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At Nick Idoni's, the tender, juicy ribs rack up high marks



Where: 145th Street and Coastal Highway, (410) 250-1984

Hours: Dinner daily from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard and American Express

There may be more rib places in Ocean City per square mile than anywhere else in Maryland. These aren't the sort of places with a smoky grill out back and an old man with a secret sauce recipe. Here, it is big business.

A recommendation from a neighbor sent me to Nick Idoni's House of Ribs. He spoke glowingly of the restaurant and now I can see why. The ribs are well worth the trip.

Nick's is a large restaurant that reminds me of red-brick barn with an airy sun porch. Tables and chairs are packed into every inch of the large building.

In addition to the ribs, Nick's menu also offers other entrees, from chicken served in a variety of ways to shrimp, crab and flounder dishes.

We started our meal with "Nick's famous onion loaf" (half portion, $2.95). We had imagined a breadlike dish but were pleased with the large rectangular mold of crispy onion rings.

We also tried the soup of the day, a vegetable beef ($1.25 for a cup), which had a tomato base and was full of good-for-you ingredients like beef cubes, string beans, peas and carrots.

The dinner rolls served before our entrees turned out to be deliciously light and airy.

For our main course, we had ordered steak and ribs ($19.95), which featured a 9-ounce steak with a half-rack of ribs, and barbecued chicken ($9.95), which was charbroiled and basted with "Nick's own sauce."

The ribs were worth the buildup. They were tender and juicy and meaty without too much fat. We also liked the tangy sauce.

The barbecued chicken was moist and we liked the fact that the sauce was not too gooey. With our dinners, we had french fries that were cut into thick wedges, a baked potato and coleslaw that was fresh and dressed perfectly.

After such a large, spicy meal, we were in need of something sweet. Nick's only had one offering, Key lime pie ($3.50), but it was an agreeable finish.

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