Slideshow: Exchange Alley: New Orleans Meets NYC in Charming East Village Restaurant

Jambalaya balls ($10)
Jambalaya balls ($10)
The "dirty gravy" served with the jambalaya balls is unapologetically intense, a pork, beef, and dark roux gravy made rich and sultry with chicken liver. "It's inspired by Cajun dirty rice. It's essentially that dish, without the rice," says the chef. "It's like taking an old backwoods recipe and adding French technique." It's an excellent counterpart to the balls themselves, with arancino-like golden brown crunch, whose interior reveals highly spiced rice with rock shrimp.
Fried pickled okra ($8)
Fried pickled okra ($8)
Continuing the trend of well-fried Southern fare; the strong vinegar flavor adding a little interest to what would otherwise be just a straightforward fried vegetable.
Ricotta and lemon flatbread ($11)
Ricotta and lemon flatbread ($11)
Done well, a thin, pliant bread cooked on the grill with a little bit of char, creamy ricotta with a ton of salt, olive oil. and lemon zest to keep things interesting.
"Priest stranglers" ($18)
You could call them strozzapretti, their Italian monicker, but what fun is that? The dish starts with housemade pork sausage, cooked with a ton of garlic and Calabrian chilies; the pan is deglazed with vodka, Pernod, cream, parmesan, and tomatoes confited in olive oil. The pasta, too, is housemade. Straightforward, soul-satisfying, and pretty tough to stop eating.
"Hard herb hanger" ($21)
Not everything was cooked perfectly. Generally, a good crust and a much rarer interior on a hanger steak is exactly what I want, but on our first visit, the exterior was so charred as to completely dominate the flavor, whereas the interior was a deep, almost-raw reddish-purple. We liked the spice crust on the steak, though—rosemary, sage, and oregano—and the potato-tomato-onion-herb salad alongside.

Dish pictured here is from a later photoshoot.