The Holy Texas Trinity! What might sound like a religious artefact, is in fact a plate of smoked, American BBQ featuring the trifecta of Texas-style BBQ: beef brisket, pork ribs and smoked sausage. Of course, if you asked a Texan, you'd be assured that a Trinity is definitely a religious matter and if that’s true, then there is a restaurant Wedding that qualifies as the church of the Holy Texas Trinity in Berlin. Behold, Lino’s BBQ.
“ "a Texas-born German, who drew his first breaths in the very heartlands of American BBQ"
In 2018, Berlin lost two of its best BBQ joints, the Texas beef BBQ master, The Pit, in Kreuzberg, and the Alabama-style Pignut in the Arminiusmarkthalle (now operating under new owners). During this dark time of Berlin BBQ, hope came in the form of a highly dedicated BBQ pitmaster operating in Northern Berlin.
Meet Lino Brandi, a Texas-born German who drew his first breaths in the very heartlands of American BBQ. I've learned about his lifelong fascination for smoked meats and how it led him to the kitchen of Stiles Switch in Austin -one of the most acclaimed BBQ joints in the Texan capital- where he worked for a year, soaking up all knowledge on Texas BBQ. He returned to Germany, did a classical apprenticeship as a cook and then fulfilled his dream of opening of his own BBQ restaurant called Lino’s in Wedding. This was in 2017 and for quite a while he operated under the radar from his slightly remote location in Wedding. Slowly but surely though, rumours of Lino’s extraordinary dedication to meat smoking started spreading across Berlin and once people stepped into Lino’s world, just like me, they tended to become believers of his faith.
“ "rumours of Lino’s extraordinary dedication to meat smoking started spreading across Berlin"
Lino offers the same menu he learned to cook back home in Austin: Beef brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs, pulled pork and cheddar jalapeño sausages. All of his meats are cooked in his custom-built smoker in the back of the restaurant, an incredible device the size of a family car which gets fired up with massive chunks of German oak every morning before Lino fills it with his meats. Eight hours later, magic unfolds as Lino pulls the first pieces from the smoker.
The brisket and the pulled pork can be ordered in buns which come smothered with Lino’s fantastic, home-made BBQ sauces and condiments such as pickles and cheese. The Big Brisket Bun Texas Size (which means more meat) is what you should be eating here, served with dill pickles and red onions. The buns are large and you need the extra meat in the Texas size version for a good meat-bread ratio. It’s the meat plates however, and most especially the “Texas Trinity”, that make this journey to Wedding worthwhile regardless of where in the city you live. The regular Trinity comes with 200g each of beef brisket, pork ribs and jalapeño sausage and pickles and is a true offering to the BBQ gods.
“ "The regular Trinity comes with 200g each of beef brisket, pork ribs and jalapeño sausage and pickles and is a true offering to the BBQ gods."
The brisket (Lino uses American Angus beef for this) has an intense, peppery bark (there is loads of custom-ground black pepper in this rub) and when Lino starts cutting slices of this beef breast the glossiness of the melted intramuscular fat makes every slice shine like an oily sunset at sea. Pure beauty. While the brisket melts in your mouth, the ribs (made from German Schwäbisch-Hallesches pork) are smoked with great care to a point where they don’t quite slide of the bone (to quote Lino: “Everybody can do that, this is much harder. And better.”) but still have a bit of chew to them. And, last but definitely not least, the sausage is a piece of Wurst art; coarse and punchy made from brisket trimmings and smoked to absolute perfection. The sides? Also great, especially the pickles and the double-fried beef fat fries.
“ "Lino’s BBQ is a tremendous restaurant and if you’re going to eat meat, you should do it here."
There is truly only one thing that beats the regular food at Lino’s BBQ and that's his legendary 'Pastrami Fridays'. Once a month, Lino cooks one massive batch of pastrami-style brined BBQ resulting in an intense and salty BBQ experience that has no counterpart in terms of flavour dimensions. It's truly special and (to no surprise) an event that sells out weeks in advance. Fridays are also when Lino pulls out his masterful beef ribs - another ace from up his sleeves in all their chunky, fatty and delicious glory.
Lino Brandi is a chef with a rare trait, he doesn’t compromise at all. Only the best works for him which is why he smokes by hand using German oak (most Berlin BBQ joints use computerised pellet smokers) and why every single ingredient is made in-house, from the BBQ sauces to the coleslaw and bread buns. No corners are cut, and that’s what makes the difference. Lino’s BBQ is a tremendous restaurant and a very strong contender for the best BBQ joint in Germany. If you’re going to eat meat this is a great place to do it. Amen.