War Wagon BBQ is Petaluma’s newest food truck

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Due to the overwhelming support of its Father’s Day barbecue fundraiser, War Wagon BBQ donated $600 to the Petaluma Active 20-30 Club’s Children’s Charity Mission this past weekend.

War Wagon BBQ first came to Petaluma’s attention when Tim McDowell posted a Mother’s Day announcement for his friend Rick Foote, the owner of War Wagon BBQ. With a phone number out of Southern California, an address that matched Maselli & Son’s and a post made for a “friend,” people were at first a bit suspicious of this new business.

But fear not, War Wagon BBQ is both licensed and insured. As far as the address, Rick’s daughter Vanessa Maselli said that her father-in-law, Jim Maselli, was graciously allowing War Wagon BBQ to set up in the north parking lot at Maselli & Sons on occasion.

When it comes to the name, there’s a story to tell. As the barbecue trailer was under construction here in Petaluma by Oliver Shirley, it started to look a lot like the war wagon depicted in the 1967 John Wayne movie of the same name. It really is a thing of beauty, with both wood and propane storage up front, smokers down one side and grills down the other, with a butcher block and prep area at the rear.

The recent Father’s Day fundraiser was extra special because it came out of a tragedy that befell the War Wagon family. They were set to compete in the Petaluma Active 20-30 Club’s Ribs for Kids fundraiser on June 8 but received last minute news of a death in the family. They understandably had to forgo the competition.

But Foote and his War Wagon BBQ team did not want to leave the nonprofit hanging. So they decided to spend Father’s Day serving others. They announced the barbecue as a special event at Maselli & Sons, with all profits from Sunday’s sales donated to underprivileged local youth via the 20-30 Club.

I was eager to try War Wagon at last week’s Ribs for Kids, so I was brimming with anticipation as I drove over to Maselli & Sons on Sunday to pick up two barbecue plates, one for me and one for my mom. Since my father’s passing, I try to spend Father’s Day with my mom. She serves double duty now that dad is gone, so the extra day of “celebration” is the least we can do to thank her.

So how was the food from War Wagon? Let me just say that as certified barbecue judge and regular judge at the Ribs for Kids cook-off, these ribs easily could have taken home top honors. They were perfectly tender, which means not completely falling off the bone, but nearly. And the dry rub was delectable with just the right amount of spice. The plate came with some barbecue chicken, too, which was moist and smoky, as well as sides of mac ‘n’ cheese and cowboy beans infused with a few peppers and a lot of bacon. I later saw they also offer tri-tip, which I am eager to sample.

I cannot wait to try them again, which as it stands, will likely be at the July Fourth celebration at the Petaluma Fairgrounds.

War Wagon BBQ will be popping up more frequently around Petaluma, so follow them on social media to keep up with its schedule. The wagon is also available for catering by contacting or call 951-271-2862.

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