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Peruvian-Style Rotisserie Restaurant, Barbacoa, Coming Soon To Ardmore

Barbacoa moved from its popular Upper Darby location to open on Rittenhouse Place in Ardmore. A late May opening is expected.

Barbacoa, a wood-fire rotisserie restaurant that specializes in Peruvian chicken, ribs and brisket, will open on Rittenhouse Place in Ardmore by the end of May.

The restaurant, located at 64 Rittenhouse Place, is moving from its former Upper Darby location. The Upper Darby restaurant, which opened last year, was so popular that some days, there was easily a two-hour wait, owner Guy Buonadonna said.

One reason behind that popularity is the uniqueness of Barbacoa's food, which centers around wood-fire concepts, rotisserie and barbecue ("barbacoa" in Spanish).

The restaurant is known for its juicy Peruvian chicken. The secret? It's brined for up to a day and then put on a double-spin, self-basting rotisserie, is cooked over three-year-old aged oak and then finished with cherry, pear or apple wood for sweetness, Buonadonna said.

"When you taste it you'll know [why it's so popular]," Buonadonna said. "It's juicy, it has a certain flavor—we don't have to put barbecue sauce on it because it has its own flavor—it's cooking overnight, it's unbelievable. … it speaks for itself."

Barbacoa's other staples, ribs and brisket, are also slow-cooked for anywhere from 8 to 22 hours.

The menu will also feature about a dozen specialty sandwiches, five salads, and a fresh fish every day. Sandwiches run about $6.95 to $9.95, and whole chicken meals are $8.99 to $12.99, according to Buoanadonna.

The sandwiches include:

  • A filet mignon sandwich which is slow-cooked over the fire, and paired with onion chutney and sharp provolone cheese on a Sarcone roll
  • A popular Po Boy beef brisket sandwich with onion chutney and Cajun mayo
  • A pulled pork sandwich with cucumber wasabi spread and tricolored coleslaw

"When people come in, they're so shocked at our menu—because you're not going anywhere in this area and getting anything like this," Buonadonna said.

Buonadonna, who grew up with a chef for a father and has been a senior chef for 20 years himself, has been cooking all his life, he said.

"My whole family cooks," Buonadonna said. "But I didn't want to do the typical Italian thing, and I didn't want to do the pizza parlor thing. …  This is something totally different, something that not a lot of people are doing."

Very few people have the patience to learn how to cook over wood, Buonadonna said, but the results are worth it.

"It's a whole different world," he said. "Not a lot of people are doing it because it takes a lot of time and effort to get used to it. It takes time to learn about the temperature of the wood, the taste of wood—it's a little challenging."

The Barbacoa owner estimates that about two-thirds of the Upper Darby location's customers were from Ardmore and Havertown, so for him and his business partner Robert Hayes, setting up shop in Ardmore was a natural fit.

"We like the corridor, we know there's development here, and we like to go where there are other food places specifically. We just love the area," he said.

Barbacoa will be primarily sit-down, with takeout available. The restaurant will seat about 30, and is located at 64 Rittenhouse Place in Ardmore. A late May opening is expected.

Updated 8:38 p.m. on 5/28/12 to clarify that Barbacoa Upper Darby is relocating to Ardmore, not opening a second location. 

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Sam Strike May 17, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Sounds interesting. We should hold a Patch meeting there!
David Lipetz May 28, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Did the Upper Darby location close? The phone number is not reachable.
Amanda Mahnke May 29, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Hi David—yes, the Upper Darby location did close. That was not clear to me in my interview with Guy, but Robert Hayes, one of the owners, has been telling people on the Barbacoa Upper Darby Facebook page that the restaurant has indeed moved. I'll clarify that in the article.
Phillyjazz June 21, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Barbacoa is the real deal. Pollo ala Brasa is not your typical BBQ, but they do that great as well as traditional American Brisket, Ribs and pulled pork (each of which has it's own regional peculiarities within the context of "American Barbecue", A mix of Texas, Memphis, Kansas City and Carolina styles work well here. These folks know how to cook with wood, and keep it subtle. I have yet do really delve into the menu (need to go with a crowd and share) and am looking forward to when they get on their feet and expand to lunch hours. Really good food at really good prices is a killer combo.
joseph j verna July 30, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I am looking for a phone number to order something and give it a try .thanks jv

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