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Babbo Reservations ... Help!

One of my best friends and his fiancee are coming to town and it's been a lifelong dream of theirs to do the pasta tasting course. I have a specific April Friday night in mind, although we're flexible with timing.

How does one even begin to go about getting a reservation at Babbo? Is it as monumentally difficult as people say it is? Any tips, suggestions, warnings are welcome.

And for you sticklers, I'm sure there's something in the archives that I could've dug up, but there's some value to revisiting old discussions periodically, ain't there?

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  1. You can only make reservations for Babbo one month in advance TO THE DAY. SO say you want to go April 12. You have to call March 12 and no sooner. If you want to eat at a prime time, you have to call as soon as the lines open on that day. It's not as much of a hassle as one might think that it is, but just be patient. The only annoying thing is that it has to be to the day. Like i said, just be patient and you will be able to get a reservation!

    1 Reply
    1. re: NiKoLe1625

      Actually, it can be a hassle. I spent HOURS, hitting redial for a 4/1 reservation for our anniversary dinner, and after pretty much being given the evil eye by my boss about 4 hours later, finally had to admit defeat and gave up

    2. Niko is right, just call one month to the day and you should be okay to get a reservation at a decent time. It's not as bad as you think especially since you are working well in advance of the day you'd like to go. Good luck and enjoy!

      1. So when would they start taking reservations for March 29th, 30th, or 31st? There aren't any numerical counterparts one month in advance (in February). They'd have to start on either February 28 or March 1. [Note: I'm not actually trying to get a table on those dates; I just think it's an interesting question.]

        4 Replies
        1. re: jakew8

          And I can report the results. They took resos starting at 1000 on March 1 for all those dates. I heard a busy signal for close to an hour before giving up. Anyone who says getting a good time reso at Babbo is not a hassle has not tried. If you want to eat at 5 or 930, no prob.

          1. re: jfood

            I had the exact same experience. An hour of busy signals, then I was offered crap reservation slots. Sorry Mario, I wish you well but I'm not going to put up with that.

            And don't fall for that "eat at the bar" advice. Maybe it was a good idea once but *everybody* knows that trick. The bar is packed with tourists, suburbanites, and city folk alike all trying to beat the system and camp out in that cramped space to grab a meal. Not exactly the relaxed and calm atmosphere in which to enjoy a high end dining experience.

            I'm sure the bar trick works occasionaly but you'd better have a Plan B because a lot of other people will be competing for those seats.

            1. re: Bob Martinez

              I'm with you BM, fahgetaboutit.

              Too many good restos in NY to worry about it. Although I am an A-type and took the busy signal personally.

              On to other chefs and food, yippee!!

              1. re: Bob Martinez

                I'm one of those people who offer advice to eat at the bar. Although not for special occasions. If it's a special occasion, I would rather have a reservation. But if you just want to have a good meal, and you're grabbing dinner by yourself or with a friend (no more than one) I definitely recommend the bar.

          2. If memory is correct for March 29, 30 or 31st you call on February 28th. If that was going to be a problem for you call a few days before the day you open takes reservations and call and ask the rules. If you call in the afternoon the lines aren't busy.

            I've never had trouble getting a reservation at Babbo when making the reservation the month ahead of time. I believe its only frustrating if you don't call in the morning and keep getting shut out of the time you want.

            3 Replies
            1. re: matt

              This is only my first post here (long time lurker), but I would like to (respectfully of course) mention that it is the FIRST of the month where you can make reservations if the calendar days don't match.

              For example, I just made a reservation for March 30 today, March 1. I called a few weeks ago and I was told that since there were only 28 days in February, Babbo would be taking reservations for March 29, 30, and 31 on March 1.

              And Kanger: I kept hitting redial from about 10:00 on, and finally got through around 10:40. They had the time I wanted on March 30 with no problem.

              Thanks to all who post on this board for your great ideas!

              1. re: Bob P

                only been there once, but had no problem whatsoever getting a reservation. i started calling at 10am and got through by about 1020. i think many people call right when the lines open, so waiting 20 minutes might save you the trouble of redialing every 30 seconds. we ended up being able to eat at 715.

                1. re: Bob P

                  My bad. What's funny is I even have the rules written down in my outlook calendar for my wife's birthday.

              2. I've had friends eat here as walk-ins. They just gave their name at the door, had a drink and were sat not too long after arrival. Always worth a chance.

                1. I have always found it near impossible to get through on the phone lines, so went and made my reservation in person. That is my suggestion.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: cfrick004

                    Cfrick004, do you remember what time of day you walked in to make your reservation, and did you wind up with a fairly "normal" (i.e. 8pm) dinner time? I am thinking of doing this but curious what people's experiences have been.

                    1. re: LJW

                      I walked into the restaurant at 9:58am this morning. They weren't ready yet so I waited about 5 minutes. I was the first reservation made; got my reservation for 12/17 at 8pm for 2. The reservationist said I could pick any time I wanted. Easy!

                      1. re: kathryn

                        Did this again for a reservation for a Saturday night in June. Got there at 9:55am, there was another fellow who appear at the same moment. We went into the restaurant, and the reservationist said that a few people had already been by that morning. I ended up with a 4-top for 7:45pm instead of 8pm, but, not that much difference to me.

                  2. OK, time to report back ... two of my friends and I started calling at 10 am. Two of us never got through (busy signals all the way), but one of us got through at 10:15 am (was promptly placed on hold), and was able to make the reservation by 10:20 am.

                    Much more painless than expected. Thanks for your advice, everyone!

                    1. I just had exactly the same experience, but across from London - I must have made the reservation immediately before you!

                      Compared to the October 14, 0:00:01 email I had to send to El Bulli (and 2 months and 9 days it took them to get back offering a table for 2 a mere 9 and a half months later), it was a breeze.....!

                      1. What could be the rational for only opening the reservation books one month ahead of time? Serious is curious.

                        1. Why bother with all this? I ate there. It is good, most definitely NOT great. I was totally underwhelmed.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: cayuga

                            Getting the reso was more of the challenge. Usually these places are all hype, but Babbo seems to have a 50-50 split which is pretty high IMO. I'll get there eventually, but at this point who need the headache with so many other choices in town.

                            1. re: cayuga

                              Why bother???... Because Mr. Batali is the Iron Chef after all!

                              We went there and was underwhelmed as well, but maybe it was partly due to the high expectations in the first place. My wife just went to Lupa (another Batali restaurant) and said she preferred it to Babbo for ambiance (less stuffy) and the food was very good as well.

                              1. re: cayuga

                                We're going specifically to try the pasta-tasting menu. Personally, I've loved every pasta dish I've tried at both Lupa and Del Posto Enoteca (although not at Otto), so I figure I've got to try Babbo's pasta tasting at least once.

                                I agree it's silly to have smoke when there's no fire, but every once in a while an "over"-hyped, well-reviewed restaurant deserves all its accolades and then some. I'm hoping Babbo is one of them!

                                1. re: Kanger

                                  the pasta is unbelievable!! you will not be disappointed!!

                                  1. re: Kanger

                                    You'll love the pasta tasting menu. My wife and I were there this past Sat and had it. Top to bottom, it was great, and FILLING. I did find the papardelle bolognese was over-salted. I'd like to know what you think of it after you've had it. But it was a very small glitsh in an otherwise delicious meal.

                                    1. re: MagnumWino

                                      Every time I go to Babbo I get the pasta tasting menu with the wine pairing and every time it just amazes me.

                                      That being said I think I am going to either get the regular tasting menu or just order off the menu next time as they haven't significantly changed the past tasting in years and I want to sample some other dishes.

                                2. Every so often I get an idea in my head to try to get reservations at Babbo, and what worked best for me was to start at 9:58am and start dialing and redialing every second. It may take 10 minutes of persistence, but it eventually should work.

                                  1. I hope you eat there on a "good" night. I've been to Babbo several times over the last few years, had the pasta tasting menu at least 3 times, and the regular tasting menu at least twice. Usually I love the pasta tasting menu, but the last time (two weeks ago) the kitchen wasn't paying attention. Several of the pastas were undercooked, the first two came out lukewarm (I told the waiter to make sure the rest came out piping hot), some were under-seasoned (the braised veal filling in the "pyramids" didn't seem to have been seasoned at all) while the parpadelle bolognese was too salty (maybe it was the same batch as the previous poster!) With that said, I will say that Babbo is still one of my favorite restaurants in NY and I have had many wonderful meals where the pastas were all fabulous. I just hope that it's not a trend given that Batali has spread himself rather thin these days.

                                    1. I think it's a hit or miss thing. I was given a "gift" of dinner at any Manhattan restaurant I chose for Christmas last year. I chose Babbo. We got a reservation at 6 or 7 on a Friday evening with seemingly little hassle. However, my DH got the flu and we had to cancel. Making the reservation the second time around was utterly impossible. We gave up and decided to stay local for the my special dinner.

                                      1. I have been trying for months, no luck. The line is busy guaranteed at 10AM any day. If you finally get through by 5pm or so you will get circular answers over and over on the reservation line. The two times I have actually gotten a live person they had 11pm only and one time they acted like they could not hear me....Cute... Screw them, there are too many great restaurants in NYC to put up with this. Times are good right now for the fat kid that got beat up in elementary school a lot/Babbo so they can act like a**holes, but someday they will be sorry. Aquavit, Blue Hill, Gramercy Tavern, Nobu, etc, all are easy to get reservations at and are 5 star. Think elsewhere. Cheers, SL....

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Pismo10

                                          I've just shown up on the early side, 5:30 to 6. There are usually bar tables open. Also, I've been offered a table in the dining room with time constraints (out by 8:30, for instance). Babbo is a hard place to get a "normal" reservation, but there are ways around it.

                                        2. Hi Hounds, I'm interested in whether anybody has an additional insight or updated information on the best way to score a Babbo reservation. I am sending my parents to NYC for their 35th wedding anniversary, and have promised to try and arrange for dinner at Babbo that night. I want the reservation for July 19th, on the early side, around 6 pm. I am planning on calling June 19th at 10 am sharp. Anything else I should be doing to up my chances? Or is it a matter of just keeping my fingers crossed and hitting the redial button?

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: charmedgirl

                                            Worst case and certainly not ideal for their anniversary, walk in early since they care to dine early anyways.
                                            Otherwise, best way is to actually show up at Babbo at 10am.
                                            Calling works but certainly some good fortune is necessary.
                                            Also, call back later that same day if you do not get through, maybe 12-3pm.

                                            http://foodonlymatters.wordpress.com/

                                            1. re: foodonlygood

                                              Thanks for the reply! Unfortunately, being in Baltimore, walking in the door at 10 am isn't an option for me. Nor do I want to risk sending my parents there for an anniversary weekend without dinner plans all locked up. I will keep in mind the idea about calling back later in the afternoon if I don't get through in the morning, though.

                                              1. re: charmedgirl

                                                Well, MMRuth is trying to hook you up so good luck with that.
                                                Even people in Manhattan, mostly, cannot go there at 10am but I figured I would let you know, just in case.
                                                Obviously the walk in suggestion was also poor but as a last ditch thought. It would not be so bad for yourself but for your parents, the wait might be a bit much. Plus the fact that the tables in the front for walk-ins are kind of a zoo.

                                                Hope you get it done, somehow.

                                                http://foodonlymatters.wordpress.com/

                                            2. re: charmedgirl

                                              If you or a friend have an AMEX Platinum card, they'll make the reservation for you. My husband called them a couple of days ahead of the 30 days ahead of the date we wanted and they made the reservation for us on that day and confirmed.

                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                Hmmm .... Too bad I don't know anyone with an AMEX Platinum. :-( Thanks for the reply though MMRuth!

                                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                                  Reporting back! I had three people trying on my behalf, including myself (and MMRuth's connection -- thanks again MMRuth!!!). I was the only one who got through. Started calling at 9:59 am and got a busy (note to self: next time I am going to start at 9:55 am). It stayed busy until a little after 10:30 am, and I had the reservation by 10:40 something am. Exact time I wanted, 6 pm. Thanks for all the suggestions and good wishes!

                                                  My best advice for the next person who comes looking on this thread is that if you can't walk in, the redial button starting a few minutes before 10 am is the way to go.

                                                2. when all else fails, go to http://nyc.tablexchange.com/. it might sound ridiculous but if you're in a pinch and have to eat where you have to eat- this site is awesome and totally worth it.

                                                  1. If you are flexible with your reservation time, it's pretty easy/breezy.

                                                    1. Do the bar--it's fun too. We got there a little bit before four o'clock the first time we went and were the first people seated.

                                                      If you can, go with kids. Seriously. I went with my family tonight and we were planning on getting seats at the bar like we did the other time we went (no kids that time). I have two younger brothers who were with us tonight (12 and 14, both have great palettes) and the maitre'd noticed us waiting outside in the cold (it was truly freezing). He told us he didn't want kids waiting out in the cold-- so he took our last name and reserved a table (not just seats at the bar, but a legitimate table in the dining room) and told us to get warm and come back at 5 when they opened for dinner. Couldn't believe our luck-- we were very grateful and had an unbelievable meal without having to wait or call for reservations.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: ahha3289

                                                        I'd just like to say that for all those who plan to make reservations via the 10AM walk-in route to show up a bit early if it is a special occasion. I showed up at 945 this morning to make a reservation for February 14th (VDay) and the woman who takes the resys had been there since 8:50 and said people had been trickling in to get a time. Before the phone lines even opened all that I was left with was a 10:00PM.

                                                      2. So yeah, 2 yrs later and ppl are still gonna reply to this post, haha...

                                                        my little sis is coming in a month so i decided to see if i could get reservations... started calling at 9:59am (no redial on my office phone so had to do it by hand, muscle memory is amazing...), first i got the "after hours" message and then instant busy tone until 10:20am... a couple of minutes to navigate teh phone menu (i was nervous not to mess it up) and then five minutes on hold listening to some italian music... finally, got a reservation for 3 ppl on a saturday at 7:30pm, primo time i must say...

                                                        if i didn't get through, i was def gonna try and walk in tomorrow in the AM to get a reservation...

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: ssp242

                                                          To get reservations, use the phone number on the website for "confirmations." They usually answer.

                                                          1. re: stephaniec25

                                                            While I agree that calling at 10 am exactly one month before the reservation date is the way to go, if you are HARDCORE about eating at Babbo and can get to the restaurant at 4:30-4:45, your chances are extremely good at getting in (if you don't mind eating early). The first reservation is 5:30, but the restaurant opens its doors around 5:00 pm for people waiting out front and will serve you as soon as you are seated. They have six open tables every night for this situation.
                                                            I had a conference that ended at 4:00 on a Friday, walked to Waverly, waited online for about 20 minutes (I was the first one there), and got in no problem. The next time I went (with a reservation), it looked as though the people who were waiting online at a quarter to 5:00 p.m. got in as well.