Smoking bad for you? Houston BBQ joint begs to differ

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HOUSTON, Tx. -- No matter how much technology the world throws at us, some things just never change. Like barbecue. Despite all the fancy cookers and smokers and injectors and what not, the best pitmasters in the business will tell you it really only comes down to three things.

"It's wood, protein and seasoning," restaurant managerTim Taylor says.

If you don't believe that, then you haven't been to Pizzitola's.

"My dad could not pass a barbecue restaurant back when I was young," Jerry Pizzitola explains, "so no matter where we were going, fishng, hunting or whatever, if he saw a barbecue place he'd pull over."

His favorite, though, was a little place on Shepherd known simply as Shepherd Drive Barbecue. Back then it was little more than a shack, two brick smokers, and a lot out back where original owner, John Davis chopped his own fire wood.

That was in 1934, and it was where Jerry Pizzitola and his father came for barbecue. Until one day in 1981 when everything changed.

"I came in one day and something wasn't right and I said, 'what happened?' John died."

So rather than see the place fall apart, Jerry decided to take over, being careful to change as little as possible. Today the restaurant is 80-years-old and Chew on This: everything coming out of the kitchen is still cooked on the same brick smokers John Davis built 75 years ago.

"It's hard wood, solid fire, iron grates, I mean real old fashioned," pitman Josh Scott explains.

In fact, the only thing that really changed when Jerry took over was the name.

"I changed the name to Pizzitola's," he laughs. "I probably shouldn't have, I should have kept it after 45 years as Shepherd Drive."

But as long as the folks keep coming in and the barbecue keeps coming out, a name is just a name.