Coming after “I’m not your bitch, bitch” fame on Bravo’s Top Chef, chef-consultant Dave Martin’s new “think bistro, dine casual” restaurant, Crave on 42nd, lacks some heft. But not his fabulous black-truffle-brandy-touched mac ’n’ cheese, blistering hot from the microwave. The sprawling storefront has a shoestring-budget feel, with painted squares as art, but did they have to pinch pennies on the light? It’s annoying to eat in the dark. I’m not sure sea scallops with vanilla-bean cream or a tenderloin “martini” drizzled with Asian ginger pan sauce will fly this close to New Jersey. Or even with me. But tonight we crave comfort, and we’re soothed with a decent anchovied Caesar, a good-enough burger for $9, and delicious thin-crust “fiery meat-house” pizza. Lamb shank, touted as the night’s special on the blackboard, is sold out. We struggle to find entrées that don’t threaten to be sweet. Penne with artichoke and pine nuts in a pleasant tomato sauce and a $20 hanger steak fill the bill and hit the budget nicely. Some restaurants are good for the neighborhood. Let’s just say Crave is good for the building—River Place, which looms overhead at a far remove from the 42nd Street hustle. A fast-rising sib of the tower on Eleventh Avenue will fill a gap. And theater row on Ninth Avenue is close enough to make revisiting that macaroni worth it.
Crave on 42nd
650 W. 42nd St., nr. Twelfth Ave.; 212-564-9588