Primitivo, New Orleans
Quality is paramount. Garcia credits his commitment to serving the best, freshest seafood for achieving RioMar’s high reputation in the competitive New Orleans dining scene since the restaurant first opened in 2000 with business partner Nick Bazan. Leading up to RioMar, Garcia had been the mastermind behind the well-loved Criollo and was named Best New Chef by New Orleans Magazine. He’d led the kitchen of Lucky Cheng’s, the infamous French Quarter locale where fusion Chinese was dished out by drag queens.
Garcia and Bazan followed RioMar’s success in 2006 by opening La Boca, an Argentine Steakhouse (an homage to Bazan’s ancestry and some of Garcia’s favorite flavors). It was again an immediate hit with critics and guests. With RioMar and La Boca firmly established, Garcia was ready pursue his next dream. He’d long-wanted to offer traditional central and southern Italian cuisine unaltered by other cultures. Along with his young Chef-Partner Joshua Smith, Garcia opened a Mano in October of 2009, which means by hand. House cured salumi, hand-crafted pastas, and long simmered dishes highlight the menu in a warm and welcoming trattoria. With a Mano, Garcia has introduced another Latin cuisine and its dining customs to the city.
In late May 2010, Garcia opens Gusto Cafe & Bar for newly renovated The Theatres at Canal Place which features in-seat dining service and a Cafe and Bar for Canal Place visitors.Gusto sets a new standard for cinema fare with Mediterranean small plates and iconic hometown treats from hearty to light that are perfect for grazing or sharing. Offerings range from house-cured artisanal Salumi, from a Mano, Parmesan and Black Pepper Popcorn, Pecan Pralines, and Hubig’s Pies! Select wines, seasonal cocktails & Italian soda highlight the drink menu.
Accolades include a Mano being named 2010 James Beard Best New Restaurant Semifinalist and Garcia a Best Chef for the South Semifinalist; and Chef of the Year by New Orleans Magazine for RioMar and La Boca. The New Orleans Times-Picayune has included RioMar in its Top Ten Best Restaurants in the city. Hispanic Magazine named Garcia to its Top 8 Latin Chefs in the Country. When the James Beard House highlighted Top Latin American Chefs, Garcia was invited to showcase his cuisine.