Babbo - Service and Menu Question
My wife and I have a reservation at Babbo next month. We are very excited! But here's my issue. My wife is a veggetarian, and not the biggest eater in the world. Also, not really a drinker. We'll probably order 2 apps, 2 primis and a contorni, and instead of a bottle of wine we'll share a 1/4 litre. That seems to be a lot less than most people order -- I've been reading on CH that parties of two order multiple apps, primis and secondis! So my question is will I leave hungry (seems unlikely, no?)? And, will the wait staff be a bit irritated since our check will probably be much smaller than their other tables.
Thanks for your help!
If your wife is a small eater than it should be enough food for the both of you.
I've never seen it myself but a good friend of mine ate at Babbo with a party of 4 and they ordered no wine or liquor of any sort and reported to me that the waiter was definitely miffed.
I can't remember where each fell on the menu, but we ordered the grilled octopus with a little frisee and something salad, the beef cheek ravioli and the sweetbreads. We started with a glass of prosecco (birthday celebration) and a moderate bottle of wine. And, of course, the little plate of garbanzo bruschetta. It was plenty of food for us (probably because there was so much flavor in each thing) and the service was perfect.
Hey I have actually gone to Babbo twice in the past few months, and one of the visits was about a month ago so it is still fresh in my mind. I did some heavy chowhound searching for both trips to figure out what others had recommended and could summarize them, but it would include a lot of non vegetarian dishes and wouldn't be as helpful for you ( unless your just curious and I will gladly elaborate haha).
I think one important tip to know is that you can order pastas off of the tasting menu that are not listed in the primi area and hopefully that will give you a few more options. As far as ordering two apps goes I think you would be happier ordering another primi in the place of one of the apps because the most recommended apps are the octopus, lamb's tongue, and pigs foot and everything else isn't too remarkable.
As far as primi's, the best vegetarian would be the Pumpkin Lune and it was surprisingly one of the top two primi favorites among both groups of friends that I went to Babbo with (both were tables of 6 so we tried a good amount of dishes). Another dish, the garganelli with funghi trifolati is a good but simple dish, the mushrooms have a great flavor but the sauce is a mild butter sauce I believe. I wasn't sure if your wife was a very strict vegetarian or not, but if seafood is ok the spaghettini with the lobster was very good. The Maccheroni alla chitarra may be another option but it has Bottarga di Muggine in it which is pretty much like caviar and I have heard the Domingo's Pyramids off of the tasting menu are good, but I have not had them and am not sure if they contain any meat. The rapini 'broccoli rabe' is good as are the brussel sprouts if you like those veggies. Hope this helps.
First, don't worry about the service. It will be good, or if not, it is not your fault. Don't sweat it. Get a 1/4 litre if you want. Or a glass each. Whatever works.
Second, my gf is vegetarian and eats very well at Babbo. I am not veg, but like (love) many of her favorites
- antipasti: roasted beat tartare is good (not great), asparagus with poached egg special, if they have it (great)
- primi: goat cheese tortellini (excellent), pumpkin lune (very good)
I think 1app and 1 primi and 1/2 a cotonri will be enough for your wife, but I'm guessing not for you. I'd get 3 primi, even if one is not vegetarian. You won't be upset.
If i remember correctly, my husband and i ordered 1 app, 2 primis, and 1 secondi plus dessert and were STUFFED. It was so much food that we couldn't finish it. We didn't order a bottle of wine, but we might have ordered a glass each. I don't think the wait staff has a right to be irritated since you are ordering however much food you think will fill you up. If they get snippy, it's their problem, not yours.
I'm not a fan of Babbo, but i'm sure you'll be fine on both counts...
If you think you might still hungry you can always order an extra appetizer...
As for the possible moderate-wine/miffed-waiter issue...it could happen but if it does, enjoy your meal, and then a) don't tip or tip low, depending on how poorly your server acted, and b) write a letter to the management mentioning the waiter's name...it's your right to drink or not drink anything you want when you go out to eat, and anyone who gives you attitude about it should not be working at a top restaurant...
Richard, I agree with Simon. It's your fucking money. Order what you damned please, and if the waiter is pissed, that's his fucking fault and he should be penalized if he gives you any attitude. Pardon my, um, Italian. And by the way, I had a great experience the one time I was at Babbo so far, so my rant isn't at their expense.
My suggestion on ordering is for you to order conservatively in terms of amount. You can always order a secondo if you are feeling hungry after your antipasti and primi orders. (Off-topic, but I can't help but give parenthetical vent to my pet peeve: Primo is the singular, primi the plural, and the same with secondo/secondi and contorno/contorni. There is no such word as "primis.")
My mom and I were there recently and had terrific service even though we didn't order a lot and shared a quartino. I wouldn't worry about it. I would avoid the grilled octupus and beef cheek ravioli- neither were anything to write home about. Lamb's brain w/ poached egg was interesting and pig's foot was very tasty.
Just a note -- I drop into Babbo frequently on late week nights and usually snag a table up front. Just to note, the wines by the glass are served in a carafe and are really generous. I would say typical is one app, two pastas and two apps. The pastas are really rich, though if you go with a ravioli they tend to be smaller portions. Agreed, service is pretty good.
My wife and I are back from New York -- thanks for all your advice! I figured I'd provide a brief review of our meal.
Our reservation was at 5:45pm (it was either that or 10:30) and we arrived exactly on time. Good thing, too, as there was a couple in front of us that were late for their 5:30 reservation and were told that they lost their chance and would not be seated!
Since my wife is a vegetarian and not as big an eater as me, I started with the pig foot, which was quite good and very interesting. I really didn't know what to expect, and the best way I was able to describe it was that it's like a piggy potato latke. Definately not the most amazing thing I've ever eaten, but still good and it gets high marks just because it was so unique.
We then shared the goat cheese tortalloni. It was fantastic! The orange peel and fennel pollen worked so well with it and I was sad when we had polished off the plate.
Next I had the goose liver ravioli, and my wife had the garganelli with mushrooms. As most people on this board seem to already know, the raviloi was delicious and so rich. The garganelli was also delicious, with each piece of pasta infused with mushroom flavor.
Finally, we shared the maple cheesecake which was surprisingly fantastic. It was so light and airy that it had the consistency of a creme caramel. Amazing.
As for the service, it was perfect. Attentive and friendly, but not overbearing, and very knowledgable and helpful.
Anyhow, a perfect dinner! Can't wait to go back!!