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Feb 8, 2007 10:01 AM

Mario Batali & Lidia Bastianich: Enough Already

There's no question these two personalities struck the right chord in their respective culinary TV nitches. Their programs invite you into their kitchens where cultural and culinary delights are seemingly evoked just for you. But have you actually been to their "kitchens"?

First off, you'll certainly not find them there, and you'll be lucky if their influences still resonate in the food, its preparation and the service. I have no doubt that Mario or Lidia could come over your house and absolutely blow you away using any of the ingredients that might be lying around your refrigerator, but that's not what's going on here. Mario and Lidia are cooking by proxy (if that) - you're consuming a product created by businesses whose marketing departments are headed by very talented and personable chefs. And I think the uneveness and often underwhelming reviews of their respective and collaborative restaurant operations bear that out.

I'm not sure about you, but after a dissapointing yet quite expensive dining experience at one of their establishments, I've become increasingly fatigued and sceptical of both their on-air and off-air offerings.


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  1. I had a pretty good, occasionally great meal at Babbo that made me cook out of Batali's books alot more . . . you have to order some of the signature fresh pasta dishes and things with ingredients you don't have access to, to get your money's worth imho. And even then . . .
    I totally agree that you're paying for the tv fame, and the tv fame keeps these folks out of their kitchens.

    1. Although Babbo and Del Posto are two of my favorite restaurants, I have to agree with you...without fabulously talented chefs in their kitchens, they'd be out of business....neither one of them is anywhere to be seen, although I heard from my sister in law that she spotted Mario eating in, of all places, Otto, which I detested!!

      1. My first meal at Felidia was in 1981 and it was fantastic. Ate there regularly in the early 80's then changed offices. Fast forward to 2006 and an invite comes for Felidia's. Very excited to re-visit an old haunt.

        Ordered a buch of food and I was somewhat disappointed. Not only was it not as great as I remembered (I know when is it ever) it was not great to others in the recent past. Was it because Lidia was not there. Well she walked out of the kitchen mid-meal in her famous flowered grandma dress and greeted many tables.

        Are they being driven by "Marketing Departments"? Gimme a break and stop the corporate bashing, enough already.

        1. I thought Becco was awful but thought Babbo was one of the meals of my life; I've also really enjoyed Otto and Lupa - not sure what your rant is really about to tell you the truth. Are you upset that Mario isn't in his clogs in the kitchen; or is there a particular restaurant you're complaining about?

          1. He can't be everywhere all at once, but I'd say Mario Batali actually spends a lot more time in his restaurants than most other chefs with his celeb status. (...I've seen him at Babbo and at Otto...) I give him a lot of credit for that.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nychowgirl

              I read in an interview with him that he actually works the line alot at Babbo during the 7-9 crunch. I don't know how true that is but that's what he said.