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Crave Restaurant & Bar review

Braised beef short ribs at Crave Restaurant and

Braised beef short ribs at Crave Restaurant and Bar in Port Washington. (May 17, 2013) Credit: Yana Paskova

Sometimes, it seems as if a new restaurant pulls in near the Port Washington railroad station with each train. Crave is the newest.

Crave Restaurant & Bar follows Haven Grill, Cafe Capriccio and Montebello, which had the longest run.

More than any of its immediate predecessors, Crave probably suits the site. It's attuned to commuters coming and going, as well as couples and families looking for an easygoing night out.

The overhaul in decor hasn't been too dramatic. Actually, for a spot called Crave, it's pretty restrained. The big bursts of color come from the TV tuned to sports and the spirits poured bar side. A few framed images suggest the more stylish Cafe Capriccio era.

A few dishes bring in the old Italian-continental flair, too. Pappardelle Bolognese is very good: wide ribbons of pasta in a well-seasoned sauce that includes crumbled sweet sausage and meat from braised shortribs, finished with ricotta.

You can continue the Italianate tour with a variation on pasta alla carbonara, made with linguine, adding peas and, doubtless for practical purposes, either chicken or shrimp.

Crave sends out a good Caesar salad, a generous Cobb with chicken and sliced steak, a tasty Gorgonzola number and an ample something-for-everybody chopped salad, with candied walnuts, golden raisins, roasted peppers, sweet corn and fresh mozzarella.

That broad approach informs almost each course at Crave. You may start with hamburger sliders, but they're on the dry side; a hummus sampler with pita chips that isn't; or a duo of respectable crabcakes. Calamari makes its obligatory appearance in triplicate: grilled, fried or sesame-glazed.

Try one of the brick-oven pizzas. They're good as shared appetizers. The bianca, with caramelized onions, broccoli rabe and basil, stands out, along with the pie capped with fried eggplant, ricotta, mozzarella and tomato-basil sauce.

The house-made chicken potpie suits Crave -- homey, hefty and fairly priced. The sirloin meatloaf, however, is pretty thin, in slice and flavor, chunky mashed potatoes alongside. You're better off with the strip steak topped with crisp onions or the braised short ribs with garlic-mashed potatoes.

Herbaceous, grilled pork chops are tender and tasty, served with caramelized apples and sweet potato-and-bacon hash. Roasted chicken also is recommended, with a red-wine sauce and mashed potatoes. Chicken Parmigiana, husky and bountiful, comes with red-sauced pasta. Seaside, the prime catch is broiled, almond-crusted sole.

And if the do-it-yourself S'mores are too leisurely, the brownie sundae arrives with just enough time for you to make the train to Penn.

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