Crisp is a family-owned American-Italian eatery that is the product of three generations of restaurateurs.
David Dobbins II, his cousins Al and Angelo Scavelli and family friend Olsi Lito, grew up working in restaurants their grandmother and uncle owned before opening the original Crisp location in The Heights in 2013.The business opened its second location in The Woodlands in April 2015.
Now with two locations, the restaurant has become highly regarded for its pizzas as well as its wide selection of beverages with more than 14 beers on tap and more than 100 different wine labels, Dobbins said.
“The original Crisp was kind of a marriage between the two concepts on a wine bar and a beer bar,” he said. “We kind of wanted a place where, whether you were a beer connoisseur or a wine connoisseur, you could get what you wanted. And then we wanted to pair those two experiences with chef-driven, high-quality food—American fare with an Italian twist.”
The Woodlands location offers a 5,000-square-foot patio, an event room that can host up to 65 people and a large bar top. Crisp also offers a wine-tasting tour with its self-serve wine-dispensing machine that allows patrons to taste any of the eight selections in the machine. They can only be purchased otherwise by the bottle.
“The idea is to let people taste a bottle before they commit to it or to give them a low-cost way to explore a bunch of different wines that they wouldn’t normally look at because they have to buy the whole bottle to try it,” Dobbins said. “This allows them to pour just one taste.”
In addition to lunch and dinner, Crisp also serves brunch Friday-Sunday and launched a new Sunday all-you-can-eat brunch buffet May 29. Sunday brunch features live music and allows guests to indulge in an omelet station, waffle station, hot food line, breakfast pastries, fresh fruit and a bloody mary bar.
Crisp also hosts beer and wine dinners semiregularly during which guests can enjoy a four-course meal with each course paired with a different beer or wine for $65 per person. During these sessions, the chef and a representative from the evening’s featured winery or brewery discuss their products with the guests.
The eatery also offers different happy hour deals on both food and drinks from 3-7 p.m. Monday-Friday.
“There’s almost always an owner in the building, so we definitely take pride in our restaurant and make personal connections with our guests,” Dobbins said. “We do it because we love it. We’re not just looking to make money, so I think that’s what makes us unique.”
Ask A Chef: Brian Stanek, Crisp Executive Chef
Q: Why did you start cooking?
A: At first, it started out as just a job, and then I started getting good at it and took a liking to it. So I went to culinary school and decided I wanted to run a kitchen.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: I went to school at Texas Culinary Academy in Austin, and I graduated in 2008.
Q: How long have you worked at Crisp?
A: I started with the company Feb. 2 of last year. I was the sous chef down at The Heights store for about 10 months or so and then was transferred up here. I was promoted to executive chef here in mid-January, so I’m still pretty new.
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration?
A: A lot of it actually is what I grew up eating and things that I’ve learned along my 11-12 year ride in the kitchen.
Q: What is your favorite thing to cook?
A: Something I haven’t done before. I like to learn new stuff—if you’re not learning, what’s the point? If I can go look at something and see what ingredients are in it and try and make it my own, especially if it’s something I haven’t made before, it’s fun.
- San Fran’s North Beach: Crisp’s signature pizza is topped with pepperoni, Rosemary ham, fennel seed sausage, Sicilian olive, chili flake, little tomatoes and Castos red sauce ($18).
- Grilled beef tenderloin: The dish is served with macaroni and cheese, grilled asparagus, Gorgonzola cheese and butter braised mushrooms ($26).
- Melting beef short ribs: The dish is served with soft polenta, wilted spinach, braised mushrooms, pickled parsley and red wine braising liquids ($24).
2520 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m.-midnight., Sat. 9 a.m.-midnight, Sun. 9 a.m.-10 p.m.