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Torrington raves for Zach and Lou’s Barbeque

Torrington raves for Zach and Lou’s Barbeque

The Maestro of Low and Slow
By Anne Franco McAndrew

Photos by Sabrina Eberhard

Lou Gabriel didn’t just happen upon the barbeque scene. Like so many of us, he was the Bobby Flay in his own backyard, experimenting with different grilling methods. As his interest and expertise grew, so did the number of people attending his backyard soirees. “I began to realize that it had more to do with my cooking than with my personality,” he laughs. As his friends filled their plates and tummies, encouraging words such as “you should really sell this” and “best barbeque around” were commonly uttered.

While maintaining his corporate position as global manager in the specialty chemical industry, Gabriel began his barbeque side hustle. Lou’s son, Zach, a culinary school graduate, joined forces with his dad. They purchased a truck and a smoker, and started selling at the weekly Torrington Main Street Market. Their offerings were humble: chicken thighs, baked beans, and snowflake rolls from Big Y. Business was steady and feedback was strong.

Then the calamity of COVID happened.

COVID gave Lou time to contemplate his life. He took a long look at his career in corporate management and did a 180. He bought an unassuming building in Torrington. Zach and Lou’s Barbeque was born.

Don’t expect swank, because there is no swank in barbeque. The tables are wooden, the utensils are plastic, the meal is served on a cafeteria tray—and you only get one napkin, so tuck a bandana in your back pocket before you go. But remember, don’t judge a book by its cover. Zach and Lou’s was just honored with two major wins in 2023: Waterbury’s People’s Choice Award in two categories, Best Barbeque and Best Ribs. “I didn’t even know we were a contender, I was completely blown away,” Lou declares.

In the annals of culinary history, one can find barbeque all over the world. There’s Texas style, Carolina, Memphis as well as Brazilian, Korean, Jamaican, and more. Zach and Lou’s food falls into none of these categories. “We are our own style,” Lou says.

The choices of meats and sides are many. Their best seller is the pulled pork sandwich. You sauce it yourself , choosing from hot, sweet, or mustard. Sides are served separately; be bold and pile the cole slaw or the mac-and-cheese on your sandwich. It’s pure bliss. The ribs are juicy and moist. And try the smoked pork belly burnt ends that have just the right amount of umami; or the brisket, which has been smoked for several hours, burnt and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. 

As with any successful business, passion is paramount. You will find Lou at his smoker every morning at 3:30 am, prepping enough food for the day, only to make it all fresh again the following morning.

Zach and Lou’s Barbeque, 2936 Winsted Road,

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