by Ian McNulty
On deck at Chickie Wah Wah tonight is Subdudes founder and guitarist Tommy Malone, accompanied by piano player Bill Malchow, plus some vegetarian tempeh dishes, meatball calzones and one of the bigger pizzas you’re likely to find around town.
Chickie Wah Wah, the refreshingly grown-up Mid-City music venue, has for the past few months now also been the latest roost for Garage Pizza, an eatery that specializes as much in light, flavorful meatless dishes as it does in the standard pizza parlor array of pies, calzones and pastas.
I wrote about Garage Pizza and its chef Karen Bolds back in 2009, after I happily stumbled upon a place that would deliver both a pepperoni pizza and a bowl of soba noodles in peanut sauce with grilled vegetables. That was when Garage Pizza was located near the old Charity Hospital building, at an address now home to Angeletto’s Pizzeria.
But last fall, Bolds took over the small tavern kitchen inside Chickie Wah Wah, where the taco truck Taceaux Loceaux had previously set up a stationary spot.
Chickie Wah Wah is more a music destination than a neighborhood bar, and the music schedule (warning: this site launches with music playing; caveat: it’s great music) helps set the pace of Garage Pizza’s own business. During shows, lots of the people around the room are splitting pizzas or digging into baked polenta or fettuccine Alfredo at the bar. But Garage Pizza keeps regular hours independent of the music calendar, serving on Mondays from 5-10 p.m. and Tuesdays through Thursdays from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
The venue is non-smoking and there are tables inside and outside in a small, enclosed patio. There’s a take-out window if you just want to order food without paying cover for a show, and the kitchen delivers.
Bolds is a New Orleans native who first developed her ken for meatless fare while working at Old Dog New Trick, the long-gone local vegetarian restaurant. That interest in vegetarian cooking certainly doesn’t exclude meat from her current menu, however, and Garage Pizza makes a particular fine meatball. I think it’s especially good in the kitchen’s calzones.
The specialty pizzas are named following an automotive theme, which explains why in addition to the small and large sizes there is a super-sized 20-inch pie dubbed the Hummer. If you like your slices huge, floppy and foldable, this is the one to try. You can get a Hummer H3, too, which has the topping combinations of any three specialty pizzas each parceled out on one-third of its expanse of cheese.
Here’s the menu, though note that the hours listed here aren’t current and the breakfast section listed online is something Bolds plans to introduce later, along with Sunday morning service.
2828 Canal St., 214-5177