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Mar 2, 2008 12:32 PM

Babbo- 1st or 2nd floor/ Menu Items?

I finally scored a rezzy at Batali's Babbo! Just wondering which is better in terms of ambience and decor? Is there any difference? I know many people say the first floor is a bit loud but that does not bother me or my family. This is for a very special occasion and want to have the best dining experience possible.

Secondly- What to order? We will be a party of 4. I was thinking to share 2 pastas for an appetizer and then let us all choose our main courses ( My mom and sis would probably choose pasta for their main as well). My father and I would choose two meat dishes- most likely the duck and pork chop since I have heard the "ribeye for two" is not worth the money. Are the pastas very large? Would this be too much food or just enough? I will also be keeping in mind that we were be sharing a few desserts at the end of the meal.

Finally- Which pastas are the best? It seems like everyone on the board always suggests the beef cheek ravioli and pappardelle bolognese but the pumpkin lune and garganelli funghi seem interesting. Are these the best choices or are there some others that nobody mentions? Final question- Does Babbo have nightly specials or is their menu the same every night as it is on their website? Thanks and sorry for the many questions!

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  1. Second floor.
    It's been years since my last trip, so I can't offer good menu recs, but still the best preparation if sweetbreads I've had, if you're into that sort of thing. Portions are on the bigger side.

    1. The pumpkin lune and garganelli funghi are amazing. I dream of pumpkin lune at night---so delicate and delicious. The garganelli is so flavorful--if you like mushrooms definitely get it!!

      1. I'd suggest also sharing an antipasto or two, besides the two pastas. For pasta, the Beef Cheek Ravioli is pretty fantastic, as is the Garganelli and the Lune. I also like the Goose Liver Ravioli. While Bolognese is good, it's not much better (nor different) than what you can get in countless other places, so I'd skip it. If the crispy duck is on the menu for a main, I'd highly recommend that.

        1. It's not just the noise on the first floor, it's the crowding. Take the second floor.

          5 Replies
          1. re: rrems

            Thanks for the suggestions- You think they will be able to accomodate a request for the second floor?

            1. re: steakrules85

              Yes, definitely, and make sure you ask when you confirm your reservation. The crowding is horrible, and there's just chaos around the coat check and host station.

              1. re: kathryn

                I just called today to ask if I could be seated upstairs since it was a special occasion. They said no problem and even asked me what the occasion was. Maybe a free dessert?? Haha, either way it was very nice of them to ask and accomodate this request to sit upstairs.

              2. re: steakrules85

                The front 4 tables are reserved for walkins. You should not be seated there. Yes, they are not pleasant, though the one tucked into the front window used to be fine.
                The other tables on the first floor are along the sidewalls. It ain't that bad. I understand there are different vibes for people but if you are that bothered by this atmosphere, move to Idaho and stretch out and have some peace and quiet. Of course, then you miss out on the food.
                I like space and a low tone room sometimes, also. This ain't the place, so be it. Go to Per Se, also great.

                Note, if you know what you like, I suggest perusing the wine list before you go. The one bad experience I had there(a number of meals) was due to a very poor choice by the sommelier. He used logic like a 10 yr old who knew nothing about wine would. Not that I am an expert but that choice was plain BAD. It was awhile ago, probably someone else, currently, but always a good idea to have a few choices in mind if you know your way around the list.

              3. 2nd fl is better, yes, but it won't ruin anything to eat on the 1st if that is all you can get. You won't know if they can seat you up there until you ask. Obviously, the CAN but maybe they will or won't. Go for it, they won't rescind your reservation.

                As you claim, you can deal with some noise and a bit of crowding, as you should, it is Manhattan. I don't mind it and I don't find it that cramped and have had great meals on both floors.
                Table I like most is on 2nd floor, towards the back but not against the back wall.

                As for the food, 4 total pastas and 2 entrees is not much, in terms of sampling the food. If you are going, I would suggest at least 8 total dishes(sans dessert) if you don't go there all the time. Keith mentioned this, as well.But that is up to you.

                Pastas, so many, all good, pretty much.
                Goat Cheese Tortelloni
                Mint Love Letters, people don't mention this all the time? That is why I don't listen to many people.
                Chianti Stained Pappardelle
                Gnocchi with Braised Oxtail , a must for me almost all the time but had to give it up sometimes to try other things besides a fellow diner's offering.

                Just to comment on some others not mentioned. Would skip, as partially mentioned by Keith, those that are typical, Bolognese, Amatriciana. Hard to go wrong, in general, though.

                Secondi are the weakest part of the menu, I would be more careful here.
                No osso buco or ribeye. Whole fish is probably good though I have never had it.
                Chops are usually good but would skip the small birds if you really aren't used to them.
                Have not had the duck, someone mentioned crispy? That sounds good.

                If you want more info on Apps and Desserts, I am sure people will let you know. Hopefully, they don't lead you astray.

                Menu is not the same as website, often.
                I am guessing your family is not quite so liberal in palate(ordering only pasta) but if so, consider the tasting menu. I have enjoyed the regular one. Pasta looks good, too, and they excel at them but I just cannot do a whole meal of pasta exclusively.


                1 Reply
                1. re: gambit50

                  As for the Secondis, the sweetbreads are wonderful. A playful, delicious take on liver and onions (which I don't even like).