Peasant has always been an Infatuation standby - a place we turn to when we're in the need of something reliable in Nolita. That said, we turned to it a lot more before places like Rubirosa and Uncle Boons showed up in the neighborhood. Vodka sauce pizza and Thai coconut sundaes win out over sensible Italian food every time. So, after a few year hiatus, we decided it was time for a return visit, to see if Peasant is still as good as it used to be - and to see if anything on their menu could compete with those celebrity food items from the newer restaurants down the street.
After our recent trips to Peasant, here's what we can tell you: This place is more touristy and more parent-y than it used to be. Why? My initial guess was that it's listed at something like #3 on Trip Advisor for New York's best restaurants, but nope, that honor goes to Club A Steakhouse in Midtown East. Ever heard of it? Didn't think so. But there are a fuck ton of people form Arizona who think that's the THIRD BEST OF WHAT WE'VE GOT. Seems legit.
At any rate, we're not sure exactly what's driving all the tourist traffic into Peasant, and we don't really care either. The food here is still really good, especially if you know what to order and stick to the hits, which you can find in the Food Rundown below. We still like their subterranean wine room better than the main dining room on street level - just because it's a bit more vibey - but both spaces have a warm, rustic feel that will make you excited to eat some Italian food from a wood-burning oven. Peasant also has a solid, affordable wine list and a really nice staff that will take good care of you, regardless of where you or your parents are from. You'd think that would be enough to bump up their ranking on Trip Advisor, maybe unseating Kristalbelli for the #10 spot. Wait, what the f*ck is Kristalbelli? Excuse me while I go yell at things.
Anchovy and Radish Salad
An absolutely excellent salad, assuming you can get down with anchovies. There's also some fennel, parsley, and crusty bread in the mix, and it will all make you happy.
Polpi In Purgatorio
We love it when food comes from a wood-burning oven right to your table, still in an iron pot. Thats what happens here with this baby octopus, and it's worth an order.
A perfect example of this classic Italian dish. The pasta is al dente, the clams are plentiful, and it's got just the right amount of kick. You need this.
Gnocchi con Funghi
Another must order from the pasta menu. This gnocchi with mushrooms and peas is one of the best gnocchi dishes you can get in this city. Don't come here and not eat this.
Agnello Con Polenta
Another famous Peasant dish, this is a leg of lamb done up in the wood burning oven and served over polenta. This + cold weather + red wine is my favorite kind of math problem.
Razza Con Capperi
Quite possibly the best overall item on this menu. This is a huge serving of skate in an iron pan, topped with breadcrumbs and served with butter and capers. The thing that we love most about it, though, is how little it tastes like hot butter. This is all about the perfectly cooked fish, and the sauce in the pan is a mere compliment. Order it.