194 Elizabeth Street between Prince and Spring, New York City
about $150 for two, with two drinks, without tip
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It’s hard to convince me to try a restaurant dubbed “Best Place to Impress a First Date” but after walking by Peasant one afternoon, I thought of it as the best place to treat my special someone to dinner. The first thing you see as soon as you walk in is the fire from the brick oven in the back where they cook all their Italian fare the traditional way. The dark wood gives the restaurant a rustic feel, but the aluminum chairs add a touch of modernity.
We split the baked scallops topped with breadcrumbs and the octopus in vinaigrette. The beet and mixed greens salad was excellent. We like it when the waitstaff gives us some time in between courses, but Peasant stretched it a bit too long. The appetizers settled in our stomachs, that by the time the boy’s squab was served, we were already full. We started to slice the bird but had to send it back because it was too rare. Maybe the cooks in the back need more light than the brick oven provides. I also had to hold up a candle to see what kind of beans arrived on our table–fava–and what mushrooms smelled so good–porcini–with my sweetbreads. I’ve never had sweetbreads as a main course before but if there’s a restaurant that takes everything to the max, Peasant is it.
For dessert, we wished for the peach tart topped with hazelnut ice cream but decided to skip it after we saw that it was more that the size of a big slice. I appreciate big portions for the amount of money they charge, but there are times when I’d prefer a smaller plate rather than a gluttonous one. Fortunately, a smaller space in the basement offers smaller plates.