Crispo is one of my new favorite Italian restaurants. Initially recommended by my co-workers when I arrived in fall of 2007, it was not until this November that I finally checked it out for the first time. And recently, I went back again. After you enter, you pass through the coat check area and the hostess stand to enter into the main room; It feels nice and cozy. This is a fabulous date spot. They take reservations, which I’d recommend if you’re going at peak NY dining times (7pm+). The second time I went we were there around 6pm and were seated without a problem.
They have a wide variety of appetizers to choose from. The menu is seriously like a weapon; it’s so large, but its contents are good, so we’ll let that slide. They noted they were known for their risotto balls, so I had to give that a go. I have never tried them before, let alone heard of, such a thing. Seeing as it was fried, I figured it couldn’t hurt. Quite good. They were lightly battered and stuffed with creamy melted mozzarella and rice. One time we got the salumi tasting platter – quite a good value for the $23 investment. Be warned, the portion size is large. Huge. Only recommended if you are seriously hungry or have no qualms with sending some back unfinished.
For the main dish, their crisp chicken “alla diavola” is my favorite. It’s not full-on fried, just slightly crispy, and the sauce definitely has quite a bit of punch to it. It came atop a bed of polenta. Chicken and polenta… I don’t know if there’s a better combination. Their snapper filet special of the day, paired with zucchini fritti is also very well done. (Even though it is classified as a special, it has been listed as a special both times I have been to Crispo. I’m curious if it is one of those “staple specials”.) The fish is soft and flaky and the zucchini should be served as a side on its own. Very lightly battered – just enough to give the zucchini a little extra salty punch. I’ve also tried their seared duck breast (“aceto di pera”). I’m not a fan of greasy heavy duck but do enjoy it when prepared nicely. Crispo did an excellent job.
The only negative we had was in response to their pappardelle, which came served with chanterelles and parmigiano. It was also one of their specials of the day. Due to my mushroom allergy, I was not able to personally partake. My friends say the pasta was good and clearly fresh, but that overall the dish was very bland and needed something else.
Most of their pastas range from $19.50 to $21.95, with other main courses ranging from $19.95 to $23.50. They also have an extensive wine selection and I have found their wait staff to be very knowledgeable on selection. Their selection is a wide price range, starting from $36 and up, so there should be something available in everyone’s price range. Highly recommend.
Crispo – 240 W14th Street, Between 7th & 8th Avenue – 212.229.1818