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Posted on Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 9 a.m.

Frugal Friday at Ron's Roadside BBQ: You'll enjoy exceptional food and a personable host

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

You've probably passed Romanoff's, on Pontiac Trail near North Territorial, dozens of times and presumed that the storefront wasn't open or that it only served catering customers. It's very unassuming.

But you'd be wrong, as I was until just recently. There is a small restaurant on that corner which does, indeed, handle catering; but it also offers take-out service, as well as a large table for family-style seating if you want to eat in.

And trust me — whether you take your meal home or eat it there, you definitely want to indulge in some fabulous food at today's Frugal Floozie Friday feature, Ron's Roadside BBQ.

Ron Philipp is the proud chef behind the barbecue joint, and he's also the force behind Romanoff's, which is his family's long-time business. My friends Ruth and Helaine invited me to join them at Ron's for lunch recently, and we had a wonderful meal and lots of fun!

I ordered the Trio on Brio for $9, so that I could try each of the meat varieties offered: brisket, pulled chicken and pulled pork sandwiches on freshly prepared brioche rolls. Truly, I wouldn't be able to pick a favorite; the meats are all unbelievably tender, with a sweet/spicy sauce that is really, really good.

These are much larger than the standard slider, and the order could easily be split so that each of three people gets a sandwich. Add one $2 side dish per person — those, too, are very generous — and you've got a complete hearty meal for an even $5 per person.

Pulled pork or chicken sandwiches are $6, and are the size of a Big Mac — readily halved for sharing. Pick a couple of side dishes — everything from cucumber salad (which Ron recommended when I asked which was his favorite) to pasta to macaroni and cheese — and you've got yet another qualifying Frugal Floozie Friday meal, this one perfect for two.

I highly recommend that you eat in when you stop by for your barbecue fix, because then you'll get to hear stories of Ron's travels in France (he earned a certificate at the famous La Varenne cooking school) and working with Ina Garten at The Barefoot Contessa gourmet food emporium. Be sure to ask him about Barbra Streisand and Martha Stewart, too — Ron's got lots of stories to tell, and was a fabulous lunch companion when he joined the three of us at the table.

The barbecue joint smelled just divine when we walked in; not only had Ron been cooking the meats, but he was also preparing a batch of exceptional and authentic jambalaya, and he offered is generous samples of it. The roux is dark and rich, there's a zestiness from cayenne pepper, and it's loaded with goodies like sausage and okra.

So whether you eat in or take your food home, whether you order a full family meal or a $5 Frugal Floozie Friday feature, whether you choose the brisket or the chicken or the pork, just be sure to visit Ron at his barbecue joint. The food is exceptional, and your host is a really great guy!

Ron's Roadside BBQ
5850 Pontiac Trail
Ann Arbor, MI
Winter hours: Thursday - Sunday, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.

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Mary Bilyeu writes about her adventures in the kitchen - making dinner, celebrating holidays, entering cooking contests ... whatever strikes her fancy. She is also on a mission to find great deals for her Frugal Floozie Friday posts, seeking fabulous food at restaurants on the limited budget of only $5 per person. Feel free to email her with questions or comments or suggestions:

You should also visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — on which she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related.

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.


Mary Bilyeu

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 3:11 a.m.

Ron just emailed me to let me know that his bbq place will be open more hours now: "I would just like to Inform you of our Extended Hours from Tuesday-Sunday 11 am- 7 pm." Yay!!!


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

Well, I stopped in Friday night after the article was written and took home $30 worth of food--I have five kids--that's about what I spend to take home KFC. But, what a difference! I got the family rib deal and an extra pulled pork sandwich, along with the mac and cheese and the beans. All fabulous--the mac and cheese is extremely tasty--I'd like his recipe. We had plenty to eat with leftovers the next day and they do load you up!

Mary Bilyeu

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

Oh, I'm so, so glad you enjoyed it so much! Great food + good value = happy customers ... :)


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

We too had the Family Rib Deal and it was great! The Ribs were meaty and fall off the bone, as another commenter said. He heaped the carry out tray so high that the lid din't fit. We have 1/3 left over for lunch today. The Coleslaw was delicious too. The German Potato salad was tasty, though not like my mom made it. The Rolls were good too. We will definitely be frequenting Ron's in the future. Click on his Restaurant link above to see his menu, hours, etc. They do take credit cards also.

Mary Bilyeu

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

Oh, I'm so glad you enjoyed everything! Great food, nice guy, generous portions ... it's just perfect ... :)


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 12:05 a.m.

Thanks..i'd always assumed this was a dead piece of real theres a place to stop after my frequent pick ups of landscaping supplies at the Rock Shop on n.territorial .

Mary Bilyeu

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

I thought much the same thing - I mean it when I say "unassuming." But the welcome is so warm, and the food is so good, that it's definitely worth your visit ....


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 11:28 p.m.

Another restaurant I'll be avoiding. At the last Health Department inspection I can find (5/6/2011), they had 4 critical violations (expired food, moldy food, food held at an improper temperature) and 8 noncritical violations, for a total of 12 Health Department violations. <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;LastCty=28</a> (for ease, enter 069504 in the License # box).


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 3:29 a.m.

Thanks DBH! Even though I may still frequent restaurants that have risks, I still truly appreciate having the info. Keep up the good work


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

Thanks, Mary. And, @DDOT1962, restaurants with no critical violations (and, hopefully, few if any noncritical violations) are not restaurants that are sterile; they are restaurants whose owners and operators care at least as much about providing their patrons with a dining experience that is both tasty and safe as they care about their bottom lines. But, hey, if you want to frequent a restaurant that, at their last inspection, was found to have food beyond its expiration date, food that had been sitting at an improperly warm temperature for too long, or food that was moldy, knock yourself out. You know what they say - there's one born every minute!

Mary Bilyeu

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.

Oh, I think the information is important to have, and always encourage DBH to stop by and visit my posts. It's just a matter of whether you try a place or not with health inspections as a primary concern; and since I don't get sick - I seem to be a pretty hearty specimen! - I just eat wherever I choose to without looking up these reports myself ....


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 1:13 p.m.

Apparently you're the only one who cares.... You'd be a great one to have as a companion eating street food in Mumbai or Bangkok, eh, let alone a venture to Mark's Carts? A sterilized world is such a boring world...


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

Just remember that if you meet somebody that don't like soul food, they still got a soul..


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 9:37 p.m.

My daughter had a friend whose Mom used to take them to the buffets at Romanoffs--sounded fabulous, but when I went by finally, it looked closed. I drive by there occasionally and always wished I could have tried it when it was open--great news to hear that the BBQ joint is, in fact, open for business! I am definitely going to try them out soon! Thanks so much for the write up!

Mary Bilyeu

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

You'll love it! Let me know what you order and how much you enjoy it ... :)

Top Cat

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

The jambalaya is really excellent. The chicken chili is quite exceptional as well.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

FYI Ron's MAY NOT be open today, I just called, got no answer :(

Mary Bilyeu

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

Were you able to get through and pick up your fabulous dinner???

Allison Camara

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 7:43 p.m.

I go to Ron's once or twice a month normally on a Sunday or Saturday and get the Family Rib meal 2 big sides and a full slab of ribs, the baked beans are to die for I LOVE them more then my dad's, don't let him know, and the ribs are fall of the bone the sauce is not to spicy my 2 1/2 year old daughter loves it but it does have a zing. Everything is so rich we have left overs for days. It's the best food hands down.

Mary Bilyeu

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

Oh, man, you're making me hungry! So glad you already knew about this hidden gem ... :) (I won't tell your dad about the beans ... it'll be our secret!)


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

Ooooh, thanks for this! Haven't heard of the place, but having become a regular at Satchell's, I will definitely have to give Ron's bbq a try!

Mary Bilyeu

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 5:39 a.m.

Oops - sorry! I'm just confused ... par for the course. I was getting Satchell's confused with the former Smoke House Blues (now Smoke House Grill &amp; Pub, apparently - <a href=""></a>. That means there's a new place to try!!! Thanks so much - I'll have to head on down to Satchell's ... :)


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 3:26 a.m.

Mary, not sure what you are referring to w/ Satchell's &quot;old name&quot;, Satchell's is new without a previous history.

Mary Bilyeu

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

I haven't been to Satchell's since it had its old name, ages ago. You try Ron's, I'll head down Washtenaw ... :)


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

Well that makes two of us getting Ron's for dinner tonight lol! Thanks for the excellent write up Mary I had never heard of this restaurant, but after reading your glowing review and reading other people's reviews on Yelp I will be giving them a try. You can never have too many good cue joints in town imo


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

Will do Mary! Just looking at their menu I have a feeling i'm going with brisket or the pulled chicken. I will post a followup later

Mary Bilyeu

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Oh, yay!!! I always wonder if anyone takes me up on my recommendations, so thank you for letting me know. Let me know what you order and how you like it - I'm thinking it's been too long and I need to head over there myself again!


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

I just sent the menu to my husband. Yu, take-out tonight. Thanks for letting us know about this. Ron's dad used to call into the Ted Heusel show all the time with his menu. I'm glad his son is carrying on...

Mary Bilyeu

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

Oh, I'm so glad you wrote! Good memories, great food - you'll have fun chatting with Ron when you pick up your dinner tonight!


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

This sounds good, nothing like getting barbecue under your nails.

Mary Bilyeu

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

Barbecue is such a good time! Be sure to go visit Ron's ... :)