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Smoking Hot

Grilling Tips, Summer Recipes & Cocktails from chef Adolfo Garcia

Photographed by Sara Essex Bradley

This is the time of year when spring crawfish boils come to an end, and the summer grilling season starts in earnest. Chef Adolfo Garcia (of La Boca, Gusto and the newly opened Primitivo) and his wife, Margarita, invited a few friends over for a backyard tasting party, where he grilled some items that are on the menu at Primitivo. His key to good grilling is a hot wood-burning fire and a very slow grilling time.

As guests arrived, signature cocktails were served, and a charcuterie-style assortment of olives, cheeses and cured meats were set out to whet appetites. A grilled appetizer of peppers and sausages made the wait for the slow grilling of the main course effortless. The tango music playing in the background, the laughter and conversation and the smell of the wood smoke all enhanced a perfect summer afternoon.


Margarita’s Spoon Bread

2 quarts if roasted corn, off the cob
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup corn meal
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup cream
1 cup water
Blend water, corn and cream in a food processor. Blend in all other ingredients, adding the eggs last. Pour into an oiled casserole dish or warm cast iron pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25 minutes. Rotate and continue baking for another 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before you serve.




1 ounce bourbon
.75 ounce Campari
.75 ounce sweet vermouth
Shake all ingredients with ice. Serve up or on the rocks. Garnish with an orange peel. 

< Margarita Garcia enjoys the Boulevardier cocktail at Primitivo; another signature cocktail to try is the Marie Louise Collins, named for a beloved aunt who left an inheritance to partner Ron Copeland and his wife Erin, who invested it in the restaurant.






Clockwise from top left: Prime NY strip, tea-brined chicken, coullotte, Louisiana Wagyu flank, and short ribs, All are on the menu at Primitivo.

An assortment of olives, cheeses and cured meats were served as guests arrived. Cutting board can be purchased at Julie Neill.

Prosciutto, cheese, salami and Mediterranean-style olives

Sweet peppers done in a grilling pan to keep them from falling in the fire

Chef Adolfo Garcia

"Slow cooking on the grill is key" -Chef Nick Martin

Coulotte (Cap Steak)
Season one whole untrimmed coulotte liberally with salt and pepper. Grill on medium-low heat, fat side down. Move the steak as necessary to avoid any flare-ups or charring. After about 30 minutes on the fat side flip and continue cooking, turning every 5 minutes or so, until it reaches an internal temperature of 125 degrees. Allow the steak to rest for 20 minutes then flash on the grill on both sides. Slice and serve.










A Panzanella-style salad was served as a side dish.
Blood sausage, green onion sausage, and mini sweet peppers hot off the grill and served on French bread (choripan)

Marie Louise Collins

1.5 ounce Canadian club
1 ounce lemon lime oleo saccharin
Top with ice and soda
Garnish with a lemon or lime wheel
To make the oleo saccharin,combine the peels of 2 limes and 2 lemons with one cup of sugar. Muddle vigorously and allow to steep for two hours. Strain of the finished liquid.



Primitivo, 1800 O.C. Haley Blvd. centers around a fire pit and meat, with a custom-built oven at the center of an open kitchen. The oven will be used for grilling and also has compartments for roasting and even cold-smoking. Rather than draw on a specific cuisine, the menu at Primitivo is built around what the oven’s open fire can produce. Chef Adolfo Garcia says his goal with this restaurant was to “to get back to the basics” and turn out food that chefs want to eat. The Primitivo team includes chef Nick Martin in the kitchen and Jared Ralls and Ron Copeland on board as partners in the venture.

Chef Nick Martin says, “We are trying to be a very beer-centric, rustic, hearth-driven restaurant. It’s a fun, casual environment with serious but approachable real food – and a great place to get a few drinks. ‘Hearth’ and ‘tap’ seem to be our recurring phrases. Also unhinged – we are a bit crazy and fun. We want people to have a good time. No dress code, ever!”



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