common / Restaurants
Taste of Texas
Philipstown residents are enjoying a unique restaurant experience these days. Not only are they seeing—and tasting—a new eatery as it develops right before their eyes; they have even had an effect on the menu.
The fledgling restaurant is The Roundup Texas BBQ located on Route 9 at the Post Road Hardware, just south of Route 301. Strictly for in-depth research purposes only, this writer has sampled the entire menu and there is only one word to describe the food—delicious.
The Roundup’s menu includes beef brisket, St. Louis-cut pork ribs, chicken, sausage, and even smoked hot dogs. Sides include macaroni and cheese, potato salad, coleslaw and corn bread— all made right on the premises. Barbecue is offered in various combo plates and can also be purchased in bulk by the pound. Catering is also available. Soft drinks only are offered but that will change in the not-too-distant future.
The Roundup operates out of a small trailer for now, with plans to expand soon into a full restaurant and bar. A pleasant picnic area with shaded wooden tables serves those who can’t wait long enough to get home. Many can’t.
The Roundup is owned and operated by Cold Spring builder Bill Villetto and transplanted Texans Linda Vaughan and Roy Hammond, who also happen to be husband and wife. Vaughan holds a PhD in special education administration, and hails from Dallas, while Roy is from Houston. Hammond also wears another hat: aerial director and executive producer of the PBS television series Visions which features stunning aerial tours of locales from across the globe including France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
But back to the food. Just what makes Texas BBQ unique? “It’s not mopped with sauce,” Vaughan point outs out emphatically. “We only serve our sauce on the side. There are places in Texas that won’t even serve sauce,” she adds.
“And Texas BBQ is more beef-oriented,” Hammond says. Getting a reliable supply of beef ribs has been a frustration. “Beef ribs are just not a big part of the diet up here,” Hammond explains. For now, they’re sticking with St. Louis-cut pork ribs.
Even hearing how the meat is prepared and cooked is enough to make a northerner’s mouth water. First, the meat is dry rubbed with The Roundup’s own spice recipes. “The magic is in the length of the cooking time,” Hammond says. “That allows the fat to break down for a much leaner result.” Beef brisket, for example is smoked for 18 hours at 180 degrees.
“It tastes best the next day,” Hammond says.
All three speak with great enthusiasm when they show off the smoker used for cooking their beef, chicken, and ribs. “It’s a Southern Pride and it’s the best, the top of the line,” says Hammond, who noted that the stainless steel convection oven produces “perfectly even smoke” throughout the unit. And the smoker can cook up to 600 pounds of meat. That’s a lot of ribs.
The Roundup uses hickory wood in the smoker, along with some mesquite, and occasionally fruit wood. “But you can’t just go out in the woods and cut down a hickory tree,” Hammond says. In order to ensure that wood used for smoking meat is free of pesticides and other chemicals, The Roundup buys its wood from a farm in West Virginia that specializes in supplying barbecue restaurants.
Last February, The Roundup began testing menu items and recipe options. The market research they employed might be called “The Tailgate” method. “Basically we had a tailgate party here every weekend,” Vaughan says. Their test market was customers coming into the Post Road Hardware. Surprised customers were handed samples of barbecue beef, chicken, and ribs –-and asked for their most honest assessment of how they liked it. “People started coming back. And they wanted catering. And they wanted to be able to have lunch and dinner,” Vaughan says.
“This is an interim step,” Hammond said as he looked at the small but extremely well outfitted trailer that holds and serves the food cooked in the smoker, which is located in a building behind the hardware store.
In the near future the old Post Road hardware will transform to become the Roundup Texas Barbecue and Tumbleweed Saloon. The hardware store will move to the large storage building in the back and the trailer will become the home of the catering side of the business. Villetto says that the full restaurant will offer a more varied menu, including such items as smoked salmon, beef short ribs, shrimp, and chicken wings. “We hope to be in the new restaurant by winter,” he says. The group is working with the Town of Philipstown to receive approvals. The restaurant will stay within the footprint of the old hardware store.
Most local residents know Bill Villetto as a builder. But he tells the story that when he was in the Marines he used to make his “special sauce” for the officers’ mess—and a particular general became quite fond of it. The next thing Villetto knew, he was enrolled in the Culinary Institute of North Carolina, where he perfected his mess hall skills. Little did he know that years later he would be opening a Texas BBQ restaurant in Philipstown.
Villetto met Hammond and Vaughan when they asked him to build them a house in the area. Every time they drove past the Post Road Hardware, Linda would say, “Someday that’s going to be my barbecue restaurant.” Villetto was skeptical, to say the least, but Linda’s persistence won him over. When Bill Delaney, owner of Post Road Hardware, died, Villetto purchased the store and the five acres of property that went with it. Linda’s dream was about to become a reality
If he was once a skeptic, Villetto is a true believer now. “We’re doing really well. The food is very good. That’s why people are coming back. And… there’s no Texas BBQ around here.”