Greg Rivaldi is a man on a mission: to bring Pedro’s Santa Maria Style BBQ to the people of Kitsap County. Co-owned by Greg and his two brothers Dave and Chris, Pedro’s is truly a family affair, with the name a tribute to their late father. “We named our business after the biggest fan of Santa Maria Style barbecue we know, our father Pedro.”
The brothers have been barbecuing almost their entire lives. They decided to start a small barbecue business about five years ago on the Central Coast of California, where Santa Maria barbecue originated. They were inspired by the hugely positive feedback they received from friends and family near and far from home. “We always loved to barbecue for dinner, parties and special occasions and were told multiple times we should start a barbecue business,” says Greg. “This happened to all three of us, all over the world, so eventually we decided to make it happen.”
After about a year in California, in 2018 the brothers moved the business up to Kitsap County and brought the family’s recipes and traditions with them. “We barbecue on a pit grill over oak wood using techniques we were taught by our father, grandfathers and uncles. Most of our recipes are family recipes that have been passed down for a couple generations."
Developing a menu for Pedro’s has been a great opportunity to re-connect with family, says Greg. “The dry rub we use on our meat is actually a recipe our grandfather developed in the 1950s. Our aunt found the recipe and sent it to us a few years ago. We use our grandmother’s recipe for pineapple upside-down cake, I remember watching her make it when I was a small boy.”
Family influences are evident in other offerings. “We named our chicken sandwich after our Uncle Mike, because we use his technique for grilling and finishing the meat, but we combined it with another family member’s unique marinade.” Greg adds, “We still argue with Uncle Mike about the proper technique for grilling garlic bread, but I think, deep down, he knows we do it right.”
The care taken with each recipe extends to the wood it’s barbecued over. Red Oak from California is mixed with high-quality Washington Oak that comes from the Colombia River area near Vancouver.
While Greg retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2018 and all three brothers work day jobs outside of the barbecue business, their attention to quality and giving their customers the finest barbecue and sides are always top of mind. “There’s nothing better than introducing people to great Santa Maria-style barbecue or if they’re already tried it, reminding them just how good it can be,” says Greg. “We especially enjoy it when someone originally from the Central Coast, where Santa Maria barbecue is from, tries ours and lets us know we got the unique flavor and style just right.”
The lessons they’ve learned from appearing at farmers markets and large events have taught them a lot about mobile food preparation and serving. “We’ve learned how to optimize the quality of our food when cooking and holding it over time at the market. Providing great barbecue fast over a period of time is a very different skill than preparing a large barbecue meal for a dinner or banquet.” To those who might be inspired to start their own mobile food business, Greg says, “Make sure you prepare something you like to eat yourself. You’re going eat quite a bit of the leftovers you have after events.”
Making and selling high-quality barbecue in the Pacific Northwest is not without its challenges. “Barbecuing in the rain and cold in the winter can be challenging. It takes longer for the meat to cook and we burn a great deal more wood when it’s rainy.” Greg adds with a laugh, “We’re glad summer is finally here!"
The future promises exciting new developments for Pedro’s Santa Maria Style BBQ. “We’re building a commercial-grade kitchen to move all of our cooking onto our property and we’re going to upgrade our booth to a trailer in the next 12-18 months.” They’re also giving their young staff invaluable work experience to help them succeed after they graduate. “It’s great to work with the young people on our team that help us run the booth. We have six high schoolers who work for us and it’s a real privilege to get to work with such a talented group of hard-working young people,” Greg says.
Start a delicious family tradition of your own and stop by Pedro’s Santa Maria Style BBQ the next time you’re at the market.
For more information, visit www.pedrosmbbq.com.
Thank you Stephanie Ray with Precision Sharpening for volunteering to write up our vendor spotlights!