“Next victim!” shouts David Cornblatt, as the long line in front of Bethesda’s Barnes and Noble slowly inches up to his food truck. Cornblatt, a.k.a. “Curley,” not only sells barbecue, but he’s a Borscht Belt comedian, too.
Just minutes before, he advised the crowd that the patron in the white Polo shirt was a dentist. “Need a tooth extraction?” he asked. “Use this guy, he charged me $42,000!” (The guy, who really is a dentist, is a neighbor of Cornblatt’s.)
Curley’s~Q BBQ rolled out in Montgomery County just a few weeks ago, and it already has a following.
In fact, Cornblatt says that one of the Barnes and Nobles employees told him “ ‘you would not believe the amount of people who call [the store] and ask if Curley’s is out there.’ ” (For the record, he’s there on Fridays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.)
Here’s the back story: Cornblatt, who grew up in Potomac and Rockville, had a liquidation business for the past 20 years, but left it a couple of years ago after having a falling out with his brother/partner. From there, a brief foray into iPhone App development didn’t pan out.
But he had always been a foodie, entertaining friends and family with big “to-do’s”—like flying in 100 pounds of crawfish from Louisiana. And his bent for barbecue goes way back.
When he was a teenager, for example, he bought a smoker for his mom for Mother’s Day. “ ‘David, you don’t buy your mother something on Mother’s Day that you want,’ ” he says his mother told him. “So I learned a very valuable lesson. From then on, the gifts were appropriate,” he says.
Nowadays, he uses a home-modified smoker in a Gaithersburg airpark kitchen to cook his meltingly tender brisket and pork, a process that takes from 14 to 16 hours. Fired with lump charcoal and hickory, mesquite and red oak, the meats were surprisingly not as smoky as expected (at least on the day I tried them), with the exception of the woodsy, pulled chicken.
Cornblatt’s homemade baked beans are top notch, as is his punkish-pink coleslaw, thanks to the addition of purple cabbage. Ribs were not yet available when I stopped by, but should be this week.
As for the flag that hangs from his truck, “Voted #1 BBQ by my ex-wife,” he says it’s true. During the planning stages for his barbecue truck, he sent some ribs to his kids and former wife. The kids told him “ ‘Mom said they were absolutely amazing,’ ” recalls Cornblatt.
“If I was that smart to come with it [the slogan], I’d be in marketing and miserable,” he says.
Now, however, he’s having a great time making other people happy. “I’m not just giving them food,” he says of his customers. “I’m giving them a smile.”
Sandwiches, which are filled with a generous ½-pound of meat, cost $8 (chicken) or $9 (pork and brisket) and come with coleslaw and a jalapeno; for an additional $2, you get another side plus a bag of chips.
For locations, check: www.curleysq.com. Twitter: @CurleysQ
For a full review of area food trucks, see my article in the upcoming May/June issue of Bethesda Magazine.