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Pork-n' NAT offers made-from-scratch barbecue fare

| Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, 9:24 p.m.
Pork-n-N' at server Felicia McGee brings out a order of smoked barbecue to a table at the Cranberry eatery on Thursday September 13, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

Don Haefner always has enjoyed cooking.

The Cranberry resident missed the barbecue he had enjoyed while working in the South.

His solution was to combine his interests and open Pork-n' NAT.

“It started as a hobby, and blossomed into a restaurant,” Haefner says. “I knew we had recipes people would enjoy that are not readily available in this area.”

Four years ago, he opened Pork-n' NAT, a casual sit-down restaurant next to a driving range on Rowan Road in Cranberry.

It's a source of pride to Haefner that everything on the menu is made on the premises.

“We do everything: All the smoking is done in house. We developed our own rubs and barbecue sauces from private recipes,” he says.

It doesn't stop there, though.

The restaurant staff makes the side dishes from scratch, including cole slaw ($2.25), baked beans ($2.25), jalapeno cornbread ($2) and smoked mac 'n cheese ($3.75).

They even ferment the sauerkraut that adorns one of the house specialties — Brisket Reuben ($8.75) — thinly sliced brisket on marbled rye bread finished off with cheddar cheese and horseradish.

Pulled pork is the most popular item. The lunch crowd most often enjoys it in a Pulled Pork Sandwich ($8.50), served with chips or fries at lunch. For dinner, they lean more toward the Pulled Pork Platter ($11.95) that comes with jalapeno cornbread and a choice of two sides. It's also available as a Pulled Pork Salad ($9.50), which is topped with fries and cheese.

But lots of people opt for platters of the Wood Smoked Baby Back Ribs ($15.95 for the half rack, $21.95 for full rack) or the Brisket ($11.95).

“We're known for our baby-back ribs, because the type of rib (we use) is meaty,” Haefner says.

More daring diners might want to try two non-traditional but tasty items listed among the eight appetizers: the Pulled Pork Quesadillas ($5) and the Pulled Pork Egg Roll ($5.50) that Haefner credits to members of the kitchen staff who created them. They're filled with soft, moist meat and some melted cheddar in the quesadilla and bits of cabbage in the egg rolls, a nice contrast to their crunchy exteriors and great for dipping into the house-made sauces.

Those who like to customize their orders have three house sauces for slathering or dipping — the signature sweet and spicy, smoky or a vinegar-based choice for those who like their barbecue Carolina style.

There's also a commercially made traditional barbecue sauce for those who don't want to explore the other options.

Pork-n' NAT is busiest at lunch and dinner Thursdays through Saturdays, and does a steady take-out business, as well.

A BYOB policy is in place — beer or wine only, Haefner warns. But there's no corkage fee.

“We go the extra mile to please the customer,” Haefner says.

Pork-n' NAT, 8032 Rowan Road, Cranberry, is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Details: 724-776-7675 or www.porknnatbbq.com

Alice T. Carter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or acarter@tribweb.com.

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