Legacy Records – review


Perpetually groovy Manhattan hotspots Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones have a new baby brother. Chef Ryan Hardy of the Delicious Hospitality Group birthed his newest Italo-Seafood supper club Legacy Records in early March. The restaurant is visionary in many respects. Not only did San Francisco designer Ken Fulk do an absolute number on the new space, with a high-end tribute to art deco and mid-century luxury using liberal helpings of emerald green, gold and mahogany, but the far west location somewhere between the Javitz Convention Center and DHL’s distribution hub at the base of a condo tower is definitely out there – that is until Hudson Yards becomes the city’s newest it neighborhood.


Legacy Records

Being able to snag a table at one of New York’s newest establishments delivers more than just bragging rights. First month jitters, growing pains and teething troubles often yield their own uniquely entertaining take-out stories, and Legacy Records is not immune. As we tried to gain access via the very masculine brick-and-steel Henry Hall condo lobby, a sign directed us to a side entrance, 50 feet away. Once there, a contradictory sign directed us back to the condo lobby. Then just as we marveled at the magnificently clubby, yet airy crescent bar and the staggering array of multi-leveled brass trumpet flower arrangements decorating the all-day dining café, we were suddenly immobilized by the instantaneous ambience destruction of a smoke alarm with intermittent deafening sirens and a pulsating cascade of flashing lights. Not exactly the tribute I had in mind for a former recording studio.

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 6.26.00 PMAs you circumnavigate the bar, a series of bold and funky artworks by Mickalene Thomas adorn the walls that lead to a somewhat less formal dining area flanked by a row of windows looking out onto a concrete wall as high as a prison yard. My hunch, hope or suggestion might be for a vertical garden to slightly diminish the claustrophobia.


Razor Clam Crudo, Legacy Records

The service has also not quite found its groove yet. After our waiter bragged that the butter was “especially imported”, a server seemed to think that it just came from “uptown”. (Turns out he clears tables at a different location for lunch and got his butter origins confused.) The only reason I’m making such a big deal about the butter is because it is indeed imported from France, and is accompanied by a cocoon-shaped dollop of rosemary-infused lard which collectively transforms the house-baked sprouted seed bread into a sublime and decadent feast. But the kicker came later in the meal when one of the bussers who was so intent on replacing our plates and flatware mid-course, that one of our table guests – who had 4 remaining mouthfuls to go – found himself at the defensive end of a tug-of-war.

“New plates,” the busser kept insisting.

“Not finished,” we kept replying.


Diver Scallop Crudo, Legacy Records

But the kitchen is indisputably pitch-perfect. The highly recommended Crudo for the table arrives in a multi-level ceramic sculpture resembling an architectural model of a Santorini cliffside villa. It includes a Razor Clam in a wonderfully tart and tangy saffron espellette, a delectable lime-yogurt flavored Diver Scallop – diced but still in the shell, and sweet but heat-loaded, sashimi-smooth slithers of Fluke, thanks to some citrusy jalapeno. I felt a little sorry for the Japanese Sea Urchin that got drowned out by a blasting chorus of Dungeness crab under a shellfish-flavored aioli.


Japanese Sea Urchin Crudo, Legacy Records

Some of the other small plates included San Daniele Prosciutto, hand-pulled Mozzarella and a charcoal grilled Pigeon, but we unanimously went for the seasonally appropriate and utterly rewarding Sunchokes. I cannot ever recall ever enjoying such dark and crispy lobes of sunchoke that gave way to soft and tender artichoke hearts and anchovies in a leafy, mushroomy salad.


Sunchoke Salad, Legacy Records

The half dozen pasta options are also more intriguing than your Italian go-to staples. We had to skip the pea and leak Raviolo Doppio and the cuttlefish Spaghetti in favor of the wondrous chestnut Tagliatelle with shards of duck ragu in a rich rosemary and liver sauce. And I hereby commit to trying the über-popular shellfish Risotto next time.


Honey lacquered Duck for Two, Legacy Records

The mains are the usual carousel of Italian RCB’s (Ribeye, Chicken, Branzino) with a Duck for Two as the absolute showstopper. The honey-lacquered roasted bird gets paraded around in her birthday suit featuring a dark mahogany crust with a rosemary plume before being whisked away for dissection and plating. “Our” duck made 2 separate appearances by 2 separate waiters, revealing that she was perhaps selected for objectification and exhibition purposes only. Regardless, I predict that the duo of super tender breast slices bordered by a nutty, spicy and delectably sweet skin are sure to elevate this dish to billboard status before the summer is over.

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Gelatos, Legacy Records

Desserts include a Rum cake and other equally odd bits and bobs, but the popular must-haves are the Gelatos served in cracker-crispy house-made cones. Right now, flavors like Bananas foster, Chocolate fudge and Yoghurt rhubarb were all she wrote, but I have a strong feeling that this repertoire will continue to grow as the temperature rises.

What better way to usher in the spring than a fresh new hit in a hip, new hood.




Peasant review

Peasant -

There are myriad reasons why New Yorker’s prefer not to eat Italian food in Little Italy. Too many gullible tourists who think it’s authentic, too many look-a-like rooms boasting near-identical menus, too much pressure from manipulative, apron-wasted, hair-slicked-back sidewalk talkers, too many other good options vying for their dining dollars, or perhaps because one can only eat just so many meatballs and just so much red sauce.

Peasant - Cannolicchi (Razor clams)

Cannolicchi (Razor clams)

It’s therefore doubly curious that Frank DeCarlo’s rustic exposed vintage brick, concrete-floored, wooden bench filled ristorante Peasant not only dared to defy his neighbors by not succumbing to any of the Italo-American staples and (quite literally) build his own wood-fire oven and rotisserie kitchen, but that his success story has endured the renaming and reshaping of the neighborhood some 15 years later. If you ask any New Yorker if they’ve ever eaten at Peasant, they will probably say: “Ages ago. Is it still around?” Not only still around but DeCarlo has been consistently packing them in long before, during and (not surprisingly) after Michele Obama and the first daughters’ recent visit.

The menu runs the gamut of delicacies from earth, sea and sky, with just enough flavor restraint to allow the benefit of cooking at over 700 degrees to really pay off. The Acciuga E Radice salad is a wonderfully simple combination of mild white anchovies, radishes and crusty croutons tossed in a complimentary red-wine vinaigrette. The appropriately named Polpi in Purgatorio (Octopus in purgatory) though immaculately tamed in a garlic and chili butter would have welcomed a touch more tenderness, but the white-wine, garlic and breadcrumb encrusted Cannolicchi (Razor Clams) were a home run.

Peasant - Spaghettini Ricci

Spaghettini Ricci

The primi piatti selections include a Risotto, a Gnocchi and a tight handful of pastas including a rich and decadent Spaghettini Ricci laden with roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh sea urchin. Even though the fire-crusted-skinned Orata alla Griglia (Grilled Sea Bream) looked rather lonely on top of a rosemary quilt with only a tiny goblet of herb butter for company, the pure ocean flavor and perfectly moist texture is indubitably the best I have ever eaten.

Peasant - Whole roasted Rabbit

Whole roasted Rabbit

But the money on the table has to be the whole-roasted Rabbit. Although not on the menu, (my hunch says it will be very soon) the leporid is heartily stuffed with rosemary, (clearly chef DeCarlo’s favorite go-to herb) and then tightly wrapped in guanciale (pork jowels) which caramelize around the skin forming a smoky, salty and incredibly fragrant aroma. I realize that the thought of a rabbit stuck between the cheeks of a pig might put one over the edge, but the combination of these two worlds on one plate is utterly delicious and completely unforgettable.

Peasant - Rhubarb and Berry Stew

Rhubarb and Berry Stew

Somewhat more forgettable were the ten-more-minutes-on-the-cooker-would-have-done-it Rhubarb and Berry stew, and the overly-dense Chocolate Ganache, but thanks to our waiter’s theatrically gesticulating descriptions, via his thick yet disarmingly authentic accent, the dessert options are certainly worth hearing about.