I tried to make reservations at Babbo but they are booked for the day I wish to go. What is the second best place in your opinion?
Second best what? Italian restaurant? Batali place? NY restaurant?
You could certainly do Lupa which is a less expensive italian place of his and very tasty. Or Del Posto.
For high end / Italian slant, you could do Cru.
Also, you could show up at Babbo and try to eat at the bar or get a walk in from a cancellation.
If you want a more serene and refined experience than Babbo, I suggest L'Impero.
If you want a more hip and "lively" experience than Babbo, I suggest A Voce.
If you want a Batali experience no matter what, you can swing on the up (more refined) side and go to Del Posto or swing on the downside (still refined, but more family style) and go to Lupa.
In agreement with dkstar1. Simply in terms of NYT reviews, A Voce, Felidia, L'Impero, Del Posto and Fiamma all are Italian three-stars (though Michael White, the Chef at Fiamma, has recently left and I'm sure I'm missing some in the three-star category. Cru never somehow struck me as overtly Italian despite the fact that they serve crudo ----really, really good crudo --- and one of the three best agnolotti dishes I've ever had. Hm. Maybe time to recast the place in my mind's eye.)
But equal ratings don't translate into equal experiences, as dkstar1 correctly observes. All good, but none are Babbo (nor should they be. That's Babbo's job).
I'd also throw Alto into the mix.
Lupa is almost as hard to get into. All the other restaurants mentioned are great choices, though I haven't heard anything good abt Felidia in a while.