Thursday, May 2, 2013

Crispo, Christmas, and all things Manhattan

Welcome readers! Now while it's obviously no surprise that New York City enables the plucky and enthusiastic visitor any number of experiences, summer or winter.  A few musts, depending on the season are strolling The Highline in summer’s heat (wear a tank top, trust me) ice skating in Central Park, (Don’t wear a tank top), or seeing that same Central Park in full bloom in late April (bring a blanket for an afternoon snooze) or catching a ferry to of the city’s many public beaches, to swim and explore the sights of New York’s migratory sunbathers. There truly is something for everyone.

This was certainly the case for one certain Saturday Night in the City. This past Holiday season I was invited to a festive, read fancy schmancy, holiday party in the West Village. Awesome… I LOVE parties. Any excuse to dress up, eat fancy finger foods and hobnob like I’m at the Oscars I’m all for it. (You like me, you REALLY like me!) Let me just say, this soiree deserves its own accolades and review from the Novice Fork. Put on by mutual friends in their lovingly restored and amazingly tasteful West Village brownstone, (what a house!) it was the event of my season. I even met a celeb (Australia’s Next Top Model, anyone?) I had a blast. Catered, bartended and robustly attended, and complete with a beautiful Christmas tree around which guests placed toys for a local charity, I was high on life (and gin). Definitely “thank you note” worthy.

Before this party, to make sure my hunger needs were attended to, my friend and I decided upon a restaurant of the Italian persuasion. Best. Decision. Ever. So this 4th installment of the Novice Fork “New York City Edition” brings us to a fantastic Italian restaurant smack dab between Chelsea and the West Village.  Crispo is its name and so we being.

240 West 14th Street New York, NY 10011
www.crisporestaurant .com

Novice Fork gives this cozy Italian nook 5 stars 
for its value, fun atmosphere and authenticity

Put very simply, I love this place. When I’m craving good Italian food I think back, very fondly, to the meal I had here. The first night I experienced everything that is Crispo it was cold, but a very festive atmosphere clung to the air. Holiday season in full swing and decked out in our finest, my friend and I made our way to our table of the cozy and warm restaurant with exposed brick, dim lights, and roaring laughter and glasses clinging. Dining room atmosphere? Check. The fun thing about this restaurant is that not only do they have the bar area and main dinning room, but they have a year-round garden room and carriage house with a beautifully rustic "family style" long table. Its beautiful. for my first time at Crispo we were seated at a very small table right near the bar area and large, garden level window and promptly watered and breaded and a bottle of white wine selected.  Service? Check.

The regular menu at Crispo has the usual Italian suspects, all of which I can boldly assume are great and they a have a decent wine list and a full bar to keep customers happy and hazily full of grappa and limoncello. The night I went here there was an additional specials menu that had a half dozen supplemental pasta dishes and salads. As a rule of thumb, I usually order the special, if its only around for a limited time I might as well take advantage, no? Featured was a special Caprese Salad, or quite consistently the best thing on the planet. So naturally I had to order it. Here at Crispo? They knocked out of the park. The Mozzarella was imported buffalo straight from the Italian source and this is what sets a good Caprese apart. With excellent tomatoes and a very rich balsamic drizzle and fresh basil it is my favorite salad and they did it very well. Ok ok, enough gushing. But damn it was tasty.

Now, the entrĂ©e. I again selected from the special menu and I am BEYOND glad I did. The dish I received was easily the best pasta I have ever eaten. Granted I haven’t, sadly, been to Italy (an issue) but suffice to say any visiting Italian to this restaurant would agree with me, or at least approve. Ladies and gentleman, may I present Lobster Bolognese over Squid Ink pasta.  OMG. To say I overreacted when taking my initial bites would be a gross understatement. I felt like Meg Ryan from, well, every movie she has ever been in. (Love you girl.) People stared, but did I care? NO, dammit! The pasta was salty but light and perfectly Al dente, the lobster perfectly cooked (and important distinction for a Mainer to bestow) and the sauce? Plate-licking good. Food? A massive, enthusiastic check.

For only $19, this dish was a steal— nuanced and well crafted. I was a happy holiday camper.  I can’t even remember what my friend had. Chicken? Who knows. Does it matter? No. I had a great meal here. Seriously one of those dishes I’ll always remember. Go to this restaurant the next time you are in the city. Honestly it should be your first stop. Enjoy