The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Riverside BBQ owner Dave Manganello with its 2014 award from Ribfest. Emelia Attridge photo.

Riverside Barbeque Co.

Where: 53 Main St., Nashua
Hours: Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Call: 204-5110

Rocking out at Riverside
From Sausage King to king of the ‘cue


 When Sausage King owner Dave Manganello decided he was ready for a change a year ago, he really went for it, completely overhauling the Nashua joint and opening a new restaurant in its place. It’s still the same people inside, but instead of sausage, Riverside Barbeque Co. is serving up brisket, pulled pork and Memphis ribs.

“If you’re not changing in this business, you’re dying,” Manganello said. “The business model is different, what we do in the back is different — basically the address stayed the same. While we kept a couple of the menu items, we do them the way that Riverside does them, and not the way that Sausage King does them.”
Manganello knows his barbecue. He’s been involved in competitive barbecue for over a decade and has competed at Ribfest since its inception. He even took a course to become a certified barbecue judge.
“The competitive piece of it is a different animal entirely,” he said. “It’s a process taking it from that competitive-style cooking into commercially viable product.”
Riverside Barbeque Co. opened back in November, and Manganello said the transition has gone well.
“I’ve noticed almost immediately a 50-percent increase in regular repeat customers, people we’ve never seen before. The demographic changed from 18- to 30-year-olds to more like 22- to 50-year-olds,” Manganello said. “The culture has changed not only because of the cuisine change. … It’s about bringing a type of food that most people are unfamiliar with or super familiar with in a way that they will appreciate.”
The menu features items like beef brisket and pulled pork, Memphis ribs and sandwiches, plus classic barbecue sides (the kind you really find south of the Mason-Dixon line) like hand-cut fries, cornbread, collard greens and cole slaw. There are craft beers on the menu and on tap, too. 
New England certainly isn’t known for its barbecue; that’s why Manganello and kitchen manager Andrew Thistle have used the best regions of barbecue to inspire their menu, even with a New England twist.
“We tried to be true to the region that that item is best known for. For example, the Texas brisket is done the way they would do it in Texas. Carolina isn’t known for brisket, Texas is. Conversely, beef isn’t all that big of a deal in the Carolinas. But in New England you have to be an amalgamation of the nation’s best barbecue styles,” Manganello said. “For some New Englanders, barbecue is burgers and dogs at Uncle Jim’s house on the Fourth of July. … Slow-smoked meats, done through tradition and through the annals of barbecue history, is what we’re trying to bring to the table.”
“We like to take things from the places where they’re most popular, and put our own twist on it so that people in our environment understand it,” Thistle said.
That includes New England-inspired sauces and flavors right alongside classic regional sauces, and customers can order and add the sauces themselves. 
Manganello and Thistle’s next plan is to offer a food truck or trailer to bring barbecue to the customer. Years ago, the Sausage King had sausage carts parked in parking lots in the city, but the City of Nashua cracked down on open-air food carts. This next step may be something new, but it’s still fundamental to the Sausage King’s roots.
“What we try to do is bring that balance to barbecue, because barbecue’s a religion to people,” Manganello said. “It really is done in the history of our nation’s cuisine, because there is no more American cuisine than barbecue.” 
As seen in the July 10, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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