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Batali place

Visiting NYC for the first time in August. It will be husband, pescatarian daughter age 15, and me. Want to try as many of the NYC places I've heard so much about. One dilemma now: would like to try a Batali place. Obviously Babbo is the main choice, I know how hard it will be to get resrvations.

Can anyone opine on the differece between Babbo, Esca and Orso? (all Batali, right?)
Thanks for the help. Money is only a slight object. Were staying midtown.

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  1. well, for fish, I'd head to Esca.

    But don't rule out Lupa or the Enoteca at Del Posto.

    3 Replies
    1. re: dkstar1

      dkstar is there an enoteca at del posto more casual than the restaurant proper?

      1. re: jsmitty

        The enoteca is a 4 course prix-fix menu that comes in a bargain price of $41. Given how expensive the rest of the dishes are at Del Posto, enoteca is indeed the way to go. Link to the menu is here:


        You can order the enoteca menu no matter where you sit in the restaurant. However, I suggest dress up a little bit when going to Del Posto as the restaurant itself is so "grand" and "high-end" in appearance. (though I have seen people wearing jeans...)

        1. re: kobetobiko

          Get the $19 wine pairing too. It's delish. I've managed to sample the whole menu over the course of a few visits, and my favorites are the calamari and beef carpaccio for apps, the ravioli and orechiette for pasta (although the bucatini comes a close 3rd), the mains are all mediocre+ but i'd go with the pork and the swordfish, and the hazelnut crostada and the sorbetti for dessert ...

    2. august? yeah, i'd head to esca (very good cooked fish, crudo and pasta). you might want to consider an early dinner at casa mono. it's a batali place that features tapas and spanish wine. in the summer, the folding wooden walls are removed. air flow is good, vibe is good. i recommend it. lastly, early lunch at lupa really works for me. fish, salumi, wine and pasta. only a churl could cavil.

      1. Babbo starts taking reservations one month before (just like my dentist). If you call the very first day you're eligible, you should be able to reserve just fine, unless it's a major restaurant-centric holiday like Valentine's Day. In August, I don't think it'll be a problem.

          1. I really like Otto, his pizzeria. They have a great wine list and good pasta as well as pizza. The vibe is a little more relaxed. Their gelato is very good as well. I went to Esca and thought it was good, though I didn't like the atmoshere too much.

            1. Vote for Otto's for great pizza and gelato..and is very reasonable, price-wise

              4 Replies
                1. re: ChefJune

                  Ive read about Otto and ruled it out- if we're doing Batali I'd prefer a little more upscale. Plus if we get pizza in NYC it'll be a slice, or as close to the NYC pizza experience as possible. One of the 3 of us isn't much into pizza (no flames please!) anyway, so pizza is iffy...

                  Not too much chatter on this so, lets rephrase- which is better and easier to get to from mid-town---Babbo, Lupa or Esca??

                  1. re: aviva1

                    Esca, it is in midtown. I personally would take the trip and go to Lupa. It is a little easier to get into than Babbo but, IMHO, is a better "Batali" experience than Esca.

                    1. re: aviva1

                      My vote would be for Lupa. One of the best "gussying up" of saltimboca that I've seen. I'm also pretty down on babbo. Not the food so much as the scene, which was really wretched touristy the two times i went ( girls from long island showing their thongs at the bar, families fighting with their daughter's boyfriends). But maybe thats just my preference for roman food.

                2. Been to a few of the places so my 2cents says::

                  Lupa is the best. great, extensive, not horribly priced menu executed well in a nice space in an interesting part of town. Actually one of my 2-3 fave NY restaurants. I live right near ESCA and have been a few times. first time (salmon w/ figs) was OK. second (lobster w/ chilis and mint) was great. I have not tried to get into Babbo but have eaten at Po and thought it very good. I was underwhelmed with Del posto, to be honest, but will give it a second chance. Bottom line= LUPA LUPA LUPA

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: johleer

                    Batali is no longer affiliated with Po.

                  2. Look no further than Lupa. A perfect balance of food, atmosphere and Batali-esque pomp.

                    1 Reply
                    1. I checked out the online menus of Lupa and Esca and Esca seems slightly more user-friendly, so to speak?? Remember we will have with us a picky pescatarian 15 year old. Or Esca menu seems to have a larger selection?

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: aviva1

                        they are very different restaurants.l Lupa offers a good fish selection, both fresh and preserved, as well as incredible vegetables throughout the menu. Esca focuses on different preparations of fish in the Italian style.

                        Esca and Casa Mono are not true Batali restaurants in the sense that Lupa, Otto, Babbo and Del Posto are, in that Mario isn't involved in the daily operation nor menu development of them. He's an investor and advisor to these places, all of whom have very talented chefs that own and operate them.

                        1. re: jesse

                          jesse, I completely agree with you. I do not think Balati's cooking or style is reflected in Esca at all (may be just a bit in Casa Mono). That's why when someone asks for a Batali's experience, I will never mention Esca. Batali's style is just not there.

                        2. re: aviva1

                          esca is a solid destination. you won't be disappointed.

                          1. re: steve h.

                            Hmmm... Some of us would disagree.

                            1. re: RGR

                              I have to agree with RGR. If I were recommending one of Mario's restaurants Esca wouldn't make the cut.

                              I'd go with Babbo or Lupa.

                              It probably won't be as hard as you think to get a res at Babbo. Make sure you know whether you want upstairs (more quiet, refined) or downstairs (bustling, can be a bit hectic.)

                              As for Lupa, I've only made a res one time when dining there. All the others (maybe 8-10 times) we've just walked in and never waited longer than 30 minutes. You shouldn't have much of a problem getting a res there at all if you decide to phone ahead.

                              If you decide you want to break the bank you can always try Del Posto.

                              1. re: CornflakeGirl

                                Hey, CornflakeGirl, There was actually a little inside joke involved with my reply to steve h. He is a mega-fan of Esca while I wrote it off after just one visit because it was such a bad experience on every level, i.e. food quality, service, and ambiance. That was more than 6 years ago, and, for the past few years, steve has been trying to convince me to give it another try, obviously, thus far, to no avail. He feels confident that, eventually, he'll wear me down. Since I believe one should never say never, who knows? But for now, whenever the topic of Esca is raised, we cryptically spar back and forth. lol

                                1. re: RGR

                                  no doubt in my mind that i'll win you over. esca today, tomorrow le bernardin!

                                  1. re: steve h.

                                    If your inestimable charms can't persuade me to go back to esca, you'll have an even rougher time with Le Bernardin, especially considering the far steeper cost involved. But I'm sure that's not going to stop you from trying. lol

                        3. don't be too quick to rule out OTTO because it's the most accessible Batali place -- you can get in -- and the menu includes pastas and interesting sidedishes, meat & cheese plates. around xmas time a couple years ago I had the traditional seafood feast there, excellent. the wine-by-the-glass list is good and while the pizzas aren't old school, the vongole pie is edible and then some. worth a stop if you're strolling thru the village.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: mcoleman

                            Putting Babbo aside for the moment-- which place has more "approachable" food--Esca or Lupa??

                            1. re: aviva1

                              lupa is one of my "goto" lunch spots. esca is one of my "goto" seafood places. both share the batali signature of simple food well prepared. the wine lists at both are superb. both menus are equally approachable in the sense that esca is seafood oriented (love the crudo) and lupa is a little more pasta and meat centric. it's hard for me to argue one over the other.

                              1. re: aviva1

                                Esca is (almost) exclusively seafood, and some it is modestly exotic. Lupa has more "unusual" offerings (tripe alla romana, other offal, etc) but there are several very approachable pastas with simple sauces (oglio and aglio, black pepper). If you have questionable eaters in your group go to Lupa.

                                1. re: aviva1

                                  If your 15 yr.old is picky but lik s fish you may be better off at Esca. It's all fish so there will be something he or she likes on the menu. There are a lot of items on all 3 menus that a picky teenager might find odd but adults find interesting. I took my son to Lupa and the kitchen wound up making him a bowl of pasta with butter and cheese because there wsn't a single thing on the menu he would eat (It was awesome by the way!). At Otto there is always the old standby, Pizza Margharita for a picky kid and it is excellent.

                              2. both Lupa and Otto are excellent. Otto is not just pizza. There are pastas and salads and great gelato. Both restaurants have great food and are everything wonderful about Batali-Bastianich. Lupa is smaller and more intimate than Otto. You really feel like you are in the Village there. You can wander the streets before or after. The neighborhood is cozy.
                                Esca is in mid-town and the neighborhood is more frenetic. You're really in the general vicinity of the theater district and Tmes Square and all that goes with it. The restaurant is more up-scale than Lupa and Otto. It isn't stuffy though. It's comfortable.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: red rose

                                  I would say Lupa is a notch above Otto. They have some of the same pasta dishes but they're always better at Lupa.

                                  My favorite thing about Otto is the cheese course and the gelato. The pizza is good, not great.