As barbecue pits blazed over the weekend at Memorial Day parties, the coal-fired oven at Primitivo (1800 O.C. Haley Blvd., 504-881-1775; got its first trial by fire, serving test-run dinners of a menu built around the age-old traditions of grilling, smoking, curing and roasting.

Primitivo officially opened May 26 as the latest project from local restaurateur Adolfo Garcia and his partners. One of those partners, Jared Ralls, has been chef at La Boca since that Argentine-style steakhouse first opened in 2006.

Meat is also central to Primitivo’s menu, though the kitchen also works seafood and vegetables through its coal-fired grill, oven and smoker. Grilled duck wings, charcuterie plates, smoked oysters and smoked mullet dip are on the appetizer list. For entrees, there’s grilled or smoked steaks, roasted chicken, charred okra with rice, roasted pork cheeks and grilled drum collars (a cut from the neck and gill area of the fish). Most entree prices are under $20.

The restaurant is the newest addition to Central City’s historic but long-blighted commercial strip, which is now seeing a wave of redevelopment. Located near the nonprofit Café Reconcile and the Mexican restaurant and bar Casa Borrega, Primitivo’s corner address had previously been a day care center. It’s now been renovated with big picture windows, a dark interior sheathed in repurposed lumber and a long bar. Primitivo serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

Harvest of Chefs at market

As part of last year’s revamp of its Creole Tomato Festival, the French Market introduced the Summer Harvest Gala. This fundraiser and dinner was held in the open-air market hall itself, and was remarkable not only for the food, which was presented by high-profile New Orleans chefs as family-style platters, but for the way it recast the familiar market space as a festive venue.

Plans are now set for the second Summer Harvest Gala, scheduled for June 10, again at the main hall of the French Market and with an impressive roster of chefs preparing the meal together.

This time, the team includes three of the five finalists for the 2015 James Beard Award for Best Chef: South — Justin Devillier, of La Petite Grocery and Balise; Slade Rushing, of the new Brennan’s Restaurant; and Vishwesh Bhatt, of Snackbar, the Oxford, Mississippi restaurant from New Orleans native John Currence.

They’ll be joined at the gala by Kristin Essig, of Meauxbar, and Rebecca Wilcomb, chef de cuisine of Donald Link’s bistro Herbsaint.

A cocktail reception starts the evening, at 6:30 p.m., with drinks from Cane & Table, and the dinner includes wine and beer pairings from Abita Brewing. The swamp pop band the Creole String Beans perform during the event.

Tickets are $150, with proceeds supporting the development of farmers markets at the French Market. For tickets and details, see

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.