Frisella’s opened in my hometown of La Verne, CA in 1993. It seems I have to drive quite a distance to eat seriously killer food and have been hoping to find something along those lines locally. Restaurant.com offered a $25 gift certificate to the Glendora location for just two bucks (details here) so we decided to conduct our research there.
You wouldn’t know it by its name, but Frisella’s is a BBQ restaurant. Maybe the word “Roastery” was a marketing strategy for the slightly uppity foothill communities. Or maybe “Roastery” is a more accurate description than “BBQ”. I’ll explain….
For starters, we ordered the mozarella sticks (which were pretty much what you can get frozen at Smart and Final) and onion strings (which were pretty good). The marinara sauce that came with the mozarella sticks was excellent, with a bright and fresh tomato flavor and a nice hint of garlic. I ordered the half rack of baby back ribs, and chose cole slaw and beans for the sides (pictured above). The ribs were pretty close to perfectly tender and moist, but had barely any smoke flavor. There was about an eighth of an inch of a smoke ring, which means it was probably smoked for less than an hour. They use red oak, which has a more mellow flavor than other hardwoods (like hickory, which is what I prefer), so they should be smoking for much longer. The ribs had a tasty and pleasantly crispy crust from the seasoning rub, but Texans and southerners would scoff at calling this BBQ. Frisella’s ribs definitely suit the Californian palette that tends to be more in tune with propane grills. The cole slaw and beans were bland, and the BBQ sauce was boring and a tad on the sweet side. We also ordered the pulled pork sandwich that came with a side of their homemade (and very enjoyable) potato chips. The pulled pork was nice and moist, but also lacked smoke flavor.
Though tasty, I would not return for their barbequed meats. They certainly beat out Chili’s or Tony Roma’s, but I’m looking for a heartier smoke. They did have a nice selection of italian dishes and the marinara was good enough to pique my interest.