Warbucks (3218 Magazine St.), a new restaurant from former August chef Todd Pulsinelli, officially opens Saturday, following a soft opening.
The restaurant takes over the space formerly occupied by coal-fired pizza joint Amici.
The restaurant is casual and family friendly, Pulsinelli says, and nothing on the food menu costs more than $18. But the food also reflects his background in fine dining. There is a double-patty burger dressed with American cheese on a poppy-seed bun and a gussied-up version with pickled red onions and foie gras compound butter.
“It’s fun things that are familiar, and we’re just flipping things around a bit,” Pulsinelli says. Potato tots are stuffed with braised oxtail and served with blackberry ketchup. The restaurant makes its own hot dogs and serves them with crab-fat coleslaw. Corndog “elotes” are topped with hominy for crunch and lime creme. Red beans are served with smoked octopus.
Diners may recognize a few of the dishes from Pulsinelli’s pop-up, which he ran periodically at Turkey & The Wolf. The menu features burrata and short rib hand pies, shrimp rings with finger lime cocktail sauce, Zapp's-crusted drum fish with a green gribiche, and macaroni and cheese with pulled pork, cheddar and bechamel finished with a spicy mayonnaise.
The bar serves a couple of frozen drinks, large-format to-go cocktails, a few local beers and Miller High Life ponies.
The restaurant is loosely inspired by ’90s rap and skateboarding culture, and the name is a reference to the chef’s hip-hop alter-ego. Pulsinelli has recorded several hip-hop albums with tongue-in-cheek lyrics that reference food and kitchen culture.
The overarching theme won’t hit guests over the head, Puslinelli says.
“It’s just small nuances of the place,” Puslinelli says. “We incorporated skateboarding without it being so obvious and corny.”
Pulsinelli ran the kitchen at John Besh’s flagship restaurant August in the Central Business District until a few months ago, when he left to open his eatery, of which the Besh’s restaurant group — renamed BRG Hospitality — is a partner. It’s the first restaurant the group has opened in New Orleans since Besh stepped down amid allegations of widespread sexual misconduct, and was replaced by new CEO Shannon White.
Pulsinelli said his ownership in the company can increase over time, and he and his wife will eventually have the option to own the restaurant themselves.
The restaurant will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.