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Babbo (First 6 Years)


macrosan
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Soba: I too figured that that bit of information was yours to reveal.

What I should have said, though, was that it was your counsel about the deficencies of the of the secondi that swayed me to agree to the pasta tasting. I didn't want to be disappointed when losing my Babbo virginity, like ... oh, never mind :wink:

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I am sure that if someone were a regular, or indicated they were going to spend lots of money, or buy particularly interesting/expensive wines, or some other "signals" that a savvy server would relay back to the kitchen, Mario would cook for them. It's an inherent part of how a restaurant attracts and retains good customers.

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I am sure that if someone were a regular, or indicated they were going to spend lots of money, or buy particularly interesting/expensive wines, or some other "signals" that a savvy server would relay back to the kitchen, Mario would cook for them.  It's an inherent part of how a restaurant attracts and retains good customers.

Actually, Mario was not even present during the time of our dinner.

Susan (our main server) explained that he usually shows up at Babbo late in the evening, and seems to be concentrating most of his energies at opening Otto (his new place in Clementine's former space). In fact, Joe Bastianich was present -- not that we managed to get a hold of him, only that one of our servers mentioned it in passing.

SA

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Of course, but my point was that when we asked our question, it was with the understanding that in a hypothetical situation, if a regular/big spender/person who ordered expensive wines had dinner at Babbo, would it be possible for the chef to personally attend to that person's experience and elevate his or her experience to a higher level.

I was expecting the answer I received, not because of Steve's prior post, but because it fits my perception of Mario's style (which is, perhaps a slightly higher level of attention for such a patron, but not to the extent that he or she would be treated to a significantly different experience than your average patron). I think Mario's experience, record and reputation speaks for itself, and is the main reason behind Babbo's enduring popularity.

SA

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Does anybody remember that part in the New Yorker issue when it talked about some people who sent back dishes several times and when Mario realized they were buying expensive wines, he suddenly no longer had a problem accomodating them?

I remain convinced that given the right circumstances and the right signals from table to server, from server to kitchen, that special attention/cooking would happen.

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Susan (our main server) explained that he usually shows up at Babbo late in the evening, and seems to be concentrating most of his energies at opening Otto (his new place in Clementine's former space).  

Otto, so that's what it's going to be called. We walked by a couple of nights ago, and the workers--I surmised they were decorators and electricians--were working very late. I guess it's opening any day now.

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Does anybody remember that part in the New Yorker issue when it talked about some people who sent back dishes several times and when Mario realized they were buying expensive wines, he suddenly no longer had a problem accomodating them?

I remain convinced that given the right circumstances and the right signals from table to server, from server to kitchen, that special attention/cooking would happen.

There are a couple of separate points here. Batali would have been economically foolish not to comply with the wishes of diners who were buying expensive wines. If they decided to up and go without paying (not that I'm condoning that) the restaurant would've lost a whole lot of money on unpaid wines. Also, if they are big spenders then you want them to become regulars.

Second, I understand the kitchen is tiny at Babbo. I realize many restaurant kitchens are, but I got the impression Babbo's is more so than most. Wouldn't that maybe go against the practice of cooking special dishes for diners?

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Does anybody remember that part in the New Yorker issue when it talked about some people who sent back dishes several times and when Mario realized they were buying expensive wines, he suddenly no longer had a problem accomodating them?

I remain convinced that given the right circumstances and the right signals from table to server, from server to kitchen, that special attention/cooking would happen.

There are a couple of separate points here. Batali would have been economically foolish not to comply with the wishes of diners who were buying expensive wines. If they decided to up and go without paying (not that I'm condoning that) the restaurant would've lost a whole lot of money on unpaid wines. Also, if they are big spenders then you want them to become regulars.

Second, I understand the kitchen is tiny at Babbo. I realize many restaurant kitchens are, but I got the impression Babbo's is more so than most. Wouldn't that maybe go against the practice of cooking special dishes for diners?

I think given circumstances that would benefit the restaurant (in the restaurant's view), they'd manage somehow to satisfy the customer's demands.

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On the subject of Otto, I hope it does well, simply because the restaurant is a) located in an area not specifically known for being a restaurant destination, and b) is in I believe a landmarked-status building, which would make placement of a banner, signage or awning somewhat difficult. (I may be wrong on this point.)

I think however, that people will come, due in no small part to the Mario connection.

SA

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  • 1 month later...

Hello all. Well i finally got a chance to go to babbo on sunday night. It was a late reservation 10:30 to be exact so but at least we got in. I was joined by veronica and my big brother carlos. We spent the day in the city and went to our friend joes apartment before the reservations for some cheese and wine. Good cheese, great wine, and great company what else can a man ask for. But alas it was time to go experience what everyone was talking about. We went with the pasta tasting since we all love pasta.

The first dish was Black Tagliatelle with Parsnips and Pancetta the wine served was Pinot Grigio “Plus,” Bastianich 2000. My impression of this dish was ok. The pasta was great but it my opinion the dish had to much broken butter in it. So it started to get very greasy to me especially at the end of the dish. I Thought the dish was good but not great. On the other hand veronica thought this could have been the best dish we had. She felt it only became slightly greasy towards the end but it didn't look like her plate had as much butter on it as mine and my brothers. It seemed to me that hers wa probably plated first and my brothers and mine after. So we ended up getting the bottom of the pan. Again the dish was good but the broken butter made it greasy. The parsnips were very good and added a nice sweetness to the and it complimented the pancetta as well. I did enjoy the wine with this dish. The wine was very fat on the pallet but had a good amount of acidity to cut through the fat in the dish.

The second course was the Fennel and Potato Ravioli with Thai Basil and Brown Butter the wine was Toscana Sauvignon “Con Vento,” Castello del Terriccio 2001. I thought this dish was ok to good i couldn't make up my mind about it. I had mixed feelings about it. From a taste point of view i thought it tasted preety good. But from a technical point of view it was short. Veronica thought the potato was over cooked because the filling was very grainy. I can agree with that but im not sure if it was the overcooked potato or if it was the fennel in the filling that made it grainy. It was hard to tell. But What i was truly dissapointed in was the lack of fennel in the dish. This dish advertised itself as fennel and potato with thai basil. But the only anis flavor from the dish was from the tarragon that was thrown on top of the dish with the one leaf of thai basil. The other thing was the thai basil. I didn't think there was a real need for it especially when its one leaf. I guess one could argue that thai basil has an anis quality to it but then why throw all that tarragon on it. If you want to compliment the fennel then you should be able to taste the fennel first. The wine was preety good with the dish as well. Again it had a good amount of acidity in it an dwas much lighter then the first but it cut through the brown butter that was used as the sauce. This dish tasted preety good but i just felt it wasn't what it was advertised as.

The third dish was Garganelli with Funghi Trifolati and the wine served was Langhe Nebbiolo, Aurelio Settimo 1999. We all enjoyed this dish very much. The pasta was great and the mushrooms were very equally as good. It had a nice rich buttery sauce but wasn't overpowering. The wine was a bit earthy and complimented the mushrooms very well. Ive never had that shape of pasta and thought it was extremely interesting. It had a nice little pocket that held everything together. This dish could have been my favorite of the evening.

The next dish was Alejandro's Pyramids with Butter and Thyme and the wine served was

Teroldego Rotaliano, Foradori 2000. I also enjoyed this dish very much. The pyramids were stuffed with pulled short rib. The short rib was kind of sweet and hearty at the same time. The thyme went really well with this dish but i think thyme goes with everything. I dont remmeber to much about this wine for some reason. I assume it was good because i had nothing bad to say about it. My only question about this was the pasta dough. I think the dough was pot sticker dough. Thats what the waiter said at least or thast what he made it seem like. If it was then i think that would be kind of wierd to use but i couldn't tell so i guess it didn't make a difference.

The next dish was Pappardelle Bolognese and wine they served was an amarone but i dont remmeber the maker but the year was 1996. Let me start by saying i love pappardelle. So i was very happy to have this dish in front of me. The pasta was cooked perfectly and it was one of the best bolognese ive ever had. Everyone at the table really enjoyed this. The wine was great. I really like amarone because i find them very easy to drink. Since im a novice in wine its a little harder for me to drink heavy big red wines. So i apreciate the balance of the amarones.

The next thing we had was Apricot and Carrot "Marmellata" with Goat Milk Curd the wine served was Franciacorta Brut NV, Ca’del Bosco. This was a nice but veronica and i thought the marmellata was a little pithy. So it had a sourness to it. The goat curd was great. The wine realle refreshed the pallet. My brother didn't like this dish to much though. I thought it was preety good except for that little sourness at the end.

There was a couple of difefrent desserts given to us at the end of teh meal. That was our restaurant workers perk i guess. The saffron panacotta, a chocolate cheesecake i think, and a pineapple tart. All the desserts we very good. My only issue was the saffron panacotta. Now i love saffron but if used inproperly it can be a bit much. So to me i thought the saffron was a little to strong and lingered to long on the pallet. But veronica and carlos thought i was crazy. So to each there own i guess.

Side notes: We felt a little rushed for a couple of reasons. One we ha dto take the 1:37 train back to NJ. But because of our late reservattion and the want foir the kitchen staff to leave which i understand we were a little rushed by the staff. Again a 10:30 tasting menu so i can understand it. But at the same time thats part of the restaurant business. As in Most NY restaurants the coat check room sucks. Small space with shit piled up everywhere. It just feels uncomfortable standing there inches away from people eatign with a coat hanging over their heads. I felt kind of rude to the people at that table. One of the last complaints i had was the sommelier. The man was very nice and informative. But like i said it was late and my man left befor ewe were done. Our last wine was served by our waiter. If im sittign down gettign a wine tasting then your ass better be there when i get each wine. Thats your dam job. So that got under my skin a bit. I wouldn't let my staff do that. i mena if its a bottle soemones drinking then the waiter can fill the glass. But if i want to know about the wine im about to take in then the sommelier should be there.

All in all it was a preety good experience. not the best in my life but good. I think it would have been better if we had gotten earlier reservations but i blame myself for that. This way we could have had more time to relax and enjoy ourselves a little more. Our table was great. It was a corner table and we all had plenty of room. I didn't get to see the upstairs at all so i have no idea what that looks like. I would have liked a kicthen tour just to see what it looks like back there. Oh another thing that i thought was wierd. Alot of cooks kept coming out in the dining room. That doesn't usually happen. So i guess its kind of wierd to see a cook wander around the dinign room unless he is out there to talk to a table. But these guys just seemed liek they we goign to the bar for something or other. It didn't bother me or anything but i just thought it was wierd because im not used to seeing that.

i would go back again but im not sure if i would get the pasta tasting. I would want to try some different stuff. Maybe make up my own tasting of sorts. get a bunch of different apps and entrees. But thats what i thought of babbo. Thanks for listening! :biggrin:

Edited by chopjwu12 (log)
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David,

Thanks. That was one of the most honest and accurate assessments of dinner at Babbo that I have read.

Although I did have a better experience there than you report, I did not have the pasta tasting menu and I had an 8 pm seating on a Friday night. Interesting to note the difference when one has to dine there later.

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David, a good report. Thanks.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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David,

Thanks for the insightful report. I've read that other diners have noticed a preponderance of butter in Babbo pastas - did you notice it after the first dish that was too buttery? And how did you feel about ending with the papparedelle - my instinct would be to serve that earlier in the tasting, but I'd love to hear how it was for you.

Liza

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Thanks, David. My husband, G., and I had the pasta-tasting last Thursday and I’ve been meaning to write up. You’ve made my job much easier!

Like veronica, in David’s post, I thought the first course, black tagliatelle with parsnips and pancetta was the highlight. Yes, I was hungry, it was buttery, but the combination of flavors, the sweetness of the parsnips and meatiness of the tiny cubes of pancetta (tasted more like bacon to me) really worked. I agree the Pinot Grigio, Bastianich was a really great match. I finished this dish, but did have grave doubts, given the portion size, whether I’d be able to get through all the courses.

The fennel and potato ravioli I found disappointing and left most of it (to my husband’s pleasure). I wasn’t keen on the filling--I wondered if the potato had sweated. Agree also on the lack of fennel taste. Also, the brown butter had an unpleasant burnt taste, and I found the Sauvignon bland.

Garganelli (long thin cups) with mushrooms, again on the buttery side, was very nice, but, as G. said, we can make something like this easily at home.

The pyramids filled with short rib were very fine, but by this time, and with yet another pasta course coming, I was getting full, and I could only manage 2 of the 4.

Papardelle Bolognese was the least rich in many ways as the pasta was dry-ish and the sauce not that rich, fat-wise. I rather liked it. To G, the sauce was inferior to Hazan’s basic Bolognese recipe. The Rosso Conero, Sassi Neri 2000, was heavy and luscious.

Small scoops of goat milk curd with apricot and carrot marmalade, I found cloying and could’ve forgone. Pineapple tart with cream very good, and the saffron pana cotta was superb.

(Small point on the amuse chick-pea bruschetta: it's very good, but do they ever change it?)

Service excellent. Informed and attentive waitress.

Of the 3 visits to Babbo, this was, although good overall, the least enjoyable partly because of the sheer quantity of food; partly because a good few of the dishes just didn’t shine and partly because there’s a limit, I think, to how much pasta one can eat in one sitting.

A couple of related threads one started by Suzanne F and the other by mikec, both covering the pasta tasting menu.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...2&st=0&hl=babbo

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...bboconfirmation

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yvonne, the bruschetta is a riff on one of Mario's standard bruschettas. In a past incarnation, at Po, it was a WHITE BEAN bruschetta (and the recipe for that is in Mario's book, written while he was still at Po. -- can't remember the title, but others might. It's the one with MB's pic on the front and those funky orange shoes of his.)

SA

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I thought the order in which the dishes was a little funny. I thought the taglitelli in the first course was rather heavy for a first course. But i think the rest went in preety good order. It sounds to me from reading around that babbo might lack one think that makes a great restaurant great, CONSISTENCY. I understand under the preasure of doing like 200 covers its tough but you have to find a way. My bolognese was very good and not dry at all. I would have to eat there again and not the pasta tasting this time.

But i forgot the worst thing of the night. I dont know how i forgot to mention this but i did. This was liek a stab in the back or something. So we are all standing in murrys getting soem great cheese. I notice the couple behind has the zagat and they are looking at babbo. The they started talkign about the restaurant and wondering if they had any reservations open. I laughed to myself because i a person who called a week early could only get a 10:30. He gets on the phone and calls. They tell him that they probably have a table because they save sometables open for people who want to walk in. So basically these people who decide to call the day of get an earlier reservation then me who called a week ago. I was furious. I dont understand the philosophy behind that. Lets screw a COOK of all people especially a cook who is going to tell everyone on egullet this story and give an earlier reservation to a couple wondering around NY with a zagat. Man that chaffed my ass something awfull. Does that make sence to anyone?

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But i forgot the worst thing of the night. I dont know how i forgot to mention this but i did. This was liek a stab in the back or something. So we are all standing in murrys getting soem great cheese. I notice the couple behind has the zagat and they are looking at babbo. The they started talkign about the restaurant and wondering if they had any reservations open. I laughed to myself because i a person who called a week early could only get a 10:30. He gets on the phone and calls. They tell him that they probably have a table because they save sometables open for people who want to walk in. So basically these people who decide to call the day of get an earlier reservation then me who called a week ago. I was furious. I dont understand the philosophy behind that. Lets screw a COOK of all people especially a cook who is going to tell everyone on egullet this story and give an earlier reservation to a couple wondering around NY with a zagat. Man that chaffed my ass something awfull. Does that make sence to anyone?

David,

I would be pissed about that too. It's like when you are sitting next to someone on an airplane and they are bragging about how they just booked their ticket yesterday and are paying half the fare that you are! It's just unfair, but businesses seem to practice that type of procedure. :angry:

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