If you have been around long enough to remember the original Craftbar, you’re probably not all that fond of Craftbar in its current form. The restaurant was originally opened in 2002 as a casual counterpoint to the upscale experience of Craft next door, and those who loved it would tell you it was a special little place that served simple, delicious food. A few years later, Colicchio and crew moved Craftbar around the corner to its current location, a much larger and, by all accounts, less magical space.
Luckily, we don’t have to deal with the inconvenience of nostalgia in this situation. We never went to the original Craftbar (my meals in 2002 still mostly consisted of frozen pizza and Bud Light), and previous to our visits in advance of writing this review, I think I had been here once over the last decade. As a result, we had no previous restaurant to compare this to, nor did we have any preconceived idea of what Craftbar should be. And that’s probably why we like it so much.
If you can manage to forget that this is a Tom Colicchio restaurant, regardless of whether that name means “guy from Top Chef” or “guy who started Gramercy Tavern” to you, you’ll find that Craftbar is simply an excellent, casual restaurant in an area that desperately needs more excellent casual restaurants. The menu ranges from light and vegetable focused to “we make our own sausage,” and we’ve found almost everything we’ve eaten to be interesting and highly delicious. It’s equally appropriate for a business lunch around Union Square as it is a post-work happy hour hang, and your parents will probably like it a lot too - assuming they weren’t regulars at the original Craftbar location.
Whipped Ricotta Toast
Everybody loves toast. There’s nothing not to love about this one with ricotta and charred fava beans.
Montauk Squid Salad
One of our favorite dishes here. The squid is perfectly cooked and served cold in its own ink, with pickled chiles and scallion. Order it. Even if you’re not usually crazy about squid.
Duck Hearts & Dumplings
You knowhow you’ve always dreamed of being a new, younger, Anthony Bourdain? Well,that’s definitely not gonna happen. A new Andrew Zimmern? That might be within reach. Start here with these duck hearts. They actually taste a lot like steak, but, as Bourdain would say, they squeak a little between your teeth. The other stuff in the skillet here helps break up the bites so you’re not just eating organs, which is nice. Give it a shot.
House Smoked Kielbasa
Ordering a giant sausage at a restaurant is not typically something we do, unless said restaurant is actually a beer garden or a place with “house of sausage” in the name. However, this kielbasa at Craftbar is an absolute must order. The whole thing is made in house, from butcher to grind to smoke, and it’s incredibly delicious.
Need a break from the duck hearts and sasuage?This agnolotti is a good, lighter option. Other things in the bowl with the pasta will vary depending on season.
Blueberry lavender ice cream, short bread cookies. A fancy ice cream sandwich for the fancy child inside you. This thing is so good.