“Curly” is a man who comes from a humble background from the stuff of hard work and integrity. He often recalls the carefree and some not so carefree summer days in Europe, spending time with friends when dinner plans often meant staging an impromptu barbecue after a day of swimming and cavorting in the sun or a day of grueling hard work. It didn’t matter how little money everyone had back then. Everyone pooled their resources so that they could come together and eat. For Curly, food and cooking symbolize love, laughter, family and friends and most of all giving. No matter how little someone had they could contribute something to the dinner table even if it was a story or a joke. This is why for him food and cooking are a matter of the heart and he takes joy and pride in filling stomachs. When there is food there is laughter and the loneliness and hard times can disappear even if only for the night.
When he was forced to join the military, as most men who are of age in Europe at that time, he did all the cooking for his comrades. When he moved to Switzerland to build the gondolas in the freezing Alps, he cooked for all the other men he roomed with who also came from all over Europe to work.
Throwing BBQ parties and feeding his friends and family fills his heart with joy. On occasions when he notices someone desperate, he will offer some ribs or chicken. When asked why he responds with proud eyes “ it’s a terrible thing to go hungry and you never know what will happen in life or where you might end up”.
It's been awhile since the days of the “old country”, but his enthusiasm for slow cooking over a wood fire is as pronounced now as it was then. Years ago when Curly used to make and design jewelry (yes, a man of many talents) he was given the nickname Curly from Curly, Mo & Larry because he, well he doesn’t have much hair. When it came time to name his restaurant it seemed to be an obvious choice for him.
Today Curly and his son, Haig run the place by themselves. If you're driving down Fremont Street around lunchtime one or both of them can often be spotted smoking the ribs outside and if you find yourself downwind of what can easily be detected as the beckoning scent of seasoned oak wood smoldering over a lick of hot flames. It’s a smell that triggers automatic salivation in barbecue fans, and sometimes causes them to make illegal u-turns or execute other sudden traffic maneuvers to find the source.
On the former site of Seaside's Dairy Queen (and, more recently, Burger Joe's), Curly's features a number of rotisserie-cooked meats like barbecued chicken, pork ribs (available also by the whole or half rack), hot links, tri-tip or turkey. They're all offered either as a complete entree with a complement of traditional side dishes like coleslaw, potato salad, mashed potatoes, corn or chili beans, or as a sandwich. Other sandwich choices include barbecued pork, and smoked ham or turkey.
This barbecue-meister maintains that everything at Curly's is fresh and homemade, including the sauce. "Our barbecue sauce is done Southern-style, savory and spicy instead of sticky sweet," he points out. But since this is California where we're known for our predilection toward 'wraps,' burritos are also found on this barbecue menu, with a tortilla standing in for the usual bun.
Curly’s is kid friendly; you will find pictures of his grandchildren near his workspace. He also caters as well as rents out his space for a party if you so desire. There is also an enclosed patio space, which is awesome on those sunny days.