Chef Talk: Dave Newman


A native of Reston, Va., Dave Newman worked in San Francisco for Nancy Hawthorne, Michael Mina and others before coming to Baltimore, with his wife Cara in 2005, with the goal of opening a restaurant. His Blue Pit BBQ on Union Avenue in Woodberry opened in July, though the whiskey bar opened several months earlier.

You moved here from San Francisco almost a decade ago with the idea of opening a restaurant. What took you so long?
When I started at Brewer’s Art in 2008, I told them I wouldn’t stay long because I wanted to open my own place. But I ceased the search because I really liked working for them. It was so refreshing to find people who really give back to their employees.

I understand the restaurant is named after your dog?
Blue Pit encompasses a lot: Blue smoke is the ideal smoke for barbecue. Blue ribbon, the pit is where you cook it. I also have a blue pit bull, Sakai, like the city in Japan. I own a lot of Japanese knives, they’re made in Sakai, where the best steel in the world is made. A lot of knives are made of blue steel.

What kind of barbecue are you serving?
We’re pulling things we like from different regions. We’ll do burnt ends from Kansas City—that’s when you dice it up the point, or the fatty side, toss it in sauce and re-smoke it. Texas is known for brisket, North Carolina for pork. St. Louis and Memphis are ribs.

And the all-important sides?
We do classic sides with a twist: Pickleback slaw, made with brine from our housemade pickles, a loaded baked potato salad with bacon, green onions and sour cream dressing. Collard greens with smoked pork necks and sherry vinegar. I cook them down until they have texture of creamed spinach.

You’re also into whiskey?
Our bourbon program has grown tremendously; we opened with 45 varieties and now have over 100. We try to keep prices reasonable, so people can try things they might not have the wallet for otherwise. We have a 25-year bottle of rye (Jefferson’s Presidential Select 25 Year Rye) that you can try for $13 an ounce.

The décor is fun—rustic and DYI.
Jesse Harris (the designer) built a communal table with wood he salvaged. He stripped the original fixtures and gave them a patina. He hand-built bent copper tubing for light fixtures and used pipe elbows to mount the bar shelves. That’s what we had to work with. People have said, you need to hide that wiring. We say no, we like it. That’s who we are.

Never miss a story.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Email Address


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here