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Coming to NYC from SF. Can't get a res at Babbo. Suggestions?

Waitied too long to make a reservation and Babbo is booked Labor day weekend. Any suggestions for places to eat? Rustic italian is a favorite of mine, but anything creative is welcome. Price doesn't really matter, but I do like more casual and laid back as opposed to stuffy. Thanks.

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  1. Babbo has several tables in the front that are open for walk-ins, so you might just want to wait at the bar.

    Some other Italian places to consider are: Peasant in Nolita, Aroma in the East Village, Crispo on 14th street, Lupa in Village (also Batali), Po in Village.

    1. You want rustic Italian? Peasant is great.

      Sfoglia in the Upper West Side is another very good rustic Italian.

      As good as Babbo already is, Lupa, pound-for-pound, is better imho. It's a terrific Roman trattoria.

      1. I third Lupa - it's great food for great value.

        I also recommend Il Buco in Noho on Bond St and Ama in Soho on Macdougal

        1 Reply
        1. re: livetotravel

          Fourth lupa and do not overlook Po.

        2. Agreed. You must try Babbo or Lupa. You can do walk in at Babbo early (5:30pm) or late (9:30-ish). Going on a weeknight also boosts your chances. The pastas are rustic and the portions generous. Sitting at the bar is also great because both Babbo and Lupa bartenders whip up mean drinks. Do a search on Babbo and you'll find countless recs.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Porthos

            i'm not against waiting....how long will you wait at babbo if you walk in at 8:00 on a friday/saturday night? as long as they have a bar, i'm cool. on the other hand i do like eating at bars.....can you eat at the bar?

            1. re: Big Larry

              I don't think you'll get close to the bar at 8.00 on a Friday or Saturday, Larry..

              - Sean

              1. re: Big Larry

                Yeah, you should go ahead and take the 10:30pm reservation (if it's still available), plan on a late lunch, or skip lunch and eat early. Friday/Saturday is impossible at 8pm. If you thought A16 was bad, Babbo and even Lupa walk in at 8pm will be pretty absurd (think minimum 2 hours). Again, the drinks do help pass the time. I would really try 5:30pm or 10pm if you're waiting for the bar/bar tables on those nights.

            2. How about Scalini Fedeli? They have a $65 prix fixe. My family ate there last night and can't stop talking about how good it is.

              1 Reply
              1. re: bodie

                Scalini Fedeli does not get enough attention. It's very good.

              2. I love Giorgio's of Gramercy and found it to be much better than Lupa, service and food wise. There's the jazz room downstairs at the Blue water grill that is nice and the food is really good. The fish and seafood are really fresh and tasty. A favorite french Bistro of mine is Lucien on 1st avenue near Houston. The food is to die for and you get the ambiance of a bistro.

                1. babbo, lupa, falai, the orchard, peasant

                  1. I love Lupa (wait—wasn't that a sitcom?), but the last couple of times I've been there it hasn't satisfied in quite the same way that it used to. Babbo, on the other hand, never fails. Go for the walk-in option: even if you wait, it's worth it.

                    1. I would discount Sfoglia from any of the above. It's not that it is bad, it's ok. But it's not in the Babbo or Lupa league. It's also got the snootiest staff this side of Mercer St.. and given that it's on 92nd and Lex, that's a loooong way.


                      - Sean

                        1. Del Posto is also very good, though a bit more formal than all the others.

                          1. Lupa reservations are hard to come by as well. Some other alternatives: Peasant, Apizz, Cacio e Pepe, Crispo.

                            1. I think Babbo is as overblown as Batali's physique. Lupa sounds more what you've described as seeking, it's friendly casual peasanty. Babbo has crystal, white tablecloths, and all too often pretentious and/or negligent service, and I found the portions to be meagre for the money.

                              Don't despair if you can't get into either Lupa or Babbo. Go to Al Di La in Brooklyn for food that matches either of these Batali places in a really wonderful homey setting and prices that are wallet friendly.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Grady

                                Al Di La is closed from Aug 27th through Sept 5th

                              2. The "walk in" method almost always works..sometimes with just a short wait at the bar.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: serious

                                  I agree with this. You can put your name on the list for dinner at the bar and you'll get a seat eventually. They save the seats for people who are eating at the bar, as opposed to those who are just drinking/waiting for table in the dining room. I love Babbo - and I love eating at the bar. The bartenders know all and are far from pretentious.

                                  Also, just went to Il Buco this weekend, first time in years. The atmosphere is warm, rustic and romantic. But the food did not blow me away and the service is really middling.

                                2. Try calling Babbo again a few days before you get here. I have had good luck calling on between Thursday evening and Saturday morning and getting a table from last-minute cancellations. The food is fantastic, even if the service becomes a little negligent as your dinner comes to an end. I prefer the pasta tasting menu to the traditional.

                                  1. I'll chime in and recommend Lupa as well--you can make same day lunch reservations with no problem. As for Babbo, if you're going to walk in, get there right when the restaurant opens.

                                    1. hmmmm on a more budget but still great food tip...supper on 2nd and avenue a. i just love it there... great wine list, not stuffy at all and very new york (the hood anyway)

                                      1. I'd rec. Beppe if you are looking for "Rustic Italian". I've never had a bad meal there. And we had an amazing meal at Il Buco last month, with (believe it or not) great service.

                                        1. I agree with Lupa and Peasant as two great alternates, but surprised that no one has mentioned A Voce. Perhaps a touch more expensive, but worth it. In my opinion, head and shoulders above the others (including Babbo)