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Best Place to Go on a First Date

194 Elizabeth St.

In the daylight, when the wood-burning ovens are cold, the high-ceilinged, open room looks like a half-raw downtown loft space. But something magical happens to Peasant at night, when the redbrick arches on the far wall frame the open kitchen's flames, votives are lit, and a corona of soft, diffuse light glows from behind the mirrors. Peasant gets sexy. Not kitschy-coo romantic, or lounge-lizard lusty, but sexy. With his rustic, big-flavored, shareable cooking, chef-owner Frank DeCarlo stokes our anticipation. Pearly orbs of fresh bocconcini embraced by glistening stoles of thickly smoked ham, strips of rabbit loin lacquered by a red-wine-and-mushroom ragù on bucatini, and the golden, crackling skin of his spit-roasted hen will fulfill at least one desire. And knowing that DeCarlo used such sultry dishes to enchant and win his wife, Dulcinea Benson, who is sometimes at the front of the house, should imbue you with all the confidence you need to say those three little words, "Wanna share dessert?"

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