There might be jazz or rock or roots music in the air any given night at Chickie Wah Wah, but for the past few years there’s always been a steady aroma of barbecue too. Blue Oak BBQ runs the kitchen at this Mid-City music club, serving the bar crowd and its own clientele draw by the smoky meats and stacked sandwiches.
Soon, Blue Oak BBQ will have its own address about a mile away in the former Fellini’s Café, at 900 N. Carrollton Ave.
Blue Oak BBQ pitmasters Ronnie Evans and Philip Moseley said they hope to open in time for Jazz Fest in late April. They’ll remain open at Chickie Wah Wah for the next few weeks while renovations are completed at their new home.
“We’re ready to make the next step, and we’re really excited to be able to stay in Mid-City,” said Evans. “We think there’s a great untapped market here, but we never thought we’d be able to get something with a location like this.”
Fellini’s closed in February after a 15-year run serving pizza and other Mediterranean dishes. Many of those dishes are now being gradually added to the menu at Nonna Mia, the nearby Italian restaurant that’s run by Fellini’s former proprietors.
Evans and Moseley are New Orleans natives and longtime friends who started Blue Oak BBQ in 2012 across town at the Uptown bar Grits. The going was not easy in the beginning, with slow days and late night shifts to cater to the afterhours crowd there.
“But it turned out to be a good start for us, we learned a lot and were able to spend time developing recipes,” said Evans.
By 2013, they had moved to Chickie Wah Wah and here began building up their own following. Their menu expanded to a full barbecue restaurant’s repertoire. Their approach at the smoker is a mix of regional styles, with brisket based on central Texas tradition, ribs prepared St. Louis style and pulled pork drawing more from Alabama barbecue. The smoked chicken wings have become a particular calling card.
Evans said the menu will grow at Blue Oak BBQ’s own location, with more sides and some Louisiana smokehouse standards like cracklin’ and boudin in the works. Look for a “cool ranch cracklin’” seasoned up like the popular dressing and beef ribs as a regular blackboard item.
The new restaurant will have a pair of dining rooms and a patio along North Carrollton Avenue. They’re now building out a bar and are applying for a full liquor license. The restaurant will likely begin serving lunch and the add dinner hours as Blue Oak BBQ staffs up.
Evans said he and Moseley are excited by the proximity to City Park, to customers in Lakeview, Gentilly and Old Metairie neighborhoods and by the nearby Lafitte Greenway, with its growing bicycle traffic.
“It’s cool that Toups’ Meatery is right across the street too,” Evans said of chef Isaac Toups’ Cajun restaurant. “Maybe it will inspire some meat crawls.”
Blue Oak BBQ
2828 Canal St., at Chickie Wah Wah, 504-822-2583 (through early April)
900 N. Carrollton Ave., (anticipated opening late April)
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.