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Any tips for a Babbo first timer?

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Hello all, I have posted on this board to get my fellow CH's opinions on other restaurants in Manhattan, and I want to first say Thank You to all of you here. I don't know if you realize it, but everyone here who contributes to any post is contributing to special trips to places worth checking out. My father and I have been planning this trip for well over a year, and as I head off to school in the fall, this is our last "hoo-rah" together after years of adventures. So, thank you for all the advice you guys give on here. As a lover of good food, travels, and, above all, people, everyone on this board contributes to one fantastic community :).

That aside, my father and I will be dining at Babbo for one of our dinners. As the title of this topic alludes to, this is our first time there. Any advice? I know its a broad topic, but I would like to know what you guys have to say about it. For those who have been there: What did you get? As this will be our only opportunity to go there, what should we get? Should we each order something and split it? Come hungry? Tasting menu? Dessert? Any word on this place (because it OBVIOUSLY hasn't been talked about enough :P) would be great. Thanks :)

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  1. pasta tasting is LIFE CHANGING. come starving and do not fill up on bread. also i prefer the downstairs room as its a little more lively but upstairs is quietier and a bit more reserved.

    1. Here's a good thread - I'm going for the first time myself in June:

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/467282

      Here's one on ordering for two:

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/511304

      Other threads that should be useful:

      http://www.chow.com/search?search%5Bq...

      1. For two people I've done two antipasti, four primi, and split a secondi between the two of us. That leaves some room for dessert. The secondi are typically huge. Don't eat the bread, it's kind of boring. Note that they don't offer olive oil or butter with bread service.

        Assuming you are adventurous/don't mind offal, I'd do for the appetizers: the lamb's tongue vinaigrette with three minute egg, crispy pig's foot, grilled octopus, or tripe (comes with bread, very messy). If you are trying to save space, the salumi is also very good but a much smaller portion.

        For pastas, I love the goose liver ravioli the most. Others like the beef cheek ravioli, chianti stained parpadelle, gnocchi with oxtail, or mint love letters, but I think the goose liver wins (haven't tried the lamb's brains yet though). Personally, I am not a huge red sauce fan and though the gnocchi and mint love letters were good but not great. YMMV.

        For the main, the fennel-dusted sweetbreads are fantastic. The skirt steak is only OK. I've also heard wonderful things about the duck, lamb chop, or pork chop. The mains are sometimes HUGE though, like caveman size. There are often nice specials too (had some braised pork cheeks last time). For the big chops, you can spot a big rack of meat coming from across the room!

        For dessert, the sorbeti/gelati assortment is fantastic, as is the seasonal fruit crostata. The chocolate hazelnut cake is also nice. Yum! Have fun!

        See also:
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/511304
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/523880
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/522926
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/510725
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/511683

        1. I've found I prefer the pastas to the mains.

          1. There are several threads about what to order at Babbo and how much. Bottom line is whatever you order I am sure you will love it. As far as some people saying the mains are huge I will disagree. While delicious, they really don't come with any side dishes. The pork chop was huge, however it was just the chop with a little miniscule garnish of some kind of veggies underneath. I had the duck which was amazing but once again really no side dish. Not saying this is a bad thing though- It allows you to have room to sample everything else- most notably the pastas and desserts which are both standouts for me. Here are some dishes I will recommend..

            Pasta- Pumpkin Lune and Pappardelle with wild boar were both delicious
            Mains- Pork Chop, Duck, Ribeye for two ( DIdnt have but wish I did after seeing it and hearing so many raves)
            Desserts- Choc hazelnut, almond crostata, pistachio choco semifreddo amazing.

            3 Replies
            1. re: steakrules85

              I agree the mains aren't huge, but the food is so rich I've found it's easy to fill up fast.

              1. re: a_and_w

                Yes by the end of the meal you are busting.

                1. re: steakrules85

                  I don't know -- the lamp chop, pork chop, and steak seem huge to me, especially after the bruschetta, the antipasti, and the primi.

                  If you want sides, just order some contorni, no? I never do at Babbo since there's so much other food to eat! If it comes with something on the side, I expect it to say on the menu.

            2. What we were thinking about doing was 2 app, each getting a pasta and asking for both to be split, 1 secondi, and a dessert for each. Will this be enough?

              7 Replies
              1. re: pastry634

                Plenty, but I would each order your own main and maybe skip one appetizer.

                1. re: steakrules85

                  Yeah, good idea. We were thinking the octopus as our app. My dad hasn't looked at the menu yet for his pasta, but I'm thinking the beef cheek ravioli

                  1. re: pastry634

                    For me, I will actually do more apps than main (i.e. stay like your original with 2 apps, 2 pasta and 1 secondi). I found all the appetizers at Babbo to be amazing and unconventional. Secondi is good but not mind-blowing. The apps impressed me much more (of course the pasta is the main star)

                    1. re: kobetobiko

                      I totally agree -- I'm never as excited about my secondi at Babbo, so the 2 apps, 2 pasta, 1 secondi and dessert plan sounds perfect. And it's more than enough food....

                2. re: pastry634

                  That's totally enough food. I love the apps and pastas there.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Cool. Thanks for your input Kathryn. What did you like about the goose liver ravioli? I'm curious as to the texture of both that and the beef cheek, but I'm afraid getting both would be far too rich. For some reason, I'm imagining a sort of smooth texture.

                    1. re: pastry634

                      Yes - it's not strangely textured in any way. You should note that the ravioli's at Babbo tend to be large and flat. It's not bursting to the seams with filling, which gives it a better pasta to filling balance, I find. It's smooth, and the filling goes really well with the sauce: browned butter and balsamic vinegar.

                3. Hi-

                  My friend & I went there for the first time in March & it was amazing. We sat at the bar which was a lot of fun for us - a lively atmosphere, great service by the bartender. May not be the thing for you & your Dad but we felt it added to the experience for us. The octupus is a fabulous starter - we LOVED it. We tried the beef cheek ravioli & thought it was good but it did not wow us. I did not think it was crazy rich but my friend did think it was quite rich so it is a split decision there. I also LOVED the mint love letters. We each had 1 appetizer, each 1 pasta & split an entree & it was plenty of food. I could have had dessert (but I am a big foodie & was very excited to be at Babbo) but my friend felt with what she had had she could not eat another bite - she was almost overstuffed. Hope this helps - I thought Babbo was as great as what you hear...& its a tough reputation to live up to!

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Judson

                    We've never had anything at Babbo that wasn't very good to excellent. We were there last week and again had a terrific meal. Among some favorites, that seem to be on the menu for a long time, are: the 2 minute calamari, any of the mushroom salads, the beef cheek, goose liver or mint sausage pastas, the lamb chops and the soft shell crabs, when in season. From this board I learned that you can order a dish from the tasting menu, as a "regular" course. I did so and ordered the pappardelle with morels and thyme. It was excellent. Their cheese cake, which looks almost like a soufle, was also outstanding. Study the wine list, it is also terrific. Ask the sommelier for assistance, regardless of the price bottle you are ordering. They enjoy nothing more than giving recommendations. You can tell her your price range, the type of wines you like, and she will find something appropriate, if you want. While the waiters also know the wine list, the sommelier was great to talk to. Have fun.

                    1. re: comiendosiempre

                      Thanks for the tip about ordering from the tasting menu! I love morels, I hope that is on there when I go in a few weeks.

                      1. re: comiendosiempre

                        I will be going next week so I'm working on my plan as well, how did they do the soft shell crab?

                      2. re: Judson

                        Yeah, it will be tough. Oddly enough, I'm very much looking forward to the desserts (an often forgotten part of a meal). I've heard great things, what were some people's favorites?

                        1. re: pastry634

                          The gelato/sorbetti are great. The seasonal fruit crostata is good too. The fruit depends on time of year: could be apples, cherries, etc. I've heard great things about the pinenut version, too, but haven't had the pleasure. I liked the chocolate hazelnut cake, too, but it felt a little more ordinary in comparison.

                          1. re: kathryn

                            Yeah, when I was looking at different blogs on Babbo, I found a blueberry tart-like thing with gelato on top. Fruit desserts seem to be teh way to go, but I have heard great things about both their olive oil gelato and cheesecake...hmmm....

                      3. Just got my reservation in :). I'm very excited, to say the least. One more question. Are the secondi dishes worth it, or should we stick to the pasta? So far, my dad and I were thinking of sharing 2 apps and each getting a dessert. However, for the main courses, should we share 2 pastas and 1 secondi, or should we just skip the secondi and stick with pastas (what I've heard they're known for)?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: pastry634

                          Two apps, two pastas, and one secondi, followed by two desserts is fine. The pastas are great but it's a lot of carbs after a while.

                          1. re: kathryn

                            You can never have too much pasta :). That all being said, batali is also known for his meat preparations. Both the veal and pork chop are outstanding. Never tried the ribeye.

                          2. re: pastry634

                            Pastry,

                            If you have man-sized appetites, you can go with 4 courses. I used to. I would skip dessert if I were skipping anything, or just get 1.
                            I would not skip the secondi, though there are fewer great ones than the primi selection.
                            Of course, that is just based on proper eating instead of the noshing, nibbling, carbing and wondering why you are overweight type of a very typical American eater.
                            I mean, cannot people just keep eating pasta forever?
                            I am not labeling you as one of these. Just saying, the main part of the meal should not be skipped because they are worth it.
                            Honestly, I have never had it but so many people are raving about the ribeye for 2 and though I am not easily swayed by the popular musings, I am tempted in this case. Just a thought.
                            Or there is the tasting menu. You can check that out, I do not know what is on it currently.
                            Should be great, no matter what you choose(well, almost).

                            http://foodonlymatters.wordpress.com/

                          3. You've made a great choice....the food is phenomenal. We go frequently as in once a month and have never been disappointed. The pasta tasting is fabulous for your first time there.But everyone has to participate. You might be better off ordering a pasta or two to share. Especially the one with the half lobster on top. You will never have better lamb chops, skirt steak or branzino anywhere either. Too bad you can't order one of everything. We were there on 5/28 and they had soft shell crabs as one of the specials....the best ever!! As for the wine, order quartinos...this way you get to sample a few. Bon appetito!!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: bac528

                              Thanks for your response, bac! Hearing other people's excitement over it makes me more excited. Being from Middleofnowhere, Wisconsin, Babbo is certainly going to be a highlight of our trip. I was thinking about the Beef Cheek Ravioli (the dish I have by far heard the most about). Would you suggest the pasta tasting instead? I heard you can get the pasta tasting, but sub in and out pastas you would like to try. Does this mean I can customize our tasting? Would you even recommend getting the tasting menu, or just sticking to ordering ala cart?

                              1. re: pastry634

                                Here's a very recent discussion of tasting vs. a la carte:
                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/527074

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Thanks kathryn. You always seem to be just around the corner when it comes to helping me with my NYC trip :)

                            2. this thread has been very helpful and timely since i'll be going to babbo tonight with my bf for the first time for my birthday. one question: most recommend 2 pastas and i'm hearing a lot of votes for the beef cheek and goose liver ravioli; would it be too much ravioli to get both as the 2 pastas, or should i try 2 different types of pasta?
                              thanks!

                              13 Replies
                              1. re: paddlestick101

                                I would say, do not get both due to similarity and it is your first time. A bit of sampling might be in order. But, it is YOUR Bday so if that is what you like, so be it.

                                Happy Bday, enjoy it!

                                http://foodonlymatters.wordpress.com/

                                1. re: foodonlygood

                                  thank you for your suggestions and well wishes :)! so then, if only one, the beef cheek or the goose liver?? or the love letters...hmmm, so many choices!

                                2. re: paddlestick101

                                  Yeah, Paddle, my dad and I were thinking the "strategic" ordering for our pastas :P. We want to try the Beef Cheek ravioli, and for the second pasta, we were thinking the braised oxtail ragu. Not sure though...I'm interested to hear how your trip went! Spare no details and have fun :)

                                  1. re: pastry634

                                    This is not very original, but I think the Lamb's tongue vinaigrette (app) , the mint love letters (pasta) and the sweetbreads (entree) are the best of each course. I wouldn't miss out on these, especially the mint love letters. I love the beef cheek ravioli, but the love letters are ethereal.

                                    1. re: pastry634

                                      when are you going pastry? maybe i'll see you there :)! i will report back with a very full belly i'm sure!

                                      1. re: paddlestick101

                                        I'll be there on the 8th of July (Just made reservations this past Sunday...and yes, I waited til the clock struck 10 am and dialed like a madman). I hope that you have a tremendous time, paddle :)...Its not like I'm jealous or anything...:P...my time will come though. Seriously though, have a great time and don't be afraid to indulge. On a side tirade, I can't tell you how annoying it is to go to a place like Babbo (a special occasion place) and eat with someone who won't try something because it may have too much fat or whatnot. Health problems aside, I always go with the addage "When in ______, eat like a pig." Hey...I'm American... xD

                                        1. re: pastry634

                                          I wanted to thank everyone for their advice on what to order for a first trip to Babbo. My friend and I went last night and had a fantastic dinner!

                                          We took everyone's advice and shared 2 appetizers, 2 pastas, a main course and two desserts. For appetizers, we chose the grilled octopus and crispy pig's foot. The grilled octopus was my least favorite dish of the evening. It was a bit "fishy" with little flavor. The pig's foot was incredibly tasty and unique. For pastas, we chose the beef cheek ravioli and love letters. While the beef cheek was good, it wasn't great. It tasted like pot roast. The love letters, on the other hand, were incredible - just the right amount of spice. For entree, we had the pork chop, which was absolutely the best pork chop I've ever had. This was my favorite dish whereas the love letters were my friend's favorite. For dessert, I had the crostada and my friend the lemon pound cake. While I originally wasn't wowed by the honey ? crostata, it grew on me by the third bite and I recommend it. the lemon pound cake was unmemorable. All in all, it was an excellent meal! I can't wait for my next visit.

                                          By the way, all of this plus a nice bottle of white, came to about $90 each with tip - so reasonable!!! The upstairs was a great atmosphere although with the 100 degree heat, it could have been a little cooler (I saw the thermostat set to 79, which is a bit toasty).

                                          1. re: xtgirl

                                            Thanks for the response, xtgirl! I'm glad you had a great time. Your take on the octopus is interesting, as I hear rave reviews about it all the time. But, to each his/her own, right? :) In terms of the amount of food, did you find that it was too much, just right, or (Lord help me) not enough?

                                            1. re: pastry634

                                              Pastry634, I showed up at Babbo with a good appetite and think this was the perfect amount of food. While I probably could have left satisfied without the desserts, I'm glad that I tried them. I highly recommend ordering the way we did if you are a party of two.

                                              How easy do you think it would be to walk-in as a party of 4 on a Friday or Saturday evening at 5:30? Any suggestions on how early to arrive?

                                              1. re: xtgirl

                                                Haha, want seconds already? :P

                                                1. re: xtgirl

                                                  It is easy to walk in. How long will you wait, depends.
                                                  It seems everyone on these boards says to walk in at 530pm but if there are enough people doing that, the edge is lost.
                                                  Go whenever you are comfortable eating and plan for some wait.
                                                  Sometimes, people line up before they open at 530, not sure you want to be there at 5 and maybe still not be the first seating.

                                                  Glad you had a good meal and good luck sitting again.
                                                  Have to say, I am not wowed by the octopus, either. And I order such a dish often in other places.

                                                  http://foodonlymatters.wordpress.com/

                                                  1. re: foodonlygood

                                                    What 2 apps would you recommend, foodonlygood?

                                                    1. re: pastry634

                                                      Of course, I assume the current menu is similar to what I am looking at online right now.
                                                      The apps seem to be either toward the more adventurous end or the very opposite.
                                                      I will note a few issues about my choices in apps. I do not care to get things that are basically "pre-made", prosciutto, salumi, etc.
                                                      If I can just buy it and slice it myself, I am not so interested in it.
                                                      Do not let that stop you, of course, these are only my(poor) suggestions.
                                                      I would go for pig's foot but I have never had it.
                                                      Also, the sardines but you have to have the taste for it to enjoy it I think. A bit dicey if you are just guessing that you like such items.
                                                      NOW, I do not know if they will have it but contrary to my not ordering items that basically require no prep is the TRECOLORI goat cheese.
                                                      3 scoops of goat cheese rolled in a different spice powder.

                                                      Remember, if you are into salumi and do not get a chance to sample them often, there are multiple choices.

                                                      Sorry that I am not very helpful in answering your question. I hope a couple items just pop off the menu at you and they are great. If I see what is currently on the menu and there is something worthy of note, I will let you know.

                                                      Cheers

                                                      http://foodonlymatters.wordpress.com/

                                    2. My experience last night:
                                      We sat downstairs, and although I expected the random music for a nice restaurant (from other posts), it was refreshingly unpretentious. Plus I was happy I wasn't trapped in the broken air conditionered upstairs (which they said would be fixed by today). The server was nice and mostly just corroborated my pre-researched choices, though she wasn't very decisive in choosing between top contenders. Sommelier knowledgeable and unpretentious.
                                      For 2, we did the CH recommended 2 antipasti, 2 primi, 1 main, 1 dessert:
                                      1-Lamb's tongue vinaigrette- could hardly identify the tongue (which seems to be a good thing)-nice mix of flavors and textures; lightness of vinaigrette a nice contrast from rich flavor of thinly sliced mushroom-looking tongue
                                      2-Pig Foot-very unique, crispy, and flavorful, but got monotonous (to me) after awhile
                                      3-Mint love letters-excellent flavors. if you don't like lamb, i think you'd still like this since the lamb-y taste wasnt strong; however if you don't like mint, it's bursting with mint flavor (which i love); i think the freshness of the mint is also a nice antidote to the rich meat. however, my bf says he doesn't usually like mint, and he enjoyed it. the red sauce was very good and garlic infused tasting. although the love letters are also ravioli, our 2 pasta dishes seemed very different because of such different sauces and flavors.
                                      4-Goose liver ravioli- Divine! basically, wonderfully, foie gras raviolis. so deeply rich and indulgent, with a rich balsamic reduction sticky sauce. i loved the contrast of flavors (again), but my bf thought that the sauce was overpowering the flavor of the goose liver. i loved it though, it was my favorite dish.
                                      5-Sweetbreads-nice light vinegary sauce. i thought the sweetbreads had a nice flavor and texture (soft, not too dense, interesting). sauce was my favorite part of this dish, though i wasn't blown away. i'm now curious what the pork chop would've been like, but i'm glad to have tried some of batali's offal.
                                      6-(seasonal) Honey pine nut crostata- I was disappointed it wasnt the seasonal fresh fruit crostata, but it turned out to be really yummy. caramelized honey and creamy pine nuts with a custardy filling and nice crust.
                                      It was a very nice evening; not the best foodie experience I've ever had, but a very solid, satisfying meal. Enjoy to everyone going soon! :)

                                      29 Replies
                                      1. re: paddlestick101

                                        Very cool. For dessert, I've heard good things about the olive oil gelato and the cheesecake. I'm also tossed on the main entree course. What exactly are sweetbreads?

                                        1. re: pastry634

                                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweetbread
                                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/503809

                                          1. re: pastry634

                                            I am going to chime in and suggest you not order the sweetbreads, especially if you order some of the more "exotic" apps, tongue, pig's foot, etc.
                                            The very traditional meat cuts are probably better, overall, though the sweetbreads are good. If you are not really into the unusual animal parts, try the standards so you do not have something you don't like because you just don't like that type of thing.

                                            http://foodonlymatters.wordpress.com/

                                            1. re: pastry634

                                              Hi pastry634,

                                              I think the lamb's tongue vinaigrette is a must try for first timer because it is delicious and is one of the signature dishes of Babbo. The pig's foot is nice too, as you really can't get similar preparation elsewhere. If you are adventurous enough, I will recommend the testa. Lupa and Otto also have their versions of testa, but in a city highly deprived of testa (Momofuku has veal head terrine which is also great), I get it whenever I see it.

                                              The sweetbreads at Babbo is actually an outstanding preparation, probably one of the best versions you can find along with Craft, more complex than the versions in Jean Georges or Robuchon. However, sweetbreads is one of those things that you either love it or hate it, and some people just can't get through the texture. So if you haven't tried it before, you may want to try other secondi, as there are still plenty of great ones to choose from.

                                              1. re: kobetobiko

                                                What other secondi would you recommend, kobetobiko? I've heard good things about the ribeye and the lamb chop.

                                                1. re: pastry634

                                                  For dessert the choco hazelnut cake with hazelnut gelato, pistachio semifreddo, and almond crostata are awesome.

                                                  1. re: pastry634

                                                    Hi pastry634,

                                                    Sorry that I didn't get to your post until now. For secondi, I have not had the ribeye before (it sounds delicious but also so big that I can't imagine finishing it after all the pasta). Other than the sweetbreads, I have had the duck, the squab, the guinea hen, the quail, the pork chops and the lamb chops. They were all very good, but I won't say that they were the best versions of the ingredients that I had. I think that's the reason why a lot of people said that the primi at Babbo is much better than secondi. Most of the primi are probably the best that you can find in town, not so for the secondi. That said, I think they are still very enjoyable.

                                                    If you are going with your dad, I will suggest one game and one meat. For poultry, I like the duck and the guinea hen. For the meat, I will suggest getting the pork chops. The reason being that for lamb chops, most restaurants manage to make them delicious. There are very few places that make pork chops, especially thick one, juicy and succulent. Babbo happens to be one of them.

                                                    Of course, if you both prefer meat, then go for the ribeye or pork chops!

                                                    1. re: kobetobiko

                                                      No problem on the timing, kobetobiko :). My dad and I were thinking about getting 2 primi's and only one secondi. I think that if we get 2 secondi's, we would be too full for dessert, which is something I am really looking forward to getting. Have you ever had the Branzino? I know its a whole fish, but would they still be able to split it into 2?

                                                2. re: pastry634

                                                  For desserts, while the olive oil gelato is good, you can easily get it at Otto any time of the day. I would choose something else.

                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                    True. On a lot of forum topics, I read about the chocolate hazelnut cake and semifreddo. Those seem to be the most popular

                                                    1. re: kathryn

                                                      What would you suggest for dessert, kathryn (or anyone, for that matter :P)?

                                                      1. re: pastry634

                                                        The seasonal crostata (I think it's pinenut right now, can't remember what it was last time I went but my fiance ate the whole thing without offering me a bite :( but I guess that it was FANTASTIC since he barely came up for air, however, the time before that it was warm apple cinnamon and mmmm...delicious). And the chocolate hazelnut cake is also good. The gelatos and sorbets are also nice. I'm usually so full by the time I get to dessert, I split one with someone else, and right now I'm totally blanking on what else I've tried.

                                                        1. re: kathryn

                                                          The strawberry crostata I had on Saturday night was delicious because it was full of tiny, local strawberries, bursting with flavor. I loved it. Even though our server kept trying to push the cheesecake on me. Next time, next time...

                                                          1. re: kathryn

                                                            Ahhhh! I'm so excited to eat there. I'm going to be there in exactly 2 weeks. I hope the strawberry crostata is still on the menu. By the way, I believe my dad and I are going to go for the pasta tasting menu and substitute in the Beef Cheek Raviolo (Hey, I just have to try it). And, I might politely suggest to have the seasonal crostata as my dessert as well :)

                                                            1. re: kathryn

                                                              By the way, kathryn, how was the strawberry crostata? Was it served with any gelato?
                                                              Also, I know the crostatas change by season. Do you happen to know how long the strawberry crostata will stay "in season?" As I said, I will be there in a couple of weeks, and I wonder if it will still be there...I'm jealous, by the way. I wish I could go to Babbo on the weekends :)

                                                              1. re: pastry634

                                                                Strawberry season *just* started in NYC so I think it will probably be there. It was served with a balsamic zabaione (sabayon) and was delicious.

                                                                1. re: kathryn

                                                                  Oooo...sounds like it would be a refreshing end to a pasta tasting in my future :)

                                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                                    Also, kathryn, what are some of their seasonal specials (if they have any)? I'm going to be there next week, and am very excited to see what they have to offer.

                                                                    1. re: pastry634

                                                                      I just wrote a review of my visit to Babbo. The Crostata was good, but definitely not as good as the Strawberry Rhubarb option being served at Gramercy Tavern Right now. The Rhubarb w/ Strawberry Gelatto at Otto is also better.

                                                                      The Maple Marscapone Cheesecake was damned excellent.

                                                                      Actually, everything at Babbo was incredible. Get the goose liver ravioli. Heck, get that for a main pasta and the Pumpkin Lune for dessert! :-)

                                                                      1. re: uhockey

                                                                        Haha, that sounds tempting, uhockey. Actually, the route my dad and I were thinking about taking was 2 apps, 3 pastas, and 2 desserts (and splitting them all). The cheesecake sounds excellent, but I've heard so much about the crostata...oh, the choices!

                                                                        1. re: uhockey

                                                                          ' Everything at Babbo was incredible ' - this, I beg to disagree!! ( please read my posting on 'dining disappointment...' )

                                                                          Anyway, to re-iterate, 'Fourseasons' and myself had a mini-chowhound meet at Babbo four days ago. Our party ordered almost all of the CH favourites mentioned on this board. Apart from the goose liver ravioli ( thanks in part to its thick and delicious balsamic reduction glaze ), the rest of the pasta dishes including the beef cheek ravioli and the mint love letters were totally unimpressive. Other dissappointments include a dry and overly charred grilled octopus appertizer and an ultra thick battered skin sweetbread that is bland and totally lacking in taste. We too ordered the strawberry crostata. Apart from its very aromatic buttery crust, the dessert on the whole is fairly ordinary. Sad to say, but based on our experiences with Michelin star Italian restaurants outside of Italy, such as Paris' Conti and Sormani and Tokyo's Aso, Honda and Suzuki. All these aforementioned establishments created better tasting and far more impressive dishes and dining experiences.

                                                                          BTW, the menu of Babbo's Las Vegas outpost - B&B Bistro features a lot of Babbo's signature dishes, However, for some unknown reason, the Las Vegas kitchen manage to execute some of the dishes better. Casing point, the LV beef cheek ravioli has more abundant filling and sauce, and the black truffle shavings are far more generous! Go figure?!

                                                                          Should have gone to Del Posto instead???!!!

                                                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                            hi Charles...no, you shouldn't have gone to Del Posto!...i hate to say "i told you so" (from when you were planning your NYC trip) but i think you were/are too fixated on the Batali hype...having a bad meal at Babbo and then considering Del Posto is like going to a used car salesman and buying a bad Buick and then going back next time and thinking the same salesman will be fine as long as he sells you a Cadillac...

                                                                            1. re: Simon

                                                                              Great analogy Simon! Thanks!
                                                                              We actually had reservations for Grammercy Tavern on the same evening but decided to cancel it once we managed to secure our 'odd number occupants' table at Babbo. Should have gone there instead?! Oh well!

                                                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                i haven't been to Gramercy in a long time...i loved it when it first opened and had several stellar meals there, and then (about 6 or so years ago) it seemed to decline a little bit...but i just read a couple great, recent reviews here, and i'd be tempted to try it again...

                                                                                Another option for future trips might be Picholine -- i haven't been there since the renovation/reboot, but i'd imagine that the cheese course is still amazing...

                                                                                For Italian in NY, my personal favorites tend to be more old-school (Il Giglio) or smaller casual places (Cacio e Vino, Malatesta)...i've never been to L'Impero, and that might be one you would enjoy, based on the reviews i've read here...

                                                                                1. re: Simon

                                                                                  Note that L'Impero is currently closed for reservations and will have a name change (Convivium?) when they reopen. Have you been to Alto?

                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                    i have not been to Alto...what is it like?...

                                                                                    1. re: Simon

                                                                                      My report:

                                                                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/443376

                                                                                      And that of another poster:

                                                                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/461578

                                                                                      I've not been to L'Impero, so I can't compare.

                                                                                2. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                  I loved Babbo and was amazed by Grammercy. I wrote reviews of both on here and if I were an NY native I'd attend both as often as financially possible.

                                                                              2. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                I still want to try Babbo - but the Michelin guide to NYC is useless and unreliable, IMO. You might want to try Alto on your next trip.

                                                          2. I didnt read all of the replies... but when i went, we ordered the tasting menu with matching wine pairings. Go Big or go home. Dont think. just eat and enjoy.

                                                            Have fun!

                                                            8 Replies
                                                            1. re: mrl0323

                                                              I was thinking about the pasta tasting menu, but was also interested in the octopus app and beef cheek ravioli, so we may order separately. Did you get the regular tasting menu or pasta, and what were some of the highlights?

                                                              1. re: pastry634

                                                                Based on my experience with the two aforementioned dishes last week, I wish you the best of luck and hope the kitchen doesn't screw up your octopus! Personally, I find the crispy pig's foot a much more delicious and interesting appertizer.

                                                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                  Oooo...I haven't considered that dish, Charles. I guess I can wrap my mind around the taste of octopus, but crispy pig's foot is way out in left field for me. How was the taste? We were thinking about the tripe, or maybe the lambs tongue.

                                                                  1. re: pastry634

                                                                    The crispy pig's foot tasted like crispy 'duck rillette/corn beef'! I was told the pigs foot was first slow cooked to ultra-tenderness then shredded, meat, tendons, skin and all then pressed into terrine form. Its then sliced up and fried to crispness. You will not recognize the product on the plate is actually pig's foot!
                                                                    I wasn't impressed by the lambs tongue at all. The hard to find tiny morsels are tasteless accented only by the tartness of the vinegrette.
                                                                    We considered but pass on the tripe.
                                                                    BTW, I forgot to mentioned that we ordered a special plate of Spaghetti Bolognese for an accompanying kid. That plate of pasta was the tastiest dish that evening! The aroma and taste of the ragu was amazing. Last time I tasted a meat sauce that good was in Italy!

                                                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                      Haha! Looks like I'll order off of the "kid's menu" when I go tonight :P. Yeah. we may do the pig's foot. Despite the mixed reviews, I am very excited for tonight. I remember a month ago to the day, I called to get my dad and I reservations. They are at 5:30, right when they open. I'm not sure, it may be the fact that we come from a little town outside of Milwaukee and don't do this stuff often. Nonetheless, here we come tonight, Babbo :)

                                                                      1. re: pastry634

                                                                        Hello pastry634!
                                                                        Yup! With so many mixed reviews, really looking forward to your review! Have a great time and GOOD LUCK!!

                                                                        1. re: pastry634

                                                                          The pig's foot is excellent. It's more like a flat meat patty that's been breaded and fried to a crisp. You don't really see any "toes" or "ankles" per se. If you're hesitant, talk to your server -- they know the menu really well.

                                                                          I took some folks from Milwaukee last month and they *loved* Babbo -- in fact one of them ordered the pig's foot, the goose liver ravioli, the sweetbreads, and then some gelati. He proclaimed it the best meal he'd ever eaten, and he lives in the Third Ward and eats out *a lot* (loves Bacchus, Hinterland, Crazy Water, The Social, etc.) in Milwaukee and Chicago.

                                                                          Have fun tonight! Save room for dessert!

                                                                          1. re: kathryn

                                                                            Will do guys and gals :). And, of course I will report back to what we thought!
                                                                            And kathryn, yeah, Milwaukee is a pretty good city for food, I just live so far from all the great restaurants that I never get to experience it :/. Anyway, thanks for all of your posts and helping me to this night :)

                                                              2. I am curious, how hard was it for you to get your reservation? I am really scared because I have been reading how hard it is to get the time you want (if it is during peak hrs) Thanks