Home Essex County ‘Something New’ at Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q & Pizza in Montclair

‘Something New’ at Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q & Pizza in Montclair

by Jordan and Joelle Hernandez
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Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q & Pizza has been around for a while but is often being discovered for the first time by locals, making it one of Montclair’s best kept secrets. The BBQ and pizza joint is a passion project between the husband-and-wife team of Ruthie Perretti and Eric Kaplan. We had a chance to connect with Ruthie herself to learn about how the restaurant got started and its approach to this flavorful combination of foods. Read on to learn more about what Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q & Pizza — located at 64 ½ Chestnut Street in Montclair — has to offer.

ruthies bbq and pizza montclair

(Photo credit: @ruthiesbbq)

The Ivy at Chatham

Getting Started

Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q & Pizza was started back in 2008 while Ruthie and Eric were dating. Eric is a professional chef who came from a fine dining background where he worked at various restaurants throughout New York City, but he’s a musician at heart. The music is what brought them together. 

“Eric and I met at a Blues Jam while I was working in fashion in New York City,” shared Ruthie.

ruthies bbq and pizza montclair

(Photo credit: @ruthiesbbq)

The two started dating and an idea came up to open their own place. “After many years in the city, it was time for [Eric] to do his own thing and he wanted to do something low-key,” Ruthie said. She went on to say, “His dream was to do BBQ and Blues and I, at the time, was very supportive of that. I was looking to purchase some commercial real estate. With Eric living in New Jersey at the time, we decided to look around in the state.”

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A Unique Find

During a drive with a Realtor® to find a space, Eric found himself in Ruthie’s hometown of Montclair. He called her saying that he’d found the perfect spot and began to describe it to her. She knew exactly the building he was describing because it used to be a much-loved Italian deli that served local families. 

ruthies bbq and pizza montclair

(Photo credit: @ruthiesbbq)

The building is a 1910 townhouse. “We are unusual because we are in a residential neighborhood, not a commercial district. It’s an old building… a townhouse,” Ruthie explained. Initially, Eric was worried about the location. The building’s use for a commercial space had been grandfathered into local zoning ordinances. 

“When I saw the building, I knew right away that I wanted to purchase it. However, Eric had some hesitation because it is so hidden… we are not in the commercial district,” said Ruthie. Ruthie knew that the restaurant would draw a crowd. “Eric questioned if people would come and I said, ‘Ya know, I think they will. This is such a special place. I remembered it as a kid and this whole neighborhood is so unique.” 

A Taste of Home

“I want to do simple food and I want to do it well,” Ruthie said that these were the words of her husband when thinking about what to do with the restaurant. He knew he wanted to do BBQ, but when they purchased the space, they learned that the previous owners had a beautiful pizza oven inside, which is how the pizza side of the business came to be. 

Eric makes everything in the restaurant from scratch and locally sources ingredients whenever possible. Ruthie and Eric own a farm in Western NJ and it’s where they produce locally sourced food for the restaurant, including milling their own flour for the pizza crust. 

ruthies bbq and pizza montclair

(Photo credit: @ruthiesbbq)

Eric is a trained chef from the Culinary Institute of America, and Ruthie shared that he brings this level of excellence even when cooking simple foods like BBQ and pizza. 

“The quality of our food spoke for itself, and people started coming.” She went on to say that it was the young people in the area who really helped their business thrive in the beginning. “We are right down the street from the high school and kids would come and then tell their parents about our food. The parents would come in sharing that their kids insisted they come in.”

Live Music

About two years into the restaurant’s establishment, Ruthie’s started showcasing live music for patrons. “We started bringing Eric’s friends and other musicians in and then the word got out around musicians that this was a great spot for live music from respected musicians because the chef is a musician himself,” she shared. “It all happened organically and now we are a stop for many touring musicians.” Ruthie’s has a regular line-up of live shows. The full schedule for upcoming shows can be found on their website here

The Vibe

“This is a love project. The dating worked out for us and we eventually got married and now we live above the restaurant,” shared Ruthie. Guests of the restaurant can see Ruthie and Eric going in and out of their home and walking their dog while also running the establishment, giving it a comfortable vibe. 

Guests can expect to have a home-cooked meal when dining with all BBQ smoked in-house by Eric. Some of the most frequently ordered menu items include the pulled pork and baby back ribs. 

ruthies bbq and pizza montclair

(Photo credit: @ruthiesbbq)

The side dishes or fixings, Ruthie explained, are “very well thought-out, but not fussy.” Items like macaroni and cheese, buttermilk onion rings, and hush puppies are freshly prepared. Ruthie said the restaurant is best known for its collard greens. “Many people come to us for our collard greens saying that they are some of the best they’ve had outside of the Deep South.”

Ruthie’s is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11:30AM-9:30PM and is BYOB.

See More: 8 Unique Shrimp Dishes in Montclair

More Than Just a Restaurant

In addition to being a restaurant, Ruthie’s offers options for private parties and catering. “We own the house next door to the restaurant and rent it as a two-family property. There’s a great garden where I am always working and it’s available for private parties.”

She went on to share that parties can enjoy the live music due to where the musicians are positioned. The catering menu is also available to bring Ruthie’s to you. There are options to order food by the pound or for large groups. Find the full menu here.

ruthies bbq and pizza montclair

(Photo credit: @ruthiesbbq)

“People are always discovering us,” shared Ruthie. Despite being in the neighborhood for over 14 years, Ruthie says that many guests will say, “We can’t believe we’ve never been here!” And to that, she says, “But isn’t it good to discover something new?”

Stay in the know with @themontclairgirl on Instagram and TikTok.

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