Le Zucco

In New York City, it's hard to find restaurants that are hidden gems anymore, and in light of recent events, it seems that this hidden gem has been taken away from us...

Le Zucco is a tiny (and I mean tiny - three tables and seats about eight people in total) French restaurant in the Lower East Side.  Ironically, we found it because of a Groupon.  The restaurant has kind of a French-people-only trespassers-beware appearance about it, but the ambiance inside was more welcoming.

We ordered a large charcuterie plate with cheese, meat, and fruit; escargot; french onion soup; and merguez sausages. The waiter who took our order also happened to be the owner and head chef, a grungy shaggy-haired guy that definitely exuded a Frenchy air about him.  I loved, however, that he knew our orders by memory and he himself then went behind the bar to start pouring our wine and cooking our food from scratch.  All the while, he schmoozed and double-European-cheek-kissed other passersby who seemed to just come by the restaurant to say hi to him.  I don't know how I can properly convey the fascinating dining experience we had: it was refreshing to actually see the homemade, personal touch that the chef imbued in his creations.  Just a few feet away, without any walls or windows blocking the way, the giant cooktop hopped with flames.  If that weren't enough, monsieur brought us our dishes too.

The charcuterie plate was heaped high with mortadella and salami and some sort of ham; hard and soft cheeses; some fruit; and croutons.  The offerings were diverse and tasty, if not unique.  My escargot came next: six little bundles of garlicky buttery gastropods.  Yum!  They were sizzling hot and reminded me of the escargot I've had in Paris.  I'm not a fan of French onion soup that Alex always likes to order, but I found this rendition was not too salty at all and had great sweet caramelized onion on top.  Finally, our last dish was the merguez sausages: very spicy with good lamb flavor.  Overall, everything was delicious, authentic, and left me tres joyeux....

UNFORTUNATELY, by the evil will of the Health Department or something else, Le Zucco was shut down the next time we passed by.  The food gods give and they take away.  What a pity for the LES to lose such a restaurant, and definitely sad for us too.