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Babbo


gmi3804
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I second that. The pasta tasting we just did (and likely what you'll have) had no offal in it. Some beef shoulder, some lamb in the bolognese, some mushrooms, some ravioli with asparagus and scallions, and then one with peas and parm (though it was a squid ink pasta, if that would freak him out). I think the pasta tasting menu is exceptional and currently not very scary.

If anyone wants to read about our meal in detail, you can do so here:

http://foodmusings.typepad.com/food_musing...5/04/babbo.html

I'd post it on eGullet but it's really long and it's more than a write up of food, so...hope that's ok.

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If anyone wants to read about our meal in detail, you can do so here:

http://foodmusings.typepad.com/food_musing...5/04/babbo.html

Sunday April 24 was my first time to Babbo for the previously mentioned step-father's birthday dinner, and it was exceptional. We had the exact same meal as quoted on Catherine's blog, except we swapped out the Pyramids for the Beef Cheek ravioli, just to try them. So, the pasta tasting on the webite is not quite up to date. Also, on the suggestion of previous posters, we tried a bottle of the Rosso Conero 'Adeodato', which was a little too fruity for me, and a nice $52 dollar bottle of Montepulciano, suggested by the sommelier, which I liked better (I like my wine drier). They didn't keep the bottle on our table, so I wasn't able to study the label, but it was lovely.

As I mentioned before, the step-dad a) doesn't drink (more wine for us) or b) have very adventurous taste. I found out during the course of the meal that he doesn't like mushrooms... so the funghi wasn't his favorite and I got to chuckle to myself as he scraped the truffle off of his Beef Cheek ravioli, before I spooned them up and distributed them to my mom, girlfriend, and myself. Sometimes, the limitations of others can be an asset to you! He loved the lamb bolognese and most of the other dishes, so he was really pleased overall and was glad to feel (if not actually be) adventurous. Good natured dinner partners always make the difference, don't they?

The service was top notch, and they even brought out 4 different desserts (the pisatchio chocolate semifreddo, the pineapple crostini, the saffron panna cotta, and the apple cake-- all were very good) with a chocolate HAPPY BIRTHDAY on my step-dad's apple cake (I had only mentioned it was his birthday a few minutes prior). This touch, and the completely unpretentious wine selection (I had asked for a bottle of a nice dry red in the $50 range and was presented with a bottle quickly and with kindness -- a feeling that the sommelier was excited to be turning me on to a new wine) really were kind and added to the goodwill of the experience. The pasta was everything everyone said it would be and more... Light, textured, full of its own flavor while balancing with its various condiments. Six dishes and I wasn't overly stuffed, and I found myself taking far more time than usual to savor each bite. sadly, I tend to eat fast, but nothing like quality and unique flavor to slow you down, which only increases one's ability to concentrate on the flavors. It made me feel like slowing down more often and truly savoring life.

There was a nice young couple next to us taking photos of their plates and receiving the full attention of the captain, who was taking good care of them. If either of you ladies are on eGullet, I would love to see your photos and hear about the seafood pasta you shared and the pork (?) dish... that stuff looked great.

This was a great restaurant and a truly delicious, unpretentious meal. I would certainly return and recommend it to anyone.

PS_ they played Squeeze and Coldplay during our meal. I'm not a fan of the hippie rock (The Dead? ew!) but I love Squeeze and Coldplay is dinner music anyway. It was so fun to hear Squeeze at such a nice place, we took a cab to Sing Sing and did a little karaoke with our nightcap... fun.

Edited by twhalliii (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

Went last night with a 10 PM reservation in the upstairs room. The music didn't bother my dining partner and me (in fact my girlfriend rather enjoyed the vibe). We had the pasta tasting but substituted in Beef Cheek Ravioli instead of the Pyramids. As everyone has said, this was an incredibly enjoyable experience. The pace of the meal was good, service was accomodating but not cloying. Don't want to waste too much space here but we had a great time and love this restaurant.

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Went to Babbo for the first time last night and ordered the pasta tasting menu. I agree with all who say Babbo offers an excellent value for your fine dining $$$$. Followed recent advice and substituted the beef cheek ravioli for the pyramids. The dinner was wonderful, but I must admit my husband and I got a little pasta-ed out and started coveting other tables entrees. Overall, I don't think I would actually recommend the pasta tasting menu approach. We would have preferred to order a couple antipasti, a couple pastas, and a meat entree to share. Still, I must say it was an outstanding meal, every dish was very enjoyable. Our favorite was the black tagliatelle with peas with the garganelli with funghi trifolati a close second.

Jennie Auster aka "GIT"

Gastronome in Training

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Went to Babbo for the first time last night and ordered the pasta tasting menu.  I agree with all who say Babbo offers an excellent value for your fine dining $$$$.  Followed recent advice and substituted the beef cheek ravioli for the pyramids.  The dinner was wonderful, but I must admit my husband and I got a little pasta-ed out and started coveting other tables entrees.  Overall, I don't think I would actually recommend the pasta tasting menu approach.  We would have preferred to order a couple antipasti, a couple pastas, and a meat entree to share.  Still, I must say it was an outstanding meal, every dish was very enjoyable.  Our favorite was the black tagliatelle with peas with the garganelli with funghi trifolati a close second.

Psh, pasted out. Such a thing does not exist. Mario Batali's pasta was like a revelation for me. I just bought the Babbo cookbook, so now I'm going to try to recreate some his dishes.

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I know that single diners at Babbo generally eat at the bar, but I'd love some feedback about when to show up. If necessary, I'm willing to be there at opening and just eat super early-- does anyone have any experience with slightly later times, say 630-7? I'll be there on a weeknight, probably early in the week.

Also, is the atmosphere friendly to those eating alone, or is there a feeling of WE NEED YOUR SEAT! I mean, are they willing to do tasting menus and/or pairings for single diners?

Any info/tips would be appreciated!

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My recollection is that tasting menus are only available for 2 or more people, though it's been a few years since I've been there.

I don't remember a we need your seat atmosphere--the bar tenders were quite amiable and proved to be knowledgable about the food and drink.

My only complaint about eating at the bar is that Babbo is such a popular restaurant that one runs the risk of of being jostled by thirsty patrons getting drinks while waiting for their tables. Arriving early has the advantage of allowing one to get a seat that's out of the direct line of fire.

Hope that helps.

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My recollection is that tasting menus are only available for 2 or more people,

That's my understanding too. It's been a year since I went there alone, but that's how it was last May. You might consider just giving them a call and see. You never know.

That was my experience also.

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I just wanted to share my excitement, I just made reservations for Babbo next month. I have never been even though this is not our first trip to New York! (It is the first trip with the couple we are going with) Any suggestions as far as food would be great, other then sweetbreads, beef cheek ravioli, lamb tongue). Thank you!

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I just wanted to share my excitement, I just made reservations for Babbo next month.  I have never been even though this is not our first trip to New York! (It is the first trip with the couple we are going with)  Any suggestions as far as food would be great, other then sweetbreads, beef cheek ravioli, lamb tongue).  Thank you!

The grilled octopus is wonderful. I like the black spaghetti with rock shrimp and chorizo - it's on the hot side, the lobster spaghettini, in addition to the beef cheek ravioli and lamb's tongue salad. My favorite desserts are the chocolate cake with hazelnut gelato and the blueberry crostata with coconut gelato.

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Went to Babbo last week. The octopus was excellent, some of the best I've had. Then I had the rabbit, which was great too. We had house wine, I think it was called Gava, which was fine. Best restaurant I've been to in a long time. Can't believe I'd never been.

On another note, had a great lunch, as usual, at Mary's Fish Camp. Grilled snapper, totally awesome. Good food day, obviously.

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I went to Babbo about a week and a half ago for the first time and it was great. My mom and I were on a long weekend trip to NYC and I got us reservations. It was not at all too noisy for either of us and the service was top notch. I was a little worried my mom (she is from a small washington state town) would be sticker shocked on the prices but everything we had so so great and the atmosphere and service all made this such a great experience that she thought it was worth every penny.

I started with a martini and mom had an italian lemon drop.

We shared the beet salad with ricotta salata and it was the best beet salad I have ever had! Divine!

We then shared the proscuitto with rhubarb "marmelade" - The pieces of rhubarb that were on the proscuitto were still whole slices but had the flavor of marmelade. Like if you mashed them up you could spread it on toast. I am sure I have it a little wrong but it was amazing.

Mom had the guinea hen and I had the duck - what can I say? They were both divine.

Wine - Fatila 1999 Oltrepo Pavesa - Red. I asked for advice from the sommelier and he suggested this bottle. We both liked it and it was good with our food.

All in all the best experience in a long time at a restaurant. I wish I was going back today!

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My wife and I ate at Babbo this past Saturday night, a meal that I had been looking forward to for months (we live in Chicago and don't make it to NYC very often). In a nutshell, the restaurant exceeded all of our expectations.

We had the pasta tasting menu, and (as others here have done) swapped out the beef cheek ravioli for the pyramids. The food was universally excellent, as was the service. I was particularly impressed that they switched up the wine pairings due to our substitution--not only did we get a different pairing with the ravioli than we would have had with the pyramids, but they changed the wine pairing on the previous course, fearing the wine originally planned would be too similar to the next pour. The wine pairings were a great value and quite generous (maybe too generous for my wife :wink: ), with each pour being 3+ oz.--meaning each of us had almost a bottle of wine.

Overall, I don't think I've ever had such serious, good food served in such a relaxed, vibrant atmosphere...

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Hmmm... I may be one of the few dissenters here. My wife and I ate at Babbo for the first time about a week and a half ago. While I can hardly claim to have had a bad meal, I would surely say that, of our three dinners that extended weekend, Babbo was the lowlight and did not live up to either of our expectations.

A couple of the dishes were excellent. The grilled octopus appetizer was amazingly tender and the zip of spice and vinegar in its sauce brought the dish alive. The decadently rich beef cheek ravioli, with squab liver and black truffles, was also exceptional. The pig foot milanese, on a less stellar note, was good when the pigfoot could be detected but, in too many spots, was pounded too thinly and overbreaded/overfried. The duck entree was good but not stellar; it was very flavorful but the breast meat was just a tad overcooked and the confit a bit mushy. The guinea hen was less of a success, surprisingly gamy for what is typically a richly yet relatively mildly flavored bird.

Our wines, both recommended by the sommelier, were both disappointments. The verdicchio being served in quartino was a bit stale; the Barbaresco "Rio Sordo," Brovia 1997 was dull, lacking in complexity, aroma and fruit.... Bummer.

On the upside, service, though a bit slow in getting started, turned out to be extremely friendly, well-paced and attentive. In terms of ambience, my only complaint would be the mainstream pop/rock soundtrack. I could have done without Dave Matthews and U2 during dinner.

I would certainly return for another exploration but I think next time I'll follow the lead of many of my co-posters and go with the pasta tasting menu.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just got back from my first meal at Babbo-- while it's hard for me to separate the food from a wonderful evening in general, I would say it was one of the most enjoyable eating experiences I've ever had. I showed up (alone) at about 445 and join the short queue; upon getting seated at the bar, I ordered a gin and tonic and settled in. The bartender (I'm TERRIBLE with names, but his involved initials-- LD, or LB, or LQ or something) was wonderful-- young and laid back and incredibly friendly, and I ended up eating with some very cool people as well, all of which contributed a lot to the experience being such a positive one. Anyway, what I ate: octopus (surpassed the grilled octopus I had in Porto last summer as the best I've ever had-- the sweetness of it was shocking and addictive), asparagus with duck egg, which was quite good (and I don't like eggs), and grilled branzino (wonderfully simple and light, especially after the intensity of the octopus). For dessert on the recommendation of the bartender I had something involving rhubarb which was also solidly good. I know nothing at all about wine, but I had a rose that went very well with the octopus.

Overall, as I said, a top-notch experience. I can't wait to take other people there.

Edited by sakana (log)
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  • 4 weeks later...

I am so excited that I am going to Babbo tomorrow night for the first time. I have been to so many wonderful restaurants but never had the opportunity to get a table at Babbo. What should we eat?

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We had a most wonderful dinner last night. We were with friends that we hadn't seen in a while and we did not feel rushed at all. We wound up being there over three hours and the service and food were the best. We all ate different things so we could taste and my favorite was the whole branzino that came with braised fennel and a lemon tarragon sauce.

I cannot wait to go back!

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Dined at Babbo twice in the past month in groups of 2 and 5 at 10:45pm and 9:30pm respectively, both on Friday evenings. My two prior experiences to these had been wonferful: the pasta tasting menu on my first visit over a year ago was nothing short of spectacular. These most recent visits, however, were not thrilling.

It was quite disheartening to have two lackluster dinners in the course of a short few weeks.

It all started when my companion received his grilled octopus. This was not the first time we had tasted this dish--in previous incarnations it had been incredibly tender and flavorful. This time around it was tough. The rest of the meal was riddled with inconsistencies: the lamb's brain "francobolli" were bland, the rabbit was cooked very well but overpowered by lavender honey, the lamb's tongue were a bit greasy and not as good as I remembered from a previous visit.

My most recent outing was probably worse. I was so excited to order the pasta tasting menu once again, hardly able to contain myself thinking back on my first experience at Babbo. The real problem this night was getting the food from the kitchen to our table: when our second pasta course arrived, mine was the only plate that had some ravioli swimming in a sea of butter, and I'm not exaggerating. One dish claimed to include a scoop of gelato, but instead arrived as a brown puddle leaking onto the miniature ricotta cheesecake. My tasting of garganelli with funghi trifolati, one of my favorite go-to dishes at Babbo, arrived with 2 lonely pieces of mushroom while some of my luckier companions received what appeared to be an extra helping. I resorted to cutting up the pair into smaller pieces, hoping to spread the flavor a bit, but was only mildly successful. By this point my spirit was all but broken.

On a good note, the wine pairings were better this time around.

I'm not sure what to think about all of this. Should I be worried? Will I ever have a great meal here again? I'd hate to think that I won't.

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Probably just bad luck. It will be interesting to see if these reports become more common. Would be a shame if that were the case.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Had a great meal last week at Babbo. business as usual as far as the food and service went. All the pastas were fantastic and the pork chop was out of this world drizzled with aged real aceto balsamico. The grilled octopus was as tender as I remembered it. The goat cheese tortellini was perfecto!

Buonissimo!

"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them." ~Winston Churchill

Morels- God's gift to the unworthy human species

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The real problem this night was getting the food from the kitchen to our table:  One dish claimed to include a scoop of gelato, but instead arrived as a brown puddle leaking onto the miniature ricotta cheesecake. 

I'm not sure what to think about all of this.  Should I be worried?  Will I ever have a great meal here again?  I'd hate to think that I won't.

Peter, I'm sorry to hear that you were disappointed with your pre-dessert. I am the pastry cook who plated this for you that evening. You actually had a warm chocolate and goat cheese fritter with a tiny quenelle of chocolate sorbetto and fresh cherries, and I am sorry to hear that it had melted by the time it reached your table and that you were disappointed with your meal.

-Melissa

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