Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Mar 26, 2008 05:42 AM

Babbo Review from Last Night

So I finally went to Babbo last night after waiting a month. Took my parents there for their 25th anniversary and it turned out to be a great experience. When I called for the original reservation I informed them that it was a very special occasion and their anniversary. I also requested to sit upstairs. Upon arrival at 5:45 they took our coats, wished my parents happy anniversary, and seated us upstairs as requested. Great start to the night.

Once we were seated we were given the chickpea bruschetta and bread. They must have refilled our bread plates like 5 times throughout the meal. Service was absolutely flawless all night long. Our waiter was extremely helpful in answering any of our questions (as anyone who had been to Babbo knows some dishes tend to be a bit more exotic). He also congratulated my parents on their big day several times throughout the evening.

On to the food- It was me, my sister, and my two parents. We decided to share two pastas for the appetizer. We had the pumpkin lune and pappardelle with wild boar ragu. Both were delicious- especially the pumpkin lune which had an unbelievable sweetness accented by the amaretti cookies they grate on it. The pappardelle ragu was great too- never had boar and it had a very different but delicious taste to it.

For Mains- I had the duck which was incredible. The breast melted in your mouth and tasted like butter, while the leg was extremely juicy dark meat with incredible crispy skin on top of slow cooked onions and pancetta. My father went with the mammoth pork chop which I think was the best chop I have ever tasted. Mom had a special- fettucine with pancetta and endive which had a great buttery taste and texture. Finally my sister had the skirt steak which was very tasty, however on the small side.

On to dessert- They wrote Happy Anniversary on the dessert plates in chocolate which was a fantastic touch. My parents really enjoyed that attention to detail. We shared the pistachio semifreddo, almond upside down cake with espresso gelato, and chocolate hazelnut cake with hazelnut gelato and orange peel. All were terrific. Wish the pistachio had a little stronger pistachio flavor though. The almond upside down cake was so intense and the gelato was really rich. The chocolate hazelnut cake was one of the most chocolately pieces of cake I have ever had! And the hazelnut gelato was so good. My parents had cappuccino which they deemed " The best they ever had- like a milkshake". I tried a special tea which was chocolate, vanilla, and roobous. Never had a tea that tasted like that. Petit fours rounded out the meal with the check.

Dish I Regret not ordering- RIBEYE FOR TWO! I saw a few tables get this and as my name implies I am a STEAK LOVER. It was huge and cooked perfectly deep red medium rare in the center and crispy crust on the outside. The aroma from the meat was incredible. DEFINITELY have to try next time. I figured I could get great steak at any steakhouse in the city, which is why I opted for the duck. I loved the duck, but I knew after seeing that ribeye I would regret not ordering it. It was massive and for 70 bucks (for two) seemed like a bargain considering what steakhouses charge. You get a side of potatoes as well... oh well next time for sure I will get my ribeyeeeeee.

Overall- Great service, food, experience. Would definitely love to go back. Came to about $290 bucks with tip which I expected. One thing to note- Portions are quite small which is good and bad. It allows you to sample many different dishes without feeling overfull- and leaves you room to try some great desserts. I just think they should give you maybe one side dish with your main course- especially the skirt steak which was kinda skimpy in size. Other than that Babbo is a great place. Is it worth all of the hassle of a reservation- Maybe not, but it is definitely a restaurant everyone should experience at least once.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. When I've gone, I've done an appetizer, a pasta, and 1/2 a main, plus dessert, and that's more than enough food for me. Even a friend who ordered a single pasta and a full main was completely stuffed by the end. To me, the portions are really big! I believe that in Italy, it is customary to order multiple courses (antipasti, primi, secondi, contorni, and dolce), which is what I end up doing at Babbo. (I also believe that side dishes are typically an additional charge in Italy.)

    You didn't get any appetizers at all and only ordered TWO pastas?! That makes me sad! There's so much deliciousness on the antipasti and pasta menus: lamb's tongue vinaigrette, grilled octopus, crispy pig's foot, salumi, tripe, goose liver ravioli...I figure, it's a pain to get a reservation, why not try as much as possible?

    2 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      That's interesting: Can you order half a secondo for half price, or did you split a secondo two ways? I've never asked for half a secondo, only half a primo, which most Italian restaurants I've been to in New York are happy to do (usually, not for lasagna, but for most other pasta dishes).

      1. re: Pan

        I split it, sorry if that wasn't clear. In any case, I think the portions are appropriately sized. And for some of the mains, they are giant.

    2. Wow. $290 for 4 people and the amount of food (did you have wine?) sounds like a pretty decent price for a dinner at Babbo. Definitely gotta go when I'm back in the city.

      2 Replies
      1. re: linguafood

        I was thinking the same thing - It was more than that for just my wife and me...but we did drink our share of vino.

        SR85 - don't fret about the steak. Sure it's great, but you can get great steak in many places. Agree with Kathryn that the key is get as many specialties of the house when you don't know when you'll be back....especially the grilled octopus.

        1. re: linguafood

          Yeah haha fortunately for me my parents aren't big drinkers. They each had a cocktail but we didn't splurge on a bottle on win.

          As far as the money goes I think Babbo is a great value. Average pasta price is around 22 bucks and entrees don't cost more than 30. Definitely a bargain for the quality and location. Other NYC establishments charge much more and are half as good.

          Kathryn- We actually got a taste of three pastas since my mom opted for a pasta as a main. Overall the portions turned out to be just right!!!! I loved the fact that by the time dessert came I still had enough room. Usually when I eat out I am sick to my stomach and can't enjoy my dessert. I must admit though after dessert I was very full.

          Harrison- Yeah I am glad I got the duck since it is something you really dont get to have everyday. But as a steak lover I definitely feel like I missed out a little bit. And to top it all off as I was leaving they were carving one off the bone for the table next to us and I was tempted to snatch a piece of steak off the plate as I was exiting!!!! But hey next time.

        2. I went on the 23rd and our check for 2 including tip came out to $180. We had 2 antipasti, 1 pasta, and 2 entrees with some drinks. Neither of us have a sweet tooth so we skipped on the dessert. I don't think the portions are small at all. It would have been perfect if you ordered some antipasti because those really shine. I certainly think it is well worth the hassle for the reservation.

          1 Reply
          1. re: DarthEater

            I absolutely love Babbo. My wife has a conference in the city once a year and I tag along, so I always wind up eating alone at Babbo, since she has dinner at the conference. I've never gotten out of there with less than a $200+ bill including tip. But I order antipasto, primi, secondi and dessert with a digestivo. I also leave it up to the bartender to pair the wine with each course. But I'm always very happy at the end of the evening.