Food & Drink

Grilling tips from The Ribline’s barbecue expert

How to grill ribs: Tips from The Rib Line’s kitchen

Want to boost your barbecue to the next level? Brian Appiano, owner of The Rib Line restaurants in San Luis Obispo and Grover Beach, shares his secrets for grilling great ribs — what kind of wood to use, how to tell when the meat is done, when to
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Want to boost your barbecue to the next level? Brian Appiano, owner of The Rib Line restaurants in San Luis Obispo and Grover Beach, shares his secrets for grilling great ribs — what kind of wood to use, how to tell when the meat is done, when to

Need some expertise for a backyard party? Here are some hot grilling tips from Brian Appiano of The Ribline. Now with three locations (two in San Luis Obispo and one in Grover Beach), the local restaurant chain is well known for its Santa Maria-style barbecue.

Baby back pork ribs are a mouth-watering snap when you follow Appiano’s lead. He applies a generous amount of dry rub on both sides just before putting them on direct heat on the grill, bone side down so that the ribs are curving upward.

“After that, it’s knowing when to flip them,” he said. “You want to do that when the (ribs’) knuckles bleed.”

That may sound a bit barbaric, but turning your ribs at the right point is a sure-fire guide to perfect timing.

“I just flip them once, and let them go about another 15 to 20 minutes,” Appiano explained. Then, it’s key to get the ribs off the grill, wrap them in foil and let them rest for 35 to 40 minutes.

To finish the ribs, remove them from the foil and pop them back on the grill for just a few minutes each side to get that crispy exterior. Be sure to keep a close eye, especially if you’re putting on barbecue sauce. Most sauces have some sort of sugar in them that will easily burn if you don’t pay attention.

Speaking of burning, Appiano has a great tip to help you avoid torching your grilled chicken. Just par-bake the birds first in an oven at 370 degree Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes, then grill them on direct heat for 10-15 minutes to finish cooking.

“With that method, you can even marinate them in teriyaki sauce beforehand,” he said. “They won’t burn and (more importantly with poultry), they’ll be cooked all the way through.”

Tri-tip is a favorite cut of beef on the Central Coast, but Appiano noted that it can be easily ruined by a basic carving mistake — cutting with the grain instead of against it.

“Cutting with the grain (parallel to the muscle fibers) makes the meat really tough,” he explained. “Cutting against it (perpendicular to the fibers) gives you nice and tender tri-tip.”

In addition to meat, Appiano suggests using the grill for appetizing side dishes.

“It doesn’t get much better than grilled corn on the cob,” he said. “Just husk it, put it right on the grill and get some nice grill marks. Right before serving, brush it with some melted butter.”

He uses leftovers to make a simple corn, avocado and jalapeño salsa or salad. Cut the corn kernels off the ears and mix to taste with diced avocado, minced jalapeño, lime juice, salt and pepper.

A similar grilling technique also works for zucchini and many other summer squashes. Cut the squash lengthwise into strips about ¼ to ½-inch wide. Lightly season the veggies with plain olive oil, salt and pepper, then place on the grill to get some nice marks.

When you take the squash off the grill, drizzle it with some flavored finishing olive oil.

“Lately, I’m really having fun using flavored oils from We Olive [store in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo], like garlic and Meyer lemon,” Appiano said. “You can play around with the different oils and really develop some nice levels of flavor.”

And don’t forget about using the grill for dessert. Toss some freshly sliced local strawberries or even peaches with just a touch of sugar or honey and place the fruits in a grill basket over medium-low heat until they just start to soften. Take care not to burn them, which can happen fast given the sugar content.

The grilled fruit is perfect for spooning over shortcake or ice cream. And, if you have any left over, give it a coarse chop or quick pulse in a food processor and enjoy it on toast or a croissant the next morning.

Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at

The Ribline

Known for Santa Maria-style barbecue of red oak grilled meats and hearty sides, The Ribline now boasts three locations in San Luis Obispo County. In 2009, Brian Appiano and his wife Krystal Appiano assumed full ownership of the location on Los Osos Valley Road in San Luis Obispo. Along with Brian’s dad, Rick Appiano, and his wife, Karol, they opened the second Ribline in Grover Beach in 2011, and Brian and Krystal Appiano fired up their latest San Luis Obispo location on Broad Street in October 2015.

12308 Los Osos Valley Road, San Luis Obispo

Open daily: 8 a.m. to close

2256 Broad Street, Suite 110, San Luis Obispo

Open daily: 11 a.m. to close

228 West Grand Ave, Grover Beach

Open daily: 11:30 a.m. to close

543-RIBS (7427)