April 12, 2004 | Ask Gael
Give me a break from go-for-broke cuisine.

         Come back to earth and baby your budget with the homey cooking of Sardinia at Assenzio in Alphabet City. Scattered candles and dishtowel-draped tables echo the kitchen’s rustic ways, expressed in dishes like zuppetta of handmade fregola pasta and clams in a spicy tomato broth and in the careful frying of calamari and artichokes. The maccheroncini tossed with eggplant, zucchini, mozzarella, and tomato sauce, and the lemon trenette with sardines and Sicilian orange, are wonderfully fresh and layered with flavor. All the salads cry out for a livelier vinaigrette, but the branzino is a model of careful cooking, and myrtle perfumes remarkably moist suckling pig alongside fabulous roasted potatoes. Braised wild boar in a red-wine sauce is scented with juniper. And nothing costs more than $15.95. But bring cash.

205 East 4th Street 212 677 9466