Acing it: New BBQ comes to Henry Avenue

Chef Brian Ashworth has a bit of advice for "hoity-toity" chefs who might think that leaving a fancy restaurant job to open a BBQ joint would be easy.

"No way, making good barbecue is hard," says Ashworth, a former executive sous chef at Zocalo who left and opened Ace Biscuit & Barbecue at 711 Henry Avenue in late August. "And when you have your own place, there's an awful lot to think about."

Indeed, just ask Craig Hartman, the former executive chef at Keswick who left to open the BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville and once told Dish that 37 years in upscale kitchens didn't quite prepare him for the art of creating great barbecue.

It's clear that leaving what he calls a "cushy" job at Zocalo to open Ace has been a bit of a shock for Ashworth too. He says they've been doing a "crazy" lunch business, and breakfast is picking up.

He describes his BBQ as "kind of North Carolina-style, but I like to think of it as unique to Virginia and Charlottesville."

Ashworth's pork BBQ is dry-rubbed and smoked for 10 hours, and he's not a big believer in sauce.

"Good barbecue doesn't need sauce," says Ashworth, "but, of course, we make our own just in case someone wants it."

They also make their own buttermilk biscuits.

Located not far from Jackson Burley Middle School, where Ashworth was a student, the space on Henry Avenue may be a little out of the way, but was once Dotties Cafe, a soul food restaurant. Ashworth says that the southern soul food tradition is what inspires him. But he's bringing his own style, too.

For instance, he says he's into "bastardizing the classics." What does that mean? Well, one of the most popular items on the menu is something called the Ace Dip, Ashworth's version of the popular French Dip sandwich. It's a pulled pork sandwich on a parsley- and garlic-buttered bun with caramelized onions and a special smoked pork gravy that Ashworth makes from pork bone stock. Coming soon, an Ace version of the popular Cuban sandwich. Oh, and they cater.

For Ashworth, trading in a fancy kitchen for a smoker is a kind of homecoming.

"I always really loved barbecue," says Ashworth, "it was always something I helped my Dad make."

Correction: The address is 711 Henry Avenue.–ed.


Current local food crazes - barbeque, fro-yo, cupcakes, beer,
and the calorie count of this diet is ??? don't eat all of it every day is the thing.

Nancy Drew is a crummy detective.

Out of the way? Hardly! Maybe just out of the hipster comfort zone. Henry (Avenue, not Street) is just 4 short blocks from the Preston Avenue Bodo's, in the wonderful Rose Hill neighborhood. Now I know where those awesome smells are coming from! I look forward to trying Ace's.

It sounds like he studied under Jinx. Jinx also does not believe in sauce as the meat should speak for itself. I will give it a shot but I doubt it will touch Jinx's barbecue!

I would love to eat here but for me and anyone else who actually works regular business hours (in which it is impractical to get a "lunch out"), I will never make it here since they're only open until 3pm on only M-F. I really hope they consider at least adding Saturday morning hours since the breakfast sounds killer. I'm sure that I'm not alone but glad they are busy.

from one anoymouse to another...order lunch...take out...or have take out breakfast for lunch :) And, you are correct, breakfast IS killer delicious!

I have enjoyed Ace Biscuit & BBQ on three different occasions (twice for lunch; once for breakfast). I was there for the Grand Opening and for breakfast this morning. The food is absolutely fantastic!!

The BBQ melts in your mouth, the Chicken & Waffles are the best I have ever tasted and the the Cider Mustard sauce should be bottled and sold in every grocery store.

I highly recommend this eatery. Plus, the owner is a local businessman with strong ties to Charlottesville. I love LOCAL businesses and will always patronize LOCAL establishments first. Bravo, Brian!

Ashworth and Gabby are owning the BBQ game.
Best spot to get real BBQ and true breakfast biscuits!
House grOund CHORIZooooooo biscuit! Get em fellas.
Leave all those haters in your dust. Big ups! Best food in town.

I agree, hours do make it tough to get there. Would have been quite a few times, but just can't make it with my schedule.

Drat! I was hoping to keep this one for myself for awhile now the lines will only get longer. The biscuits are HUGE! I would recommend sharing one unless you just want to skip lunch.

Better than Belmont BBQ or anyone else in town. Only Gordonsville is better but now I don't have to make a trip as often to get by BBQ fix.


They should do breakfast tacos in lieu of the biscuits.

They plan to add beef ribs to the menu soon.

They need a permit to sell beer/wine.