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Feb 15, 2008 06:18 PM

My night at Peasant (and welcome to it)

This was our Valentine's Day one-day-late dinner. The bread was awesome, crusty and sour and full of air pockets (my fave kind of bread) and served with a wooden bowl of very fresh ricotta - free cheese! Yay!

We had the broiled oysters topped with bread crumbs in some sort of tomato/caper/garlic reduction, which was served crazy hot. Since the oysters were different sizes, some were perfectly cooked and others overdone. And I thought the portion was a little skimpy at 6/$14. The sauce was delicious, though, and very well balanced.

Also had the burrata with roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine. The tomatoes were worlds better than one would expect this time of year, candy-sweet. The burrata was tasty but too wet. Unless it's supposed to be that wet. Then it was exactly right.

For entrees, we had the tagliolini with bread crumbs and bottarga. The bottarga was not much in evidence (plenty of bread crumbs, though), and the pasta was too buttery. Which did not stop me from eating it all really fast. And the razza (skate! I've learned a new Italian word), which was ideal. I'd only had skate prepared in the French style, sauteed with brown butter and capers. This was grilled, bringing a welcome meatiness and heft to the fish.

Our side of broccoli rabe with garlic was just as advertised, and nothing special.

The service was faultless. But I question Peasant's decision to print the menu almost entirely in Italian, and then have the wait staff translate it into English for every.single.table. This is...stupid. Also affected. Also annoying, when you keep hearing the recitation of the whole shebang echoing throughout the dining room all during your meal.

But! Nice place, nice dinner. And it smells like a fireplace in there, which makes you hungry.

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  1. Thanks for the review. It was a fun read. I don't think $14 is bad for 6 oysters. These days, most restaurants only give you 3 or 4. As long as they were good it is worth it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rrems

      See if you can make heads or tails of this: if the oysters had been raw, I wouldn't have blinked at the price. But somehow, they lost value under the broiler. How is this possible? I can't say.

    2. Fresh Burrata should be wet and slimy, such that when you cut into a full piece, the inside ooozes out.

      3 Replies
      1. re: RCC

        Well, then. I guess I just don't like burrata all that much.

        1. re: RCC

          Fresh burrata should be moist; "slimy" burrata means it's old and they didn't even have the courtesy to try to wipe it off to hide the fact. ;)

          1. re: MikeG

            I don't think so. Based on our experiences in delis, food markets and restaurants in Puglia about a year-and-a-half ago, plus the countless times that we've bought and ordered these whenever we see availability, the fresh and better ones are those with the mozarella-like covering and the semi-solid portion oozes out when you cut into a full piece of burrata.

            We've kept leftover burrata in our refrigerator and, over time, they lose their internal wetness and solidifies completely, and even then they retain some moistness. This is probably what you refer to with your burrata being just moist.

            That's why they wrap fresh ones with palm leaves (I think that's what those are) which, based on the color of the leaves, will indicate the level of freshness of the cheese.

        2. We've been wanting to try this place as the guys at DiPalo always rave about it ... I agree that that translating into English etc. thing sounds like a pain. Interesting about the bottarga dish being buttery - since I associate bottarga with Southern Italy, it's interesting that they would use butter in the dish - not sure I'd like that. Was there anything else in the sauce other than bread crumbs and bottarga (and, well, the butter) - I'm more curious from the home cooking perspective ...?

          2 Replies
          1. re: MMRuth

            Just parsley & garlic, as far as I can tell. You could replicate it easily. In fact, this might be it (except it uses olive oil):


            1. re: small h

              I'm a bit obsessed with bottarga - thank you - I'll look at the link. I make several versions at home - but the break crumbs, and the fresh pasta, are new ideas to me.

          2. Honestly I felt the same way about the menu in Italian. Why? It's long enough that it's hard to remember what everything is. So you sit there looking at the menu trying to puzzle through it (i got maybe 50% right), but of course you don't really get very far in making a decision. Then the waiter comes up and recites the whole thing... and your mind races trying to parse, remember and decide. Then the waiter walks away and you look across the table and ask "hang on... what was the razza thing again...?" Not that many people speak Italian in this country. A menu in spanish would be far more accessible than italian.

            It's a level of silly pretention that Peasant absolutely *does not need*. The food's very good there. It doesn't need that more gimmickery than the already enormous brick-oven facade. The italian-only menu raises the level of anxiety when ordering. I'd rather just relax and be presented a menu I can understand. At least when I'm not vacationing in a non-english-speaking country.

            1. I really like the food at Peasant, and agree - the menu thing, in a word, is stupid. The recitation is too long and too fast. I can't control myself from laughing and then I don't hear half the entrees.

              To the powers that be at Peasant: I swear no one will chastise you or think you any the less Italian if you put English translations on the menu.