By: Ethan Shen
Last night we went to Crispo, an Italian restaurant near Union Square. The first thing that struck my attention was how wholly un-Italian the atmosphere was. While I wasn’t expecting red checkered table cloths or a mustached mandolin player, the abstract art that adorned the walls and moody lounge lighting definitely told me that I was in for something different tonight. The first pleasure of the night came at the bar. From blood orange martinis to whiskey lemonade, the creative assortment of cocktails showed great originality and were an excellent way to open the evening. I highly recommend the white pear sangria, light and refreshing, and served with clear enthusiasm from the man tending bar.
There are few things life greater than an open air restaurant in the summertime and it’s here that Crispo’s architecture really stands out. The rear garden area is ingeniously designed so that the lights and crossbeams spanning the open space above you creates a faux ceiling that almost makes the sky and stars beyond it feel like an illusion, like eating at Hogwarts. The atmosphere is genuinely unique as the classy warmth of eating inside blends quietly with the charm of dining under the stars. Make sure to specifically request this if you’re making a reservation.
And don’t let me forget the food! We started the meal with fresh mozzarella, almond-maple Brussels sprouts with prosciutto, and cured beef appetizers. The mozzarella and beef was quality, as were the crunchy mystery vegetable layered on top, but the Brussels sprouts were unmistakably the star of the opening act. Lightly sweet and a hint of prosciutto, the sprouts were cooked to the perfect texture that let you feel every layer as you bit through but then melted in your mouth once you were done. Outstanding.
Appetizers were followed by Seared Duck Breast, Short Ribs and Scallops, and an excellent Ricotta Gnocchi. The duck was also well done with a flavorful sauce and surprisingly hearty. I had almost resigned myself to tragedy that loving duck meant eating meager portions at most restaurants, but at Crispo I found myself happily working my way through what may very well have been an entire duck long after my companions were done.
Alas, no room for dessert, but in all Crispo delivered a great meal at a very reasonable value. The service was very attentive and friendly though sometimes disorienting because multiple waitresses seemed to be tag teaming our table. Conveniently located, easy to walk-in, good price, versatile ambience, and excellent food, this restaurant is easy to recommend.
240 W. 14th St
New York, NY 10011