photo by Reimy Gonzalez

Ask general manager Paul Grieco to nutshell what Hearth is all about and he’ll tell you the 10-year-old East Village dining destination is “a chef-driven restaurant where the chef is actually present.” We couldn’t say it better. Grieco and chef Marco Canora are well-versed in the template’s pluses and pitfalls: Both are alums of Gramercy Tavern. True to its name, Hearth is dedicated to warmth and simplicity, with a strong shot of perfectionism. Grieco is in charge of the extensive booze lists, the wine portion of which is all over the place in the best sense, though it does betray Grieco’s infatuation (to put it mildly) with Riesling. Canora’s menu — Tuscan-flavor-forward, seasonal, and close-by-farmer-driven — is laid out in thirds, with first courses on the left, entrées and sides on the right, flanking a section highlighting a couple of mouthwatering “Dishes to Share.” They mean it: We’re talking a big-ass, whole roasted fish. Or perhaps you’d prefer a rabbit. We’ll have the bunny. And we’ll be sure to ask the chef to serve ours not braised or roasted, but fried.