Frank Crispo was born and raised in the northeastern outskirts of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He started working at the young age of 12, washing pots and pans in a local Italian restaurant and helping his father, Frank Sr., on plumbing jobs.
From working his way through all the stations at the neighborhood restaurant to working with his father in his plumbing business, young Frank accumulated a wealth of food, plumbing and mechanical knowledge.
Frank was then ready to attend the Culinary Institute of America. From that point, his focus was clear: work hard, learn your craft, and open your own restaurant.
After graduating from the C.I.A. in 1980, Frank moved to New York City. Frank worked for Jean Jaques Rachou for three years at la Cote Basque, then, the Polo Restaurant at the Westbury Hotel with Roger Verge and Daniel Boulud, then at Tavern on the Green to Dilullo Centro in Philadelphia to Andiamo’s in New York City in 1987.
In 1990 he opened Chef Cuisiniers Club with partners Charles Palmer and Rick Moonen from this point on Frank consulted, cooked, and constructed many restaurants in and around New York City. Frank soon became a sort of underground chef with a butcher knife in one hand and a monkey wrench on the other.
Now, after many years of building and preparing meals for others, he’s using his knowledge to own and operate what most customers consider one of New York City’s best kept secrets: Crispo Restaurant.
Crispo Restaurant Design
Crispo Restaurant design elements were inspired by architecture present at the turn of the 19th Century. From the spectacular entry way with black steel, glass inlaid awning, the flat iron glass doors, enclosed patio with an old oak leaf wrought iron fence you are taken back in time.
From the marble topped bar and wrought iron wine rack that bridges across its surface, to the restored brass and copper subway lamps that house filament light bulbs, create an unique aesthetic quite reminiscent of Old New York.
The Empire Room is fitted with mahogany panels and gold leaf plaster impressions recovered from Steve Brody’s Saloon, circa 1885, and a illuminated antique stained-glass ceiling panel. (Steve Brody, a saloon keeper in 1885, was one of four people to jump from the Brooklyn Bridge on a dare and survive. From this, we get the New York saying: "Don’t pull a Brody!" was born).
The men and ladies rooms encompass a special attention to detail with antique blue marbled doorway moldings, porcelain handled wash sinks (restored from the old downtown athletic club), and finished off with subways lamps and flat iron doorways with smoked glass portholes. Our restrooms are identified by the nomenclature for nut and bolt for women and men, respectively. Or simply by the common initials of "W" and "M" in the porthole windows.
Walking along the 5 1/4 inch thick, over one hundred year-old brownstone pinewood sub-flooring, one will reach the salami station, which is fitted with three antique hand-cranked Berkel slicers, and crowned with a rack of hanging sopressata and prosciutto San Daniele.
When passing along the full brigade kitchen, adequately designed for the restaurant’s "cooked-to-order" food menu, you enter into the Chef’s Room, which also serves as a passage way to the restaurant’s best keep secret: The Garden.
The Garden evokes the feeling of a small corridor in Italy, flanked by a blue slate water fountain that reaches twelve feet tall and the classically designed old horse stable. The horse stable, or "Carriage House" as it is commonly referred to, has six huge iron-framed, wooden doors with glass openings, a wood burning fireplace, a potbelly stove and four beautiful hand-forged chandeliers from the ceiling overhead. The entire seating area houses Frank Crispo’s collection of antique Berkel slicers, cast iron toys and meat hooks, which are all brought together by the steel beams that arch over the garden, touching the open air when the weather permits.