Peasant — the 20-year-old Nolita restaurant that was one of the pioneers of open-fire cooking in New York City — will no longer close in December. Instead owner and chef Frank DeCarlo is passing the buck to Marc Forgione, the chef best known for his eponymous Tribeca restaurant and for winning the Next Iron Chef in 2010.
DeCarlo, who previously announced he’d be closing the restaurant, will step down from his post at the end of this month and focus on his Lower East Side restaurant Bacaro, and his North Fork establishment Barba Bianca, according to the Times, which broke the news of the change.
Since its debut in 1999, Peasant has been heralded for its simple, wood-fired dishes, most notably its suckling pig, which is slow-roasted for several hours before it’s served. The restaurant is also a favorite in the restaurant industry and among chefs — Daniel Boulud celebrated his 50th birthday here.
Forgione, who is buying the restaurant from DeCarlo, intends to maintain the character of the restaurant and will keep most of the menu intact, albeit with a few minor tweaks and changes. Most of the staff at Peasant, many of whom have worked there for several years, will also be kept on after the transition. Sous-chef Olivier Pillard will steer the ship during the transition period.
For Forgione, owning the restaurant is a great sense of pride. “This is the sexiest restaurant I’ve ever seen in my life,” Forgione tells the Times, of his first time eating at the restaurant as a young chef. For DeCarlo, he’s passed the torch off into the best hands possible. “He’s coming from the same place,” he tells the Times. “He’s perfect.”
In addition to Peasant and his eponymous restaurant, Forgione has two other projects in the works. He plans to open another restaurant in Tribeca, at 16 Hudson Street, between Duane and Reade Streets. He’s also teaming up with his influential father and chef Larry Forgione and the Butter Group, the latter of which is behind popular spots like 1 OAK, to take over the former Spice Market space in the Meatpacking District.