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Sep 23, 2008 02:43 PM

Crispo or Alto?

My parents are coming and want Italian...I really wanted Scarpetta but it's booked. Crispo and Alto both have availability. Price and location do not matter. Which would you choose?


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  1. I hope that someone who has been to both chimes in - I've only been to Alto. Alto is a very high end, sophisticated place, very professional service, excellent food and wine list. My sense is that Crispo is a bit more casual/homier etc. Here's a thread with two reports of mine on Alto, in case it helps: - there's a recent report at the end.

    1. I've only been to Crispo. I took my parents to Crispo, and, while they liked the food, they did find it a bit loud (it was a Friday night).
      They're TOTALLY different restaurants and hard to compare. I think I'd go to Alto (based on what I've read) b/c I think it would be more impressive and the food would be more refined. However, if your parents like a more casual environment w/big portions of more "rustic" food, then Crispo might be a better choice.

      1. Like MMRuth, I've only been to Alto. She has described it to a "t." It is not a lively, happening place. Rather, the ambiance is reserved and very civilized though not stuffy. To be honest, the major reason I've avoided going to Crispo is because of the very high noise level. However, if your parents would prefer that level of liveliness to a serene setting like Alto's, then Crispo would be the better choice.

        1 Reply
        1. re: RGR

          I have only been to Crispo. It is deafening but we ate in the attached carriage house which was very nice. The food however was o.k. at best. I would not go back.

        2. I've been to both, though not since Alto switched chefs. The food, service, atmosphere at Alto are in total symphony. It is certainly on the pricier and more formal end of dining, but I don't think I have had a single complaint about my meals there, from the bread, to the service to the dessert. Moreover I thought the food from Alto-Aldige was quite different from the standard red sauce that is so ubiquitous in this city. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

          Crispo, however, attracted a lot of ire from me. Personally I thought it was the beneficiary of some serious hyping. The cuisine is pretty standard with a few volleys of originality that are not always successful. The room looks like a Cheesecake Factory and serves equally sized portions and noise. For something like a casual pasta and mozzarella sticks before hitting the Meatpacking District, this is fine. But I'm looking for similar cuisine and had options, I would probably go anywhere else in the city.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JungMann

            I would try Lunetta in the old Mayrose location...

          2. You may want to consider Convivio which is managed by the same chef Michael White as Alto's. It is more casual and more lively than Alto, but less crowded and noisy as Crispo. I think their food is better than Crispo as well.

            3 Replies
            1. re: kobetobiko

              Thanks all!! I decided to go to Convivio instead...sounds perfect for the occasion. Thank you for the input! Will report back.

              1. re: Crepe Suzette

                Great - it does sound like Convivio is the perfect 'inbetween'. Looking forward to hearing what you think of it, as I've still not been.

                1. re: Crepe Suzette

                  I'm a little late replying to this, but I can say, having dined at Alto once, Crispo many times, and Convivio twice and several times before when it was L'Impero, that Convivio is definitely your best choice. Enjoy and let us know how you like it. And do try Scarpetta when you get a chance, it is great too.