Babbo -- Bottle or Quartino Pairings
I finally have my Babbo reservation this weekend! I have been trying to figure out whether to order a bottle of wine or to ask the sommelier to pair quartinos with each dish. We expect to order several dishes and create our own "tasting" menu, so pairings would be great. My only concern is that the quartino selection does not appear to be extensive. Babbo experts, please help!
I'm not a Babbo expert but I did pass Mario Batali walking along Washington Square one day :)
The quartinos are the way to go. There's no single bottle of wine that would come close to adequately matching an entire meal there. Don't worry about the number of wines, the list doesn't have to be all that extensive to reasonably connect with all the dishes you're likely to have.
Babbo has SOME wine list!
And, there are at least two tasting menus as I recall that pair wines with each course!
I think it'd be fun to do the quartinos, or better yet, wines by the glass with each course, even if you're not doing an established tasting menu. The sommelier will be your guide.
The only hesitation I have is...since Joe Bastianich (part-owner) owns several wine brands, I'd be reluctant to have those brands pushed on me. But that's just me.
I'd check out the Babbo menu and wine list online. You can get an idea of what you'd like to order beforehand. Would you mind reporting back on what you ate and drank? Either here on the wine board, or on the Manhattan board with a link here to your post? Thanks. That Mario Batali is something.
I would recommend the quartino option, as I think Babbo only offers sparkling whites by the glass. Still, I would start with a nice glass of prosecco, and move forward from there. If you already know what dishes you intend to order, I it shouldn't be too difficult to choose your wines, since, as you pointed out, the offerings aren't too many. But some of tem are very good- I particularly suggest the Tocai Friuliano under whites, and the Taurasi and Vino Nobile under Reds. These will give you a nice cross-section of Italian regional grapes, and will pair very nicely with several of their most popular and signature dishes.
A great as Babbo's wine list is (it's a great read), I would only recommend the bottle option for a group of people who will get to try several wines over several courses, if you know what I mean.
re: maria lorraine
It's quite possible that they will. Their regular wine menu does not offer wines by the glass, but I don't see why they wouldn't allow a table to have the wine pairings by the glass for whatever the regular supplemental price is for diners who have the full tasting menu. The only problematic issue I can foresee is that the wine pairings are intended for 8 courses and the OP's party most likely won't be ordering that many.
I had a great experience at Babbo last summer, and none of it was by my doing. Colin(sp?), our sommelier, was great. We wound up having a bottle of a white Friulian blend, the Bastianich Vespa Bianco, and a quartino of barbaresco. Unfortunately, the latter's name escapes me at the moment. Let him be your guide.
I had the same reservations that Maria did about ordering the Bastianich wine, but at $60 and compared to some of the higher priced wines, it was very good QPR.
While their quartino selection is limited compared to the rest of the list (and I recall them not having a by the glass list, unless you are having the tasting menu pairing), I have often heard that they are often extremely flexible when it comes specific requests. If you see a bottle that isnt too expensive and it interests you, it never hurts to ask if you can try that by the quartino. Or perhaps ordering a glass that's on their tasting menu sommelier pairings. They move enough wine nightly that it shouldn't pose a problem for them, provided it's a popular grape/producer/region. If you want to try a bunch of different glasses instead of quartinos, they should be able to oblige as well.
Sidenote: if you're feeling like trying as many things as you can, since Babbo weekend reservations are awfully hard to come by, politely ask if they can offer courses in half portions. They're really good about stuff like that.
Above all, enjoy!
Sorry that this is probably a day late but I would just find one really good bottle or just do one of the tasting menus with wine pairing. The latter is an excellent example of pairings. Steer clear of the Bastianich supply, there is much better for the same price or a bit more.
I do not know how tailored they will be to your desires, by the glass, etc. but honestly, if you do not know enough to have it planned out yourself, then you will not mind what they have. They are not slouches.
Making your own tasting menu with shared items brings about the problem of needing multiple wines at the same time and thus confusion.
Too much drinking and you won't know the difference. Plus, most people eat less than I do and I would have a problem doing what you propose for many reasons.
If they are super flexible for you, great but do not hate them if they are not. A limit is reasonable at some point and they are certainly an obliging restaurant. However, note that the quartino selection is minute compared to the bottle selection and they are not a great selection. Though get the Taurasi(good house) as mentioned above if going quartino.
Also, note that the quartino section is very cheap(250 mL v 750mL)even if multiplied by 3 to arrive at an equivalent bottle price.
If price is not an issue, get 2 bottles, that will be excellent. One great bottle(under $100 can be done for sure) is plenty good even across a wide range of dishes.
Just a note about the Bastianich wines... Yes, there is a potential conflict of interest with the co-owner also owning the winery, but you should know that Bastianich actually makes good wines. BUT for my hesitation to fully trust a reccomendation of a Bastianich over something else, simply due to the economic conflict of interest there, under other circumstances -- were I at a differnt restaurant or in a wine boutique with no direct economic affiliation -- I would absolutely consider ordering a Bastianich. So, basically what I'm saying is, I think even if it isn't the absolute best pairing and they might try slightly harder to sell them, Bastianich is a good enough winery that you would still be getting what is likely to be a great wine, so I wouldn't worry about it.
Thanks for your help, everyone! Here is a link to my very long report on Babbo I posted on the Manhattan board.
In short, both nights, we simply asked the waiter if he would pair wine with each of our dishes and he said of of course! The first night, we were charged $30 for four different wines (with two glasses each of most of them) and we were charged $20 the second night for three pairings. We were able to taste several different wines and I am very happy that we asked for the pairings. It added a little bit of extra excitement to the amazing experience.