Chef Adolfo Garcia opens Primitivo in Central City


Primitivo serves duck wing confit with spicy wing sauce and sunflower seeds. - HELEN FREUND
  • Primitivo serves duck wing confit with spicy wing sauce and sunflower seeds.

At Adolfo Garcia's new Central City restaurant Primitivo (1800 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 504-881-1775), an impressive three-part oven and grill allows him to over hot coals, roast or grill items and cold or hot smoke others.

“What we want to serve is real, simple food,” Garcia says. “We’ll keep it real and keep it primitive, hence the name. 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 and High Hat Cafe on Freret Street and the Argentine steakhouse La Boca. He said his team was “looking for something new, something different,” when the Central City spot popped up. 

Garcia says his interest was piqued in the Oretha Castle Haley property after visiting some of the other restaurants and businesses that had opened there.

“Sure, you can go to Magazine Street and pay top dollar at an over-crowded 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, which opened Tuesday night, Garcia is joined by La Boca alum Jared Ralls, Ron Copeland and Nick Martin, another longtime chef at Garcia’s restaurants.

The space has an Old World, industrial chic aesthetic – light bulbs are encased in copper wire, there are distressed wood and brick walls, high ceilings and a large, open kitchen that contains the restaurant’s main attraction: a three-part brick-and-steel oven which 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 reflect the produce and meat the chefs have available to them on any given day and is subject to change. There will be days when whole hogs are the focus and others when roasted chickens and steaks will play center stage, Garcia says.

Vegetables won’t play second fiddle: grilled broccoli, coal-roasted potato salad and tzatziki made out of grilled produce are some of what the chefs have planned for the menu.

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’ include braised pork cheeks, smoked pork butt and dumplings in a carbonara sauce and five-hour smoked beef coulotte.


Larger plates, meant to share, include a bone-in, coal-grilled prime 24-ounce ribeye with bone marrow butter and smoked potato salad, whole roasted chicken served with cornbread salad, tomatoes and greens.

Primitivo is currently serving dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Plans to add lunch are in the works, Garcia says. 

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