WILLIAMSBURG — In the world of barbecue, the sauce is almost as important as the meat itself. Whether you are staring down a plate of pulled pork, brisket, ribs or jackfruit, the sauce that is going to accompany the feast will factor heavily into the taste profile.
Just as there are dozens of different types of barbecue, there seem to be as many or more types of sauce and innumerable opinions on which is the best. With more than a dozen dedicated barbecue restaurants and food trucks in the Historic Triangle, the choices for locally made sauces is endless.
This is the first in a series designed to highlight the local sauce game. First up: Matchsticks BBQ Co.
When Matt Sileno wrote the business plan for Matchsticks BBQ Co. in 2017, figuring out the right sauces was one of his main priorities in opening what would become a wildly popular food truck turned restaurant.
Luckily for Matt, sauce is something that he has been indirectly studying since he moved to the small town of Goldsboro, N.C. at the age of 10.
“Down there was a spot called Wilber’s [BBQ] and that was the joint for whole hog, open pit barbecue,” Matt said of his early barbecue experiences. “The big thing down there is Carolina-style sauce which has a lot of vinegar, red pepper and other seasonings. That was my favorite growing up. I always knew that when I started making the sauces, that I was going to have a vinegar sauce, which we call our State Sauce.”
Matt says that the first recipe for the State Sauce was popular enough that he has never altered it from his first recipe. The other sauce that Matchsticks started out with, known as Pit Sauce, is on the other end of the taste scale with more of a sweet and tangy profile. A few years into the operating the food truck, Matt came up with a sauce that would please people in both the sweet and spicy camps.
“Our ‘Match Sauce’ was just an innovative thing that happened along the way,” he remembers. “Some people said that they liked to have a sweeter sauce, but they also wanted a punch to it. So that is when we came up with the Match Sauce.”
Over the last two years, Matt has been busy with several projects, not the least of which is opening a restaurant in Midtown Row. On top of all of the trials and tribulations that accompany such a business venture, he has also started bottling his three original sauces as well a marinade, “Marinate It All” and an entire line of barbecue rubs for beef, pork, and poultry respectively.
The sauces are already in some local retails stores such as Whitley’s Peanut Factory on Richmond Road and Matt is hoping to get them into more stores as soon as possible.
“The sauces and rubs have always been something that I could sell on the website or in stores or in the restaurant,” Matt says. “It is just another thing to get the product out there and give someone an option of something a little bit different than what they’re used to.”
For more information the Matchsticks’ products, food truck and restaurant, go to the Matchsticks BBQ Co. website.