When it comes to smoked brisket - don't mess with Texas! Morfia's Ribs & Pies in Marina del Rey is serving up true Texas-style beef ribs, baby backs, house-made pork hot links, and of course, succulent brisket with the requisite bright pink smoke ring that tells you it's been slow smoked for up to 30 hours in an actual fire-burning brick barbecue pit, mesquite wood chips and all.
As you head down Lincoln Blvd., you could easily drive right past Morfia's Ribs & Pies. It's just south of Washington Blvd., nestled between a self-serve car wash and Brennan's Pub. We first noticed Morfia's while sitting in traffic with our windows down. The delicious smell of smoked barbecue turned our heads toward the Texas flag waving above the big red awning and the line of customers waiting outside at lunchtime. As loyal Baby Bluesists we felt conflicted, but as superfans of Texas barbecue and awesome new places along Lincoln Blvd, we had to check it out.
It's a homey joint with about five vinyl plaid-wrapped tables inside - no booze, no art murals, just straight up Texas barbecue by owner Pete Spiros, a Greek immigrant who moved to Dallas as a teen and found his first job at a barbecue restaurant. He says he scrubbed floors, peeled potatoes and did every job there was to do until he learned to barbecue, and he was hooked for life. Spiros eventually took over the Hickory House in Dallas and ran that for many years, but after he met his wife Morfia who lived in Southern California, he passed the restaurant on to his younger brother and bought another barbecue restaurant that his wife discovered on Lincoln Blvd. and named it after her. That was two years ago.
Morfia decided that while her husband worked his magic in the brick pit, she would make homemade pies and cakes. Her signature baklava cheesecake is a deep dish of rich, moist cheesecake on a graham cracker crust, topped with a layer of sweet Greek baklava.
Spiros gave us a behind-the-scenes look at his brick pit while pulling off juicy bites of brisket, beef ribs and pork shoulder for us to sample. Everything is made in house, and everything is barbecued by him. He apologizes if he's a little tough to understand, but he won't cook while wearing his dentures. His sense of taste isn't as sharp with them in, and he won't serve barbecue that he doesn't approve. His favorites are the brisket and beef ribs, but says that the burgers are top notch too. And if you're in the mood for spicy tacos, you have to try the Dirty Bastard, soft tacos with brisket, pulled pork, barbecue sauce and pico de gallo.
Morfia's Ribs & Pies
4077 Lincoln Blvd. Marina del Rey, CA 90292