When people asked what I was doing this weekend, I said, “I’m watching the Crosby crew come back together.” Why? Because they’re nothing short of magic.
It’s now 11:30 am on a Saturday and I’m watching the line build up in front of what used to be Jinny’s Pizzeria at 4th Street Market. The original Crosby staff has taken over the humble booth for the day. Ralph Montes rings people up at the front. Alex Hernandez and Nick Nguyen seamlessly sling plates behind him. Aron Habiger tosses the coveted Shrimp Creole Pasta in the back and Ashley Guzman deftly puts together her famed Divorced Cookies as the orders come in.
The crazy thing is, no one is missing a beat. It’s been years since they’ve worked this menu together, totaling eight of the Crosby’s “top hits”: Sweet Potato Fries, Vegan Chili, Chili Fries, Starving Artist Grilled Cheese with Tomato Shooter, Jerk Carnitas Torta, Shrimp Creole Pasta, Classic Pepperoni Flatbread, and Divorced Chocolate Chip Cookies. It’s a tall order for Aron Habiger, who was the Crosby’s head chef, to rally the old team and not only ask them to take on this ambitious menu, but to do it justice.
Yet, everyone moves with the kind of fluidity, camaraderie and natural grace most kitchens can only dream of. The dishes are just as fantastic, too. The pasta creamy, effortless. The grilled cheese crispy, decadent. The cookies tasting like a ganache campfire. Like I said, it’s magic.
As the orders exit the kitchen, you can hear people share stories as they eat. The tales of late nights, good friends, good food, and good times. They are reminiscing and the nostalgia filling the air brings me back, too. As Habiger puts it, “There are stories involved with every one of these dishes.” It is the reason the Crosby’s legacy runs so deep.
It is this legacy that is intertwined with the tragic passing of Kim Pham. And while the Crosby closed its doors in January 2014, today is a reminder of the character, heart and people that made it great.
Charisma can usually be found eating cake with a cup of hot coffee for breakfast or walking around the OC with Toto, her awesome corgi-chihuahua.