Checked out Crispo last night, the new cozy Italian @ 240 West 14th Street
Been open one month, and service-wise it shows, however for one month, food-wise it is good.
Got there at 6 hoping to get a table for one without a reservation, but no such luck, as there were many parties w/o reservations who showed up with a similar idea, and the bar tables seated immediately. The one table they did offer me was by the entrance hall and I decided the bar would be more comfortable. (not to mention they had just seated the entire bar area at once, and I knew the server in this area would have his or her hands full.) I had said I would give them a table back in an hour, and asked if I could have one in the main room reserved for 7 or 7:30, but they said they could not accommodate me. When I left at 7:05, there were still a few tables in the main room that had gone unoccupied during my meal.
The bartender was still busy getting ready for service and taking care of the drink orders for the opening rush and was not too attentive. She set up my bottle of sparkling water (large @ $5) but did not pour it. When I asked her to suggest a fruity white, she could not and then asked one of the servers who also could not. Manager Jeff to the rescue he stepped in and recommended a lovely Lacryma Christi ($8/glass) and then discussed the menu with me. I had my heart set on the Spaghetti Carbonara I had read about in the NY Mag review, and he confirmed I should stick with it. No app, as I was saving room for dessert.
The Carbonara was interesting, lots of pancetta with a whole poached egg on top that you break tableside, mixing the runny yolk into the pasta. The pasta is al dente, but for my taste, there was almost too much pancetta and not enough pasta. It was delicious, but does not topple Lupas Carbonara off its pedestal.
Jeff came back to discuss dessert and although he recommended something chocolate, I am not a chocolate dessert fan, so he suggested the lemon tart. A large slice of a creamy lemon curd on shortbread with some macerated strawberries on the side. Simple. Refreshing. Nothing fancy.
The whole meal, with tax and tip (although I did not feel like tipping the bartender who did little) came to $40, and I gave the manager $5 as I felt like he really provided the service aspect of the meal.
The rest of the menu is interesting and well-priced. Id like to try the place again seated in the dining room, which is lovely dimly lit, candles, exposed brick, banquettes, and a little room off to the side that would be good for a large group (12-15?) in a semi-private setting. (and fwiw, as restaurants restrooms go, these are quite nice )