Crispo - Sunday Night Dinner Report
Somehow, I talked my visiting mother into going out to dinner below 42nd Street last night. (I don't know how it happened; I'm still in shock that she agreed.) Being mainstays of the Upper West Side, I decided not to shock her too much and took her to Crispo for dinner. I'd never been, but it had been recommended by friends.
In a word, it was just lovely. We shared some of the antipasti (the roasted red peppers with capers, the ricotta tartuffo and the sausage-stuffed sage leaves.) Each was very good in their own way, my favorite being the ricotta. With the added taste of the truffle oil whipped in, it had a really great taste and was perfect on their peasant-style bread. We both agreed that we liked the sage leaves - they're basically save leaves rolled around sausage and then dipped in batter and fried. It was something very different from what we normally eat, and we enjoyed it. (Total for those three items was $12.50.)
My mom had a crispy veal special, that was served with melted mozzarella and spinach. I tasted it and it was really quite good - well-seasoned, crispy and nicely balanced with the cheese and a little tomato sauce. I ate the pasta special, which was a mushroom papardelle. It was really super - thick chunks of meaty mushrooms in a really light sauce went very well with the wide, yet super thin papardelle. (I think my mom's entree was $19 and mine was $21.)
We both also really enjoyed the atmosphere - it was very laid back, a little bit "younger" than my neighborhood but not so much that my mom felt out of place. I'm sure it would have been even younger had we been there on a Friday or Saturday, instead of Sunday night. Personally, I enjoyed the soundtrack which included some nice oldies and a little Cat Stevens. The service was good and unobtrusive. All in all, a good dinner, not expensive at all, and I convinced my mother that downtown is not bad. Hooray!
We went last night. Three appetizers -- mozzarella balls, plate of olives, anchovies in citrus -- apparently some sort of ceviche. Entrees were hanger steak and chicken alla diavola. Portions were substantial, anchovies were sublime. I actually couldn't finish all of my chicken, because it was so much food. It was Friday night and the place was PACKED. Service suffered a bit. Food was still impressive. I'm amazed that they got such good stuff out of the kitchen with so many people in the house.
I had been dying to try Crispo based on the many recs on this board. I made a reservation on opentable.com. I felt we were throroughly rushed. We were given a lousy table (The first one as you enter) in the Garden Room. Our app was served and then the mains just as the app plate was whisked away. We were in and out in about an hour.
The Risotto Balls were very good and had a full risotto'chicken stock flavor.
The pastas were good but cooked softer than al dente.
The Veal Saltimbocca was terrible, overcooked mushy veal with dried-out prosciutto melded to it.
I would return only if I were in the neighborhood around 6 p.m.and had a Spaghetti and Meatball jones. Not very likely.
We have yet to try Crispo. Your experience is certainly at odds with the many Hounds who rave about it. Since you and I often agree when it comes to evaluating restaurants, this does give me pause. Hmmm....
We've been back to Trecolori a couple of times since they re-opened. Food's better than ever.
Next time you're in midtown, you might want to give Osteria Gelsi a try. It's been around for three years, but we went there for the first time last week and, after the delicious meal we had, I left kicking myself for not having tried it sooner. As the expression goes, better late.... :-)
Thanks for the comment on the homemade pasta. We had buccatini, spaghetti and a little twisty pasta.
I am very glad to hear that TT is back! Next time I am in town with the in-laws that's the place for us! I also will give Osteria gelsi a shot.
I know my recs are not the norm on Crispo. I was disappointed. But if anyone else has had that first table by the fountain as a party of three (it is, at best a table suited for two and right next to a door that continually opens and closes) might find it hard to focus on the food. Although I liked the spaghetti, it wasn't an orgiastic experience. I liked dinner at Pesant much more.
I would concur that, if the dining areas are really full, a number of the tables appeared are probably uncomfortably situated. Front window also has a three that should really only be a two, etc. This being said, we actually did have a cheery, convivial meal and thought that the food was good.