It’s a well-known fact that Times Square is a vegan dead zone. Sure, there’s a Blossom Du Jour and you can get a vegan Bareburger or vegan Two Boots slices, but as far as serious vegan eats go, well, you’re crap outta luck.
That’s not to say you need to starve completely. No, just lower your standards a little. If you want a true sit-down vegan place, you’ll need to venture either further uptown or downtown. But, if you’re willing to settle for vegan eats in a non-vegan establishment, you’re good to go.
I felt like Italian this particular night, and the only thing that was really open at 10:00 on a Monday evening (trust me, whoever said NY is the “city that never sleeps” is an outright LIAR) that didn’t serve grossly reheated, reconstituted fare was this little place with the ostentatiously Italian name.
Atmosphere-wise, CRI is acceptable for a cozy, informal dinner date without much pretension. I liked that there was a random old Singer sewing machine just chilling on the radiator, not odd at all.
The garlic bread can be veganized: basically, it’s just chopped garlic with olive oil on Italian bread. The garlic they used was RIPE… I mean, I can still taste it in my mouth NOW, and it’s been at least 20 hours already. I love me some strong garlic bread, but my new coworkers probably didn’t. Oh well.
This pasta dish is one of three that can be prepared vegan: the other two are the Spaghetti Pomodoro and Penne Arrabiata.
As far as vegan pastas in a non-vegan restaurant go for this establishment, I’d rank this dish to be slightly above average. The vegetables, although certainly not my favorite assortment (there was zucchini, yuck), were thoroughly cooked in a way that really melded with the flavor of the sauce, making them a seamless part of the flavor profile.
I barely noticed any taste of real zucchini because of this, yay!
My favorite part of the dish, though, was the pasta itself. I don’t know whether it was homemade or not, but just the mere fact that I was wondering such a thing can be considered a testament to how much I enjoyed the pasta’s consistency. The pasta had a buttery-soft texture and a pleasant shape: I tend to like eating curly food items, don’t ask why. The portion size was also to my liking: not too much, not too little.
Overall, if you’re hankering for a sit-down place after seeing a Broadway show, CRI is an acceptable choice. Just don’t fall down the iron-wrought spiral staircase down to the bathroom — they’re dangerously steep, yo!