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Babbo walk in Advice?

Thinking about Babbo maybe on thursday night coming up. No res (full for tables of 2) Any advice on the tables they hold for walk ins?

wife poured cold water on posting a "dining personal ad" to buddy up and snag a 4 seater. I thought it'd be fun, but i think she's afraid of being lobotomized and turned into a "sex zombie". I suppose it's a pretty common occurance so who can blame her.

Thanks, Chris

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  1. I cant answer that question, but you can walk right into Cafe Mono, Batali's "tapas" place with no ressy. The food is cooked to the same Batali "formula" and is similar in style. No pasta though, although you can watch the chefs in action at the counter that sits in the kitchen.

    1. It's called Casa Mono, and they do in fact take reservations and are usually full in the evenings.

      And the food is not cooked in any Batali formula - it has its own chef, and the food is Spanish tapas - nothing to do with Italian food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gutsofsteel

        I already said it was "Tapas" and noted there was no pasta. And I have eaten at both Babbo and Casa Mono, several times, and there _is_ a similar style to the dishes. Sorry, but there is a Batali "formula," having eaten at almost all of his places. My point was that you do not need to go to Babbo (which is overhyped to begin with) to get the "Batali" experience. There are other places where you don't have to beg for reservations and they are nearly as good - n'est pas?

        And I never said Casa Mono does not take reservations -- sure it does, but I have never needed a reservation and have had success walking in and sitting right down. Its easy to get into, maybe not on a Saturday night, but its no Babbo.

      2. Just be there right before opening and grab a pair of seats at the bar -- it's a great, very different experience sitting up there.

        1. yeah, i would say for Babbo, just go in and grab a seat at the bar. you can then either sit and eat right there at the bar itself and wait a bit for your table. either way, its well worth it. their food is across the board excellent, but the pasta's are really the draw there. terrific. and i am normally NOT a pasta eater at all. but when at babbo, i make an exception. let us know how it goes.

          1. what about going late after the rush? Or does the rush end when they lock the door?

            1. If you get there right when they open...like around 5:30 or 6, you might stand a chance of getting a table. Also, if you want to eat at one of Mario's other restaurants thats a little more casual I would recommend Otto. It is Pizza, Salad, and Pasta, but everything is excellent. You have a good chance of getting in there on the spur of the moment. They also have small Italian "tapas" that you can eat while you are wating for your table.

              1. I would suggest the use of earplugs. The last time I was there, (drinks only, it is way too loud and obnoxious to eat in) I could only hear snippets of what the girl I was with said. We were so glad when we got back outside, away from the din. The bar has a fun vibe when it's early enough that it hasn't filled up. Once the place is in full swing, the noise is deafening. I would not eat there on a bet. I have bailed from friends who, after drinks elsewhere, said they were heading to Otto. Take out from Pepe Rosso looks good at that point.

                1. Falling back on Otto is an option, though it is a completely different class of food that Babbo. The pastas don't even come close, and in my experience are chronically undercooked. I am from Italy and love Batali for spreading the good word about 'al dente', but the kitchen at Otto goes too far. Once my spaghetti were literally crunchy in the middle. When I sent it back the server's reply was: "That's the way it's supposed to be. It's how they do it in Italy." Same thing on a different night with flabby, undercooked pizza. It's very affordable, the food is OK most of the time, and its wine list is impressive (more like on steroids... in my experience they don't actually have a good chunk of what they advertise) but for a really memorable dinner, go to Babbo early and sit at the bar.
                  P.S. FYI gutsofsteel it's spelled "n'est-ce pas".

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: snaporaz

                    Last time I ate at Otto, I asked that my pasta be cooked al dente, but not crunchy - the waiter seemed to know what I was talking about, and the pasta was perfectly cooked.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Thanks, that's good to know. On the other hand, it's annoying to have to specify how you want your pasta cooked. But what I found really annoying was that both times I complained, our waiter's reply was: "that's the way it's supposed to be." Which is not only culinarily wrong, but is anathema to what the service industry should be about.

                  2. Thanks, our concierge was able to make res at Otto, (he pronounced it like the german mens' name rather than the italian eight -- assume the latter is what they were going for) But, I'm conflicted and thinking about cancelling. I get very authentic neapolitan pizza pretty regularly and I make my own pastas quite a bit, so I guess I was looking for something that would "wow" me. Either inventive combinations or higher quality, different ingredients than I'm able to get here in MN. We don't get a lot of cinghiale, nettles, tartufi. Not interested in organ meat or tripe, thanks. Still, I'd like to get some ideas to bring home.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: chrisinroch

                      If you want Italian, Casa Mono won't do it for you - but, it has wonderful, interesting Spanish food, and an *incredible* Spanish wine list. We usually do make reservations when we go (we've only been for weekend lunches) - sometimes the place is packed, other times not.

                      1. re: chrisinroch

                        Alto may be what you're looking for. A high end place serving atypical food. Last year it received 2 stars from the Times.

                        http://events.nytimes.com/2005/07/13/...

                        I haven't been myself - it's not the type of place that would appeal to me but it might be just what you're looking for.

                      2. what about lupa? fabulous food, easier to get into than babbo (i've made same-day reservations during the week several times), cheaper, and imho a better atmosphere.

                        1. Thought about Lupa, but beyond saltimbocca I'm not a big Roman cuisine guy. And I can make good saltimbocca at home.

                          I appreciate your thought tho.

                          1. Casa Mono is pretty different from Babbo, it is great Spanish style tapas and food, and the chef who opened it was a cook at Babbo, and Batali and Denton did invest cash in the place, but that's about the extent of the Batali-ness. Also, for what it's worth, I live down the block from Casa Mono and it's pretty much full every night, I've NEVER been able to just walk in and wait, even with a reservation you're likely to be sent next door to Bar Jamon for a glass of wine.

                            Forget Otto, forget Lupa, forget walking into Babbo and waiting (and there's often a 45-60 minute wait at 10ish). Instead, call Del Posto the morning of the day you'd like to eat there and reserve a table in the Enoteca. Beautiful room, some of the favorites and some new offerings from Batali. The Enoteca offers a $41 price fixe four course meal, with a full choice of the menu. For an additional $19 they'll match wines with each course. We walked in here last Thursday night without a reservation and waited under 30 minutes at the bar at 9:30. We had the option of sitting in the main dining room as well.

                            Just my two cents.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jesse

                              Hmmmm. I've been to Casa Mono and had no problem getting in without a Ressy (although I go pretty early, before 7pm). I would say there is a Batali style and Casa Mono -- while not Italian -- fits into his empire.