The New York Times loves the baby backs and the staff at Justin's joint

By Stephen M. Silverman
September 19, 2007 08:00 AM
Jason Kempin/FilmMagic

A review in The New York Times can make or break a restaurant in Manhattan, and Justin Timberlake‘s uptown eatery, Southern Hospitality, has just been put to the test by one of the paper’s food critics.

The verdict? Raves for the ribs.

“They are juicy but not fatty,” reviewer Peter Meehan writes of the $22.95 (for a full slab) baby backs before adding his compliments over their “finger-licking messiness.”

“The meat is tug-off-the-bone tender,” muses an impressed Meehan, who also extols the pleasures of their “crisp exterior.”

When the eatery opened in July – with Jay-Z, Lance Bass, Seth Green, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and the Rev. Al Sharpton among the first-nighters – Timberlake, 26, told PEOPLE that his favorite items on the menu, which was derived from his Memphis background, were “fried green tomatoes and the pulled pork.”

The Times wasn’t so keen on the pork, however, with Meehan finding it “cottony and dry, so far gone … that the meat repelled the sauce.” On the other hand, he likes the fried chicken, which he suggests would make a good morning-after leftover.

Overall, the critic found Southern Hospitality (1460 2nd Ave., at 76th St.) exceedingly hospitable – a place where the staff, “from the hostess to the waitresses, are friendly and accommodating.”

Celebrities were also spotted in the place – shock jock Wendy Williams was that night’s attraction – though patrons expecting to see the SexyBack owner himself might be disappointed “more often than not,” says the otherwise mouthwatering review.

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