A friend recommended Peasant, an Italian rest. in the east village. Would love some opinions. Many thanks.
Friends say the food is excellent. The atmosphere, brick walls and a large, chatty room filled with mainly good-looking young hipsters, is pretty downtown standard. Lighting's perfect. However, there's an incredibly rude bartender (who you won't have to deal with) who has the attitude of a pissed-off roller coaster that doesn't like to be reminded that it's in the entertainment service industry. She doesn't know how to make proper drinks, and doesn't appreciate it if you ask her to remake them properly. So go for the food, which supposedly is very good, but don't go for a lousy $9 drink unless you want to spoil your evening, or unless you're ordering an idiot-proof beer or scotch (straight up).
re: Diane Mehta
Had dinner there a few weeks ago - everything was above average.
We had bocconcini di bufalo with roasted peppers and cherry tomoatoes, a salad of artichokes with bresaola and baby arugula, roasted razor clams (amazing), mozzerella wrapped in prosciutto and baked, porcini risotto, strozzopretti with wild boar, and rabbit stew. The food is rustic Italian and met all of our expectations.
The desserts could have been better - but as you can imagine - we weren't very hungry when we got to the dessert.
re: Diane Mehta
The female bartender is news to me but the guy that worked the bar on my x2 visits was a delight. Made a good martini as well. We actually closed the place down one night.
Overall, the atmosphere is cozy, but I was underwhelmed with the food on my last visit. The chef tried a bit to hard and the Risotto side was like a brick in my stomach. Actually- the meal was not especially memorable and I had a whole fish special that was avg.
I would say try it, but dont go with the highest of hopes.
Motto Mario had a drink there and the chef kissed his butt a bit. that was fun to see. Maybe he could have given him some pointers.
This reminds me...have any of you heard about "Grandma", the new project by Maurice Auricchio? It's going to be a very chic room (multimillions are allegedly going into the project) on East 63rd street, designed by Maximilian Chedout (the guy who did P. Street), and the concept will be nouvelle haimish (mock brisket made from skate, etc etc), with prices that won't exactly threaten Ducasse, but may come close. The insider joke going around is that few actual grandmas (likely living on fixed income social security) will ever be able to afford to eat here!
More news as it comes in.
re: Jim Leff
"The insider joke going around is that few actual grandmas (likely living on fixed income social security) will ever be able to afford to eat here!"
The idea of eating grandma's creplach in a multi-million $ 'chic' room is ripe for a Monty Python sketch. I can just seem a bubbeh, shuffling out of the uber-designed silvery kitchen a housedress, ladling stuff onto guests' plates my plate and yelling, "what? you don't like it? you want what, that McDonalds? Feh!" Sounds like NY is approaching the abandon of Rome before the Fall.
I ate there over the summer and had a very good meal. The room is nice with exposed brick and an open kitchen.
The food was great. I tried three starters. One was an earthenware dish that held razor clams, oysters and mussles. It had been baked in an oven with olive oil, garlic and herbs. It had a great flavor and the shellfish were perfectly good. the only problem was that the razor clams were a bit gritty. One of the best parts of the dish was sopping up the shellfish broth at the bottom of the dish with bread. Another starter I had was cuttlefish in a fresh tasting tomato sauce, also prepared in an earthenware dish. This was excellent, the cuttlefish were perfectly cooked. The third appetizer I tried was fresh mozzzarella with roasted red peppers. A very simple dish, but the mozzarella was the softest I have had other then when I buy it fresh at Joe's Dairy.
My main course was delicious, osso bucco, surrounded by faro (a tuscan grain similar to barley) and a fantastic rich sauce. There is a lot of osso bucco in this town, this is one of the better ones.
For dessert the chocolate-hazelnut cake is my recomendation. Extremely rich and dense it tates like a flourless cake. The menu said it was served with hazelnut gelato, but they were out the night I was there and they substituted pistachio, just as good (they use Ciao Bella's gelato).
One of the things that I like about Peasant is that similar to Lupa, they carry a lot of wines from southern Italy. I tried two bottles that I truly enjoyed. One was a red from Sicily, a 1997 Val Cerasa, Etna Rosso. Being that it was the summer I was looking for a red that was not too heavy and this was perfect. I also had a good white, a 1997 Livio Felluga "Map Lable" Pinot Grigio.
As I said I have not eaten at Peasant since this summer, but I am having dinner their this coming Friday. I will report back.