Chef Adolfo Garcia opened his Central City restaurant Primitivo (1800 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 504-881-1775; www.primitivonola.com) May 26. His menu is built around use of a three-part oven and grill that allows his team to cook in a variety of methods, including roasting, grilling and smoking.
"What we want to serve is real, simple food," Garcia says. "When we were thinking about what we wanted to do, we thought of how we spend our weekends cooking on the open fire — that's what we all love to do."
Garcia also is a partner in Ancora (4508 Freret St., 504-324-1636; www.ancorapizza.com), High Hat Cafe (4500 Freret St., 504-754-1336; www.highhatcafe.com) and the Argentine steakhouse La Boca (870 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-525-8205; www.labocasteaks.com). He said his team was looking for something different when it spotted the Central City location.
"Sure, you can go to Magazine Street and pay top dollar at an overcrowded restaurant ... but I think there are some areas in New Orleans that are in need of some more options," he says. "We feel we can be of service to the community and also benefit as business owners at the same time."
At Primitivo, Garcia is joined by La Boca alum Jared Ralls, as well as Ron Copeland and Nick Martin, another longtime chef at Garcia's restaurants.
The space has an Old World, industrial chic aesthetic — lightbulbs are encased in copper wire and there are high ceilings and distressed wood and brick walls. The large, open kitchen contains the restaurant's main attraction: a three-part brick-and-steel oven that includes an open grill, ovens that heat at different temperatures and a six-burner stove. Food is cooked over hot coals and wood on the open grill, and oven compartments include separate chambers for roasting and smoking.
The menu will change depending on available meat and produce. There will be days when whole hogs are the focus and others when roasted chickens and steaks will be center stage, Garcia says.
Starters and small plates include field pea hummus with smoked mackerel, crudites and croutons and duck wing confit with spicy wing sauce and sunflower seeds. A section of dishes titled "from the hearth" includes braised pork cheeks, smoked pork butt and dumplings in carbonara sauce and five-hour smoked beef coulotte. Larger plates meant to share include a bone-in, coal-grilled 24-ounce rib-eye with bone marrow butter and smoked potato salad, and whole roasted chicken served with cornbread salad, tomatoes and greens.
Primitivo serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Plans to add lunch are in the works, Garcia says.