Blue Oak BBQ opened last weekend as the newest addition to the burgeoning Mid-City restaurant scene, but many of the first people through the doors here were already very familiar with its food.
For the last three years, pit masters Ronnie Evans and Philip Moseley maintained a sort of pop-up-as-permanent residency at Chickie Wah Wah, the Canal Street music club. They earned a loyal following on the strength of their full-tilt, slow-and-low barbecue, and they also progressively built a roster of distinctive sandwiches, sides and specialties on par with any stand-alone barbecue restaurant in town.
It seemed only a matter of time before they would outgrow the eatery-within-a-bar arrangement at Chickie Wah Wah, and earlier this year when the longtime home of Fellini’s Café hit the market the Blue Oak boys were quick to snap it up.
They announced their restaurant plans in March, and they vowed to open in time for Jazz Fest, a target they hit on the nose last Friday (April 22).
Given the short turn-around the change at the old Fellini’s is remarkable.
The new Blue Oak BBQ uses a counter-service format. From the line, you look into an open kitchen where cooks slice ribs and brisket, pile chopped beef into Texas toast sandwiches, add panko crumbs to the roasted garlic mac and cheese and tend a smoker built into the tiled walls.
The dining room is a progression of booths, tables and long, high benches done in weathered wood, and there’s a patio up front screened by hedges and strung with lights. The full bar has a good selection of drafts (including one from Mid-City’s own Second Line Brewing).
As before, Blue Oak’s approach at the smoker starts with a blend of pecan and oak. And like others in the growing ranks of New Orleans barbecue spots, its menu represents a mix of regional styles. The brisket is based on central Texas tradition, for instance, while ribs are prepared St. Louis style and pulled pork draws more from Alabama barbecue. The smoked chicken wings and house-made sauces have become calling cards.
Fellini’s, meanwhile, had been in business here at the corner or North Carrollton Avenue and Dumaine Street for 15 years before shuttering in February. Now, many of its signature Mediterranean dishes (and some of its former staff) have moved over to Nonna Mia, the nearby Italian restaurant also owned by Fellini’s former proprietors.
900 N. Carrollton Ave., 504-621-9837
Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sun.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.