The Italian restaurant Peasant is charming and delightful. Open kitchens are no longer a novelty, but no open kitchen contributes more to a restaurant’s atmosphere as the one at Peasant. The raw, rustic aroma of its wood-burning stoves make you forget you’re in New York City.
The menu is entirely in Italian, and even seasoned diners will need a translation. (Anyone know the Italian word for cuttlefish?) The knowledgeable server (from New Zealand!) happily explained the menu all night long, but it’s a lot to keep straight in your head. We wondered why they don’t just print the translations on the menu itself, which would save both diners and servers a lot of trouble. The menu is printed on distressed paper, meant to look like it’s an ancient relic.
To start, I did indeed have the cuttlefish, which came in a super-heated cast-iron skillet. Bathed in vegetables and spices, it was delightful. For the main course, I tried an off-menu special, the suckling pig liver, which was tender and expertly prepared. My friend had the osso buco, of which I had a taste. It was about as flavorful as any osso buco I’ve tried.
The bread service came with an overflowing bowl of soft ricotta (but we had to use our appetizer knives to spread it with). It took plenty of self-control to limit ourselves to one slice each.
Dinner for two, with a moderately-priced bottle of wine, came to $133 with tax, before tip.
Peasant (194 Elizabeth Street between Spring and Prince Streets, NoLIta)