Since I was absolutely ravenous, I arrived early and quickly ordered the asparagus, tomato, arugula, and parmesan salad. I wasn't in the mood for cheese so asked if I could have another veggie instead of the cheese; the waitress informed me I could have a different cheese if I wanted, or if not I could have more asparagus or more tomato. I chose more asparagus, placated if not thrilled (although I do love asparagus).
While you wait for my food to arrive, I leave you with this creatively punctuated promotional piece.
My salad arrived almost instantly, dressing on the side as requested. Overall, it was pretty standard, if a bit small. The asparagus was buried under the greens, and there definitely was ample asparagus (tender, well-cooked, and well-salted), although I could have used more greens and more tomatoes. But it was a good salad, and at $8.50, not overly expensive.
Despite my vow not to eat any of the bread (after an absurd midday cupcake binge... stay tuned for more information on that), I was still so hungry after the salad that I requested one of their bread baskets. I've liked their addictive, chewy, thick-crusted bread for so long, it's hard to resist... and although this particular batch was a bit burnt on the crust, it was still amazing with some olive oil and salt.
SL arrived soon after my salad had been put away, and she ordered a dish of arancini and a dish of eggplant caponata. I'm not a big risotto-ball fan myself, so I didn't try the arancini, but SL professed that they were delicious. I did try the caponata, which was a very good version of the classic-- huge chunks of eggplant, spices, and plenty of olive oil to lubricate the mix. Definitely well done.
By the time we left, the dining room was bustling (and very, very loud... they definitely need some acoustical fabrics in there to soften the blow). We paid our reasonable bill and left, albeit with difficulty because the tables were so close together (when I attempted to squeeze past our neighbors to get to the bathroom, my butt knocked silverware off their table. Maybe I shouldn't have had the bread after all...). I really like Crispo because it's very user-friendly-- the staff is nice and accommodating, it's always pretty easy to get a reservation, and I've taken a big group there with great success. The food is highly competent versions of classic, familiar Italian dishes-- nothing knock-your-socks-off groundbreaking, but nothing that will puzzle or disappoint either. Whenever you're looking for a low-key Italian meal and are in the Chelsea/West Village neighborhood, keep Crispo in mind: it's great for a mid-week no-fuss three Offset Spatula meal.
240 W. 14th Street, between 7th and 8th Aves