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[whitespace] Calling Dibbs

Out-of-the-way roadhouse serves up ribs well worth searching for

By Joe Mangelli

IN THE IRON TRIANGLE FORMED BY Zanker Road, Old Bayshore Highway and the egress to 101 sits a labor of love. Nestled in the warehouses and surrounded by enough concertina wire to secure the fence line at Guantanamo Bay is Dibbs Ribs. Lawrence "Dibbs" Hodge began cooking at the age of 10, memorizing the secret family recipes that Grandma Bernice religiously recreated for her community. Everybody called her "Big Mama," a woman famous for "down-home" delicious barbecue, which the family served up to sell-out crowds at revivals and special events at the Prayer Garden Church in San Jose. Encouraged by his Uncle Vincent, Dibbs and Vincent became partners and have wagered the family legacy on this out-of-the way roadhouse.

In what used to be a Chinese eatery and a former breakfast joint, Dibbs is bare-bones, a throwback to the 1950s. The focal point of the decor is a framed Forty Niner jersey signed by since-gone Merton Hanks. (By the way, "Where is Merton when we really need him?") Ribs here are not the manicured kind in the TV commercials with the jingle. These are of the Sunday afternoon picnic variety--quality tender meat caressed with a pepper and garlic rub and coated slightly with chunky hickory sauce. They are easily nudged from the bone by a mere flick of the teeth. Baby back rib dinners ($10.95) include seven meaty ribs, a chunk of fresh bread and a choice of any two sides: herb rice, baked beans, potato salad or mixed green salad. A smaller version ($7.50) is available for lunch. In addition to things like Creole sausage plate ($7.95) and smoked lemon chicken (7.95), Dibbs offers Texas-based Fastie's Famous Fried Chicken (Thursdays only) for $6.95 and Catfish (Fridays only) for $7.95. If you stand at this insane juncture of industrial frontage road at rush hour, you wonder how Dibbs gets noticed at all, but people are starting to pay attention, in spite of the location. Dibbs Ribs is open weekdays from 11am to 8pm (until 9pm Friday) and Saturdays from 1 to 9pm at 1764 Old Bayshore Highway; for more information, call 408.437.8960 (fax: 408.437.8962).

Truffling Matters

In case you missed this on the news, there is an international dispute between the United States and the fledgling European Union over the importing of hormone-treated U.S. beef. In retaliation, the U.S. has imposed a 100 percent tax on certain European delicacies. One item hit hard by the tax collector is truffles. This reverential delicacy, which has been in demand since Caesar was a centurion, has always been imbued with mystical powers. With the new "truffles tax," this commodity is probably the world's most expensive food item. In spite of astronomical prices, Chef Paul Bertolli and co-owner Bob Klein of the Oliveto Restaurant in Oakland (5655 College Ave.; 510.547.5356) have taken a "price is no object" approach to securing these magical fungi. They have flown to the ancient oak, chestnut and poplar groves of northern Italy to join the tartufai (truffle hunters) and their dogs in hot pursuit. If truffles turn you on, go to one of Oliveto's White Truffle Dinners, held Nov. 10-13. Price? Don't ask. Chef Bertolli also supplies limited quantities to the French Laundry in the Napa Valley, Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Oakville grocery stores (there's one in Los Gatos, so that may be the best local bet).

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From the November 4-10, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. MetroActive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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