and interest in , cooking barbeque. What started out as a backyard hobby, cooking different barbeque dishes for friends and family, developed into somewhat of an obsession for Dimitris. Although friends tried to dissuade and discourage him from taking the risky jump from Coco’s to a new barbeque endeavor in Rhinebeck, Dimitris and Nike followed what their hearts were telling them, closed Coco’s and opened Smoky Rock in May 2014.
Slow smoked with a dry rub for 14 hours
Although Dimitris has been cooking barbeque professionally for the past 4 years, one would think they were tasting food prepared by a seasoned barbeque veteran. Combinations utilizing 25 different spices are used in the preparation of the chicken, pork shoulder that is smoked for 16 hours. The brisket is brined for 48 hours and then slow smoked with a dry rub for another 14-16 hours. The pork belly is brined for 7 days and then grilled until crispy. Wild caught smoked salmon and trout are offered seasonally.
Dimitris has recently added two new items to the menu: turkey pastrami, which is lighter than the beef pastrami and perfect for those who don’t eat red meat, and tongue. I was lucky enough to be able to sample the tongue sandwich. The tongue is brinded for 20 days, boiled for 6-1/2 hours. It is then sliced and piled on rye bread with mustard and pickles. I ate one-half fully intending to share the other half later in the day with a friend. needless to say, my taste buds got the best of me and my friend didn’t even get to sample a single bite of the delicious sandwich. The meat was tender, seasoned perfectly, but not so much that the delicate and unique taste of tongue was lost.
Lunch, dinner, and all-you-can-eat brunch
In addition to offering lunch and dinner, Smoky Rock offers an extensive all-you-can-eat brunch on Sundays from 12-4 that includes scrambled eggs, pasta, ribs, house smoked bacon, pulled pork, brisket, smoked chicken, and house-made corn bread.
The large bar offers an extensive selection of imported and domestic wines, over 30 bourbons, NY State craft beer and a cocktail list, including Smoky Rock’s own specialty drinks. The Smoky Rock Martini is their spicy take on a classic cocktail that consists of Sriracha vodka, Smoky Rock BBQ sauce, and pickle and olive juice. Mojitos and margaritas are made from scratch and moonshine lemonade are the perfect drink for a warm summer night on either of the two pet-friendly patios. On weekends, the bar offers free house-made, seasoned potato chips that are not to be missed. The delicious potato chips can also be ordered loaded with pulled pork and melted cheddar cheese.
Smoky Rock is a family affair
When you visit Smoky Rock you may notice that it is a family affair. Dimitris and Nike’s three children all pitch in and are familiar with every aspect of the restaurant business. This aspect adds to the warm, family atmosphere that is Smoky Rock.
Smoky Rock BBQ is located at 6367 Montgomery Street in The Village of Rhinebeck. Their hours are 11am-11pm every day except Wednesdays when they are closed. Brunch is served on Sundays 12-4pm. Reservations are accepted for parties of five or more. Call for information (845) 876-5232.
Smoky Rock BBQ in Rhinebeck is one hot ticket
by Arlene Wege • October 14, 2014
Original article posted on The Observer
Before Smoky Rock BBQ opened in Rhinebeck on Memorial Day weekend, owners Dimitri and Nike Psichas spent four months preparing the kitchen for their special menu. All the work appears to have paid off.
“Culinary experts from Virginia happened to come to our grand opening, and they said that the dry rub was ‘right on,’” Dimitri recalled with pride.
Long-time residents of Hyde Park and former owners of Coco’s restaurant there, Dimitri and Nike are experts at what they do: he is a passionate master of BBQ; she cooks, handles staff hiring and training, bartends, chooses the menu specials, and organizes the gallery exhibits on the upstairs level.
“I love what I’m doing,” said a very welcoming Dimitri on what he termed their “slow” day at the restaurant, on Route 9 near the post office. (Smoky Rock is closed on Tuesdays.) “When I saw this location, I knew I wanted to do barbecue. I use no propane. You can keep the temperature even with wood; it just takes common sense and experience.”
Dimitri carefully chooses the woods that smoke the beef, pork, and vegetables: maple and hickory.
“Our beans we bake for eight hours and collard greens for six hours. The rub we created that we use on the meat has 16 spices,” he said, adding, “Barbecue is American original food. Ours is authentic.”
Smoky Rock offers both New York-style barbecue and St. Louis-style barbecue.
Without giving away family secrets, Dimitri easily explains how the same cuts of meat can be prepared in different ways that result in fall-off-the-bone, dry-rub, or wet: “People may not know the difference between the two different types of barbecue. Meat quality has to be consistent. St. Louis are thick ribs. New York-style is off the bone. The same ribs are just differently cooked, baked, or grilled.”
Downstairs in the walk-in cold room, choice cuts of beef and pork are either marinating or rubbed and hang, patiently, for the next six months or so, at which time they will delight the palates of diners. Some customers will be pleasantly surprised at the variety of vegetarian offerings as well, including salads, Mac & Cheese, and organic Eggplant ala Liky. Liky refers to their 9-year-old daughter Vasiliki. The couple also have a 16-year-old son, Alex, and an 18-year-old daughter, Christiana.
Upstairs in the restaurant and the second-floor gallery, customers have even more to enjoy, from desserts to art to music. On Thursday evenings, diners can have a side of live music with their meal. Delicious desserts are offered from Culinary Institute of America graduate Ricki Feller.
“We met through friends and instantly hit it off,” Ricki said of Nike and Dimitri. “I don’t just have a passion for baking – I have a passion for making people happy and feel good by providing healthy, alternative desserts that are not only good for your belly, but good for your soul. Occasionally, clients will be surprised by an offering of free dessert tastings. We also do special orders, from pies to extravagant offerings.”
The first art exhibit at Smoky Rock BBQ will have an opening at the upstairs gallery on Sat., Oct. 11.
Hyde Park artist Tatiana Rhinevault met the Psichas family through one of her art students. She is well-known for images that reflect her native Moscow, but she is aiming to surprise visitors with American-theme art, complementing the images of James Dean, Ford Mustangs, and Route 66 that decorate the bar and restaurant areas.
SMOKY ROCK BBQ
6367 Mill Street (Route 9) in Rhinebeck
Outdoor courtyard area is pet-friendly!