Blowing Off Smoke

When he’s not helping sick or injured kids get well, Alan Pinto, MD, associate director of pediatric critical care medicine at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, is often determining the best course of treatment for a nice, fresh brisket or rack of ribs. To him, one of the greatest pleasures in the world is fine barbecue, and he’s worked hard to develop prize-winning, lip-smacking, restaurant-quality barbecued meats.

Dr. Pinto’s cooking has developed over his entire life. “I always enjoyed watching my mom and dad cook on Sundays,”  recalls Pinto, who says barbecuing has been his serious passion for about a decade. “I’ve always cooked. That’s how I paid my way through college and grad school.” His meats are brought to highest quality by “low-and-slow cooking” in his pride-and-joy 84-inch smoker. He wasn’t happy with store-bought sauces and rubs, so he gradually developed his own. “I tried a little of this and a little of that. It took awhile until I got it right,” he says. 

The secret to Dr. Alan Pinto’s mouth-watering barbecued meats is low-and-slow cooking in an 84-inch smoker. His menu often includes exotic options, like moose and elk.

- Advertisement -

How right is it? Ask Jon Pratt, chef/owner of Peter Pratt’s Inn in Yorktown Heights, who uses Pinto’s meats in some of his creations. (Pinto is the “Big Al” on the menu there.) “I put him up there with some of the famous smokehouses,” Pratt says. “Big Al’s barbecue is different because when the meat goes in the smoker, he doesn’t just put it in and walk away. He’s tending it, turning it; he moves it around; he mops it. He treats the pork differently from the beef, the chicken, and the ribs. He knows the right amount of smoke on something, and that’s rare.” 

One collaborative effort of the two friends is bacon. Pratt likes to joke that “The chef cures the bacon, but the doctor smokes it.” In a 2014 New York Times Dining Review of Peter Pratt’s, the pair’s boar-bacon mac ‘n’ cheese was called “an ultimate comfort food.” The bacon also recently received a mention on FiOS1 TV’s Restaurant Hunter

Pinto has won best-barbecue titles in several Westchester competitions. This summer, he’ll be competing at the Hudson Valley Rib Fest in August. He barbecues ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and sometimes even elk, moose, or venison. (No, he doesn’t shop in a moose aisle at the local Stop & Shop; he brings his more exotic meats home from his own hunting trips out West.) 

In his day job, Pinto sees patients ranging in age from newborn to 21 years old. He deals with auto accidents, cancer, birth defects, and more. It’s a high-pressure, high-stakes job, and blowing off steam—or smoke, in his case—is essential. The best feeling in life, he says, is to help a child who’s come into the trauma room, “to be able to turn it around and have them go home.” That would be enough for most of us, but Pinto merely trades his humanitarian passions. “I get great joy seeing people love the food I cook,” he says.

Our Westchester Home Design Awards event is June 26!

Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.