194 Elizabeth St.
New York NY, 10012

The Chef

When Frank DeCarlo opened his restaurant, Peasant, on Elizabeth St in Nolita, he had no idea how popular the area would become. “It was 1999 and this area was part of Little Italy, I’ve lived and worked here most of my life and I have no idea where the name Nolita came from. We were the first real restaurant in the area that didn’t serve meatballs or fried calamari so the neighborhood gave us a hard time at first.” Despite the Little Italy “red sauce” expectations DeCarlo went on to create a chef’s hangout as well as a successful neighborhood place. “We have so many friends from the industry eating here and of course we have great clients from the area, it’s a win/win situation for us, like cooking for friends and family almost every night.” Peasant has become an after-hours dinner hangout for the likes of Jean-Louis Palladin, a DeCarlo soul mate; Daniel Boulud, who held a 50th among many others. “They all like this place because it reminds them of when they started out using charcoal and wood in France,” says DeCarlo. “At the end of their meal, they all wind up in the kitchen blown away by this technique. it’s a real dying art”. In keeping with its namesake. the atmosphere of Peasant is unmistakably authentic rustic Italian. Long wooden tables and church pew benches, exposed brick walls, bare, concrete floors and candlelight make for the perfect foreground for the star of the show, the open kitchen featuring vintage brick wood-fire ovens, rotisserie and grill, all hand crafted by DeCarlo himself, “I think I was a mason in a past life, laying the brick in this kitchen was almost as fun as cooking in it every night.” And cook he does. DeCarlo is one of the last chefs in NYC who cooks on the line every night. He won’t even roll his sleeves to expedite. “That’s the worst job in the kitchen. That’s not what I signed up for.”