Sam and Nick Silvio take over Hawg Jaw Fritz in the Northland

Sam and Nick Silvio know a few things about meat. The brothers co-own Em Chamas Brazilian Grill, the eight-year-old upscale churrascaria in the Northland.

The Silvios are now turning their meat expertise to traditional Kansas City barbecue. Last December, their sister, Gina Silvio, bought Riverside barbecue shack Hawg Jaw Fritz from Bud and Marlye Laub, and she has hired her brothers to operate the restaurant (a 2012 Pitch “Best of” award recipient for best new barbecue), which offers cherry wood–smoked chicken, ribs, brisket, ham, turkey, sausage, and pork shanks (sold as “pork wings”).

“We bought a mom-and-pop barbecue restaurant from the original mom and pop,” Sam Silvio says. “We don’t want to change it too dramatically.”

Nick Silvio, a full-time firefighter in Kansas City, says he has tweaked some of the Laubs’ recipes, but much of the four-year-old barbecue joint’s menu remains intact, including the popular, crispy sweet-potato fries dusted with nutmeg and served with a sweet vanilla dipping sauce.

“Yeah, I know it sounds like a little much,” Nick Silvio says, “and I was concerned about it. But it’s really very good, and our customers love it.”

So much so that the Silvios have made it a regular side dish, along with coleslaw (seasoned like Buffalo wings), cheesy corn and baked beans.

“I did change the recipe for the baked beans,” says Nick Silvio, who frequently cooks for Kansas City Fire Station No. 24. He also changed the recipes for the cheesy corn and the pulled-pork rub and added a new barbecue sauce.

“The Laubs had a spicy barbecue sauce and a sweet one, which we still sell,” he says. “But I created a new one called Boss Man’s sauce that’s not too spicy and not too sweet.”

The Silvio brothers also upgraded the quality of beef smoked each day by longtime pitmaster Catherine Thompson.

“We’re now using 21-day-aged Choice Sterling Silver Angus beef,” Sam Silvio says.

Nick Silvio says he plans to add a few more menu items, including his recipe for a burnt-end chili and a Southern-style barbecue sauce that’s heavier on the vinegar and mustard.

“But really, this place has an incredibly loyal clientele that like everything we make here,” he says.

What Hawg Jaw Fritz doesn’t have yet is a liquor license. Nick Silvio says the plan is to offer “40 to 50 different microbrews in a few weeks, and 15 different kinds of root beer.”

The nondescript building on Gateway Avenue, north of the Argosy Casino, seats about 20 inside and has a patio with an additional 50 seats. It’s not too pretty and a bit cramped, but it’s impeccably clean.

“We can get swamped at lunch,” Nick Silvio says, “but so far, everything has been running smoothly.”

Hawg Jaw Fritz BBQ (4403 Northwest Gateway Avenue, in Riverside, 816-741-4294) is now open for their summer schedule: from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed Sunday. 

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink