by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
July 9, 2009

Ragu of Odd Things: Oxtail, Trotters & Tripe w/ Hand-Rolled Orecchiette
50 Commerce St
(Barrow & Bedford Sts)
New York, NY 10014

Commerce Restaurant InteriorKatherine Bryant

Commerce is the latest restaurant to occupy the historic location at 50 Commerce Street in the West Village. Tucked in the nook of the winding road, the restaurant is unassuming, and hence was once an ideal location for a speakeasy during the Depression.

Chef and co-owner Harold Moore’s talent is evident in everything that comes out of the kitchen. I first had the pleasure of meeting Chef Moore at March, where he was Chef de Cuisine. Now a couple of years later, he’s running his own kitchen and restaurant, and Commerce is the perfect showcase for his craft.

Even before my sister and I began our meal, we were enjoying the dizzying variety of handmade breads in the breadbasket that included an epi roll, garlic foccacia, red pepper olive rolls, a parker house roll, pretzels, whole wheat sourdough, a sweet sesame roll, salted butter roll and bacon sauerkraut roll. Even though I didn’t want to fill up on carbs before the meal, I couldn’t help but taste a bite of everything. It was like a treasure chest of breads, and my favorite was the red pepper olive roll with its savory and piquant flavors.

I always start my meal with a salad to keep my diet balanced. However, more often than not, salads at restaurants tend to disappoint. But the salad of 20 herbs and lettuces with Manchego cheese at Commerce was perfection. The essence of each herb expressed itself in this light salad dressed with olive oil and lemon that made it come alive. The herbs included basil, mint, dill, chives, cilantro, oregano, and thyme; and an array of lettuces complemented each other, including red oak, baby bibb, mizuna, bok choy, arugula, dandelion, and micro-celery sprouts.

The ragu of odd things, though an appetizer, was rich enough to satisfy as an entrée. The smooth hand-rolled orecchiette was the ideal texture to pair with the varied textures of the oxtail, trotters and tripe. Even if you don’t like outlandish offal stews, I’d keep an open mind about this dish as the flavor is balanced and the textures are exceptional.

There are some Asian influences on Chef Moore’s menu, which comes from his Japanese grandmother. The special sashimi that evening, served with disposable chopsticks, however, didn’t quite work in terms of flavor or mixing utensils.

Dessert was an interesting sundae of banana ice cream with layered cereal and chocolate sauce. At first bite, I thought it was too sweet, but then, the contrast of textures, once again, got me hooked.

To fully utilize the dining room’s space at Commerce, the tables are slightly crammed. But the atmosphere is lively, so it’s a good place to go for bustling energy when you don’t mind hearing your neighbor’s conversations and making new friends.

Also in American, Meat, Pasta, Salad, West Village


Comments (1)


Jul 9, 09:45 AM

yes, those pepper olive rolls were amazing! I still think about them in the days after…

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