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Babbo, Vice Versa or Trattoria Trecolori?

  • k

Hi guys. Thanks for helping me out with the steakhouse.
Now I need a great Italian place for the "other" night in Manhattan. As I said in my other post, we are meeting friends from the UK the last weekend in September. We are from Pa.

They have dined all over the world, but oddly enough...have never been to NYC. I would really like it to be special.

I have narrowed it down to Babbo, Vice Versa and Tratorria Trecolori.

I know this is going to sound selfish. My husband and our British friends would probably have a field day at Babbo...but I checked out the menu online and frankly I didn't see very much that I would order. I want to be able to enjoy the dinner too.

Has anyone been to all 3? Also, are the portions a decent size? Husband is not one for fancy food that doesn't fill you.

Any input or other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!


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  1. Vice Versa is very average and over-done and the food is seriously overpriced for what it is. I've never been to Tratorria Trecolori, so I can't help there. But, Babbo is by far one of my favorite restaurants and I can't imagine not finding something there. The papardelle bolognese is so basic but perfectly done, as are all of the meats. The duck is fantastic, if that is something you enjoy.

    1. No contest- Babbo hands down.
      Did you check out the entire menu? i ask, because Babbo has such a wide range- pasta, great fish, beef, pork (something rarely mentionerd, but on one visit I ordered the pork chop - at the suggestion of the waiter- best I ever had) and plenty for vegetarians. So it's hard to imagine you wouldn't find several dishes you'd like.They also have oneof the best wine lists in the city.
      Maybe if you give us an idea of your food favs, we can suggest a Babbo dish.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Ann900

        Hi Ann,
        At the risk of being made fun of...as soon as I saw "rabbit" on the menu, I was turned off. I would just like a place that offers a "happy medium." Something halfway between spaghetti and meatballs and rabbit. If that makes any sense.

        You guys are so helpful. I am becoming addicted to this forum!

        Maybe I'll go back and have another look at their menu.

        1. re: Kimlo

          Hey Kimlo, tourist to tourist, you should definitely take another look at Babbo's menu. Some of the items offered are very basic "normal" food, and the portions of some of the meat dishes are huge (for your husband.) Don't get your heart set on it though, unless you can go on a weekday night, and have 30 days before your res. It's very hard to get reservations.

          don't take this wrong, but if I were your friends who had eaten all over the world and never been to NYC, I would be really upset to get taken to Tratoria Trecolori. Assuming that's the same one I've been to in midtown, it is totally mediocre Italian. I only went there for lunch because I had a time contstraint in the area, and still, it was a big disappointment.

          1. re: Kimlo

            I agree with danna. Although many of the famous items are more adventurous, you can easily make a meal out of the more accessible items on the menu: any of the various salads, the salami plates, tortellini, gnocchi, linguine with clams, fish, lamb chops, pork chops, steak.

            To make a reservation at Babbo:
            - Take a deep breath
            - Realize that you are competing with many other people for the same prime time tables (4 at 8pm on a weekend night)
            - Call at precisely one month in advance to the date, i.e., if you wish to dine September 26, you need to call on August 26.
            - For months with no numerical equivalent, call on the 1st of the month that you wish to dine, i.e., for a reservation on March 31, call on March 1, because there is no February 31
            - Call at precisely 10am
            - Be prepared to hit redial endlessly
            - Be patient and keep trying
            - Be flexible with your dining dates and times
            - Realize that there is always the possibility that someone will cancel, their cancellation policy is that reservations must be confirmed one day in advance
            - Good luck!

            1. re: Kimlo

              <as soon as I saw "rabbit" on the menu, I was turned off.>

              Not making fun, Kimlo, but just because rabbit is on the menu, doesn't mean you have to order it.

              I also vote for Babbo. It is waaay more than just "an Italian restaurant." I think you will LOVE it.

              Try the mint Love Letters..... ;>D

          2. Kimlo, of the three joints you mentioned I've only been to Babbo. I've found the staff to be very accommodating. I'd be willing to bet the kitchen would be more than willing to put something together just for you that's not on the menu. It seems like that kind of place to me. Matter of fact, they'd probably welcome the challenge.

            1 Reply
            1. jfood can only comment on Babbo and TT, night and day. Although TT is good for a pre-theatre meal, Babbo is fantastic. There is no comparison. If you can get a table at Babbo, please go, look at the menu more carefully past the rabbit (BTW - mrs jfood feels the same way) and you will find incredible food. Keep TT for a pre-theatre gotta get in and out sorta meal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jfood

                Agree that VV and TT are not in the same league as Babbo. An alternative: Lupa--less expensive than Babbo with same pedigree.

              2. Has your 'British' friends dined at any of London's Michelin star Italian restaurants such as Assaggi, Zafferana or River Cafe? Comparing Michelin star with Michelin star, IMHO, I found the food and presentation at the aforementioned London restaurants much better than Babbo. Some of Babbo's dishes are good but no way fantastic.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Charles Yu

                  I have no idea if they have dined at those restaurants.

                  I'm not trying to "outdo" any restaurants abroad...just looking for delicious food, good wine and nice, cozy atmosphere.

                  Do you have any favorites in Manhattan??

                  1. re: Kimlo

                    I love Babbo. You will find delicious food and good wine, but it is not exactly a nice, cozy atmosphere if that's what you are looking for. Downstairs is a bit cramped and upstairs has fairly loud rock music. I'm not saying that's bad, it just is what it is.

                  2. re: Charles Yu


                    While I respect your comments and I am sorry about your experience at Babbo, please do notice that Babbo has been consistently serving great food based on years of Manhattan hounds' reviews and feedback (service, on the other hand, may not be as consistent). So to rule a restaurant based on just one experience, esp. on a holiday, may not be very fair IMO.

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      hi charles,

                      deb and i have eaten at river cafe and enjoyed every morsel. table placement was cramped and the restaurant loud but that's a small price to pay for good food.
                      comparing river cafe to babbo? i'll take babbo every time. it's a tad unfair to compare restaurants in two great cities but i have to call it the way i see it.


                    2. I have dined at Babbo and Vice Versa. I completely disagree with the poster above who calls V V average and overpriced. However, I completely agree that Babbo is superior. I assume you are aware of how Babbo's reservation system works, and of the difficulty of getting a reservation, so if you are not successful, I would suggest Alto or Convivio (fka L'Impero) which I would rank equal to Babbo.

                      1. If you have the patience and time to make a reservation at Babbo, DO IT!! Don't hesitate, you'll find something fabulous to eat. The pasta is to die for, especially the Pappardelle with Porcini and Thyme, best pasta dish i've ever had, and very simply prepared.

                        #1 go to Babbo!! Especially if you're bringing foodies...
                        #2 choice would be Trattoria Tricolori, despite what others have said, i've had nothing but good meals here (not as good as Babbo, but very decent) and they have very nice wines to choose from as well.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: rugburn

                          We have been to Trecolori many times. We've never been to Babbo because (1) I refuse to do the reservations tango, and (2) I don't care for the music they play. However, I've read enough about Babbo on this board and elsewhere to say it's like the proverbial comparing apples to oranges.

                          Trecolori serves homestyle Italian fare that is not particularly inventive but always solidly prepared and delicious. And there's no hip music. In fact, no music at all.

                          Anyone going to Trecolori expecting Babbo will, I am sure, be sorely disappointed.

                          1. re: RGR

                            Would it be correct to say that Trecolori is also more "American-style" Italian?

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Yes, MMRuth, I would say Trecolori falls into the Italian/American category.


                              Whatever you call it, it's not music that I like. Actually, I prefer no music at all in restaurants.

                              As much as I like Trecolori, I do agree with you that it's not a destination place.

                              1. re: RGR

                                I'd just add that the music isn't that loud upstairs at Babbo...and it isn't that hard to reserve if you don't mind eating early (or late) and if you don't need a specific day-I've called later in the day and asked what they had available for any day in the next month-it often works.

                                1. re: David W

                                  we eat there a lot. calling later, eating earlier always works for us.
                                  oh, let the record show that the music volume thing is way overblown.

                            2. re: RGR

                              here is some music you would typically hear at Babbo...I wouldnt call it hip (Stones, U2, REM) but more classic rock and roll...I happen to love the music and I think is adds to the already great frenetic vibe at Babbo, Trecolori is good for a bite before Jersey Boys but it is not destination place...


                              1. re: Cpalms

                                I'm one of those that like the music at Babbo, and all other Batali restaurants as they play similar type music, plus I really never thought of them as loud. Having said that, the music is really an afterthought to me especially if I'm enjoying the dishes that's being served.

                          2. Chef June,

                            Regarding the rabbit thing. It's just that I prefer to see them in my yard as opposed to my dinner plate. My mindset is (and I agree it's not a normal one) if they have rabbit in the kitchen...who knows if they are grinding it up and adding it to other dishes??? Yes, I know I am crazy. Do you feel sorry for my husband?

                            That being said...I did call Babbo today only to find out (as another poster said) you can't make a reservation until one month before the actual date.

                            I will try again on August 26 at 10 AM and see what happens.

                            In the meantime I look forward to any other suggestions anyone has.
                            You guys have been so helpful! I love this forum! I realize that food is very subjective...but it still helps a great deal to hear all the different opinions.

                            Thank You!


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Kimlo

                              You're not crazy but you shouldn't worry too much about the rabbit thing, it's common in restaurants. I'd be more worried about the squab, you know you find them in every park in every city of the world... My GF is lethally allergic to any kind of fish and seafood, if we were scared of a spatula touching her food, we'd never eat out.

                              That being said, I went once to Babbo last year and decided to go to NYC last week based on the fact that I was able to get a reservation at Babbo for mext month, that should tell you how much we loved it. The food is excellent, the service attentive and professionnal, the music is not that loud and portion size is more than enough. it truly is a value if you compare what you get in your plate in relation to the price you pay. And the menu is pretty long so no doubt you'll find something you like. The pork chop, for instance, is delicious and big enough for 2.

                              As for reservation, be patient. It took me almost 45 minutes and countless redials to get the line but I got a table at a decent time (6:30) although I would have prefered a bit later.