You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Ribs made the same way for three generations

The M&M Ribs truck’s pulled pork sandwich.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

The M&M Ribs truck’s pulled pork sandwich.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Geovanni Lambert (left), his mother, Leona Weeks, and cousin Jarrett Loatman.

Marion and Maurice Hill opened their business, M&M Ribs BBQ, 32 years ago in a stationary trailer. Fifteen years later — a decade ahead of the food truck craze — the Hills moved their little catering business into a truck. There was no Twitter, no food truck festivals, and the truck wasn’t even allowed to park on public streets.

But word caught on. Two generations later, M&M is still turning out barbecue and Southern sides, just like grandma Marion used to make. Ribs, chicken, and brisket are grilled over direct heat of hardwood charcoal, and turned constantly. Current head of operations Geovanni Lambert, the grandson of Marion and Maurice, acknowledges that he runs into naysayers who tell him that it isn’t true barbecue without that low-and slow indirect cooking. “I say you aren’t barbecuing, you’re just sitting there while it smokes. We stand over the heat turning and flipping the meat until it’s perfectly cooked.”

Continue reading below

Today, the pitmaster is Lambert’s cousin, Jarrett Loatman. Wrapped in a puffy down jacket, headphones blasting, tongs in hand, he’s hovering over the grill in a cloud of smoke. He looks like a DJ, deep in a rhythm, but turning poultry instead of tracks. Lambert says it’s this work that makes his meat delicious. Ribs, chicken, and brisket have been rubbed with a simple garlicky spice mixture, the same formula his grandparents used. You can stop there, or get your meat mopped with their popular housemade barbecue sauce, with a tomato and vinegar base, a St. Louis/North Carolina hybrid. Purists may not approve, but there are plenty of hungry customers lining up for his untraditional method.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

The M&M Ribs truck (pictured) sells lots of barbecue, including the chicken dinner (left) with macaroni and cheese and string beans.

On an unseasonably warm February afternoon, construction workers, cops, and couples enjoying the weekend, line up for plates of grilled meat and sides of collard greens, mac and cheese, and candied yams. According to Lambert, the recipes are the ones his grandmother was making three decades ago, all from scratch in small batches. Desserts, when available, depend on the day. Wednesdays and Thursdays it’s banana pudding, Fridays and Saturdays, peach cobbler.

Home base is a gritty space in a Roxbury industrial park. In warmer weather, M&M makes the rounds to popular food truck spots, like City Hall Plaza, and the SoWa market. For now, they bundle up against the cold, and feed lunchtime crews in the otherwise deserted lot. Posted hours are 11 a.m. to
8 p.m., but if the frost keeps crowds away, they shut down early, so call ahead.

Make like a regular and park yourself in the back of a pickup truck, or dig into the steaming Styrofoam containers at the lone picnic table next to the warmth of the big-bellied grill. It’s the perfect spot to chase away the Northern cold with Southern tradition.

M&M Ribs BBQ, 91 Hampden St. (at Kemble Street), Boston, 617-306-0788, www.mandmribs.com

Catherine Smart can be reached at cathjsmart@gmail.com.
Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.