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Is Babbo really that good?

went to babbo about 5 years ago. didn't think it was amazing but there are so many great reviews here on the board. i have a reservation this week to take a friend. wondering if i was wrong the first time or had too high expectations. ate at craft tonight and was very disappointed. i have definitely had much better meals at way cheaper places.
should i give babbo a second chance?
thanks for your help!

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  1. Was just there last night and while we thought it was good, my wife and I both personally feel there is better to be had in the city.

    That being said, the prices certainly are not unreasonable ... I believe around $85 pp (inclusive of tax, tip, and a bottle of wine). Go and enjoy!

    1. Just went to Craft for first time recently-hated it!!! I love Babbos!

      1. Personally, I've never had a bad meal there food-wise. There are definitely criticisms to be made in terms of room/space, noise, service, and difficulty obtaining a reservation. I tend to order very carefully and the menu can be kinda hit or miss. Often, I read a review on CH where someone didn't have a good experience, they ordered a bunch of dishes that I never or rarely order.

        And the check is surprisingly reasonable for a celebrity-chef, 3 NYT-star restaurant in Manhattan. I've spent more on dinner for two at other places and been less satisfied and less full! We tend to do two appetizers, two pastas, a single main that we split, and a dessert or two, for two people.

        7 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          Hi Kathryn, what do you usually order at Babbo?

            1. re: kathryn

              thank you kathryn! still can't decide whether to go to babbo or scarpetta, but either way itll be great, right? :)

              1. re: eviemichael

                Personally I MUCH prefer Scarpetta. Sorry Kathryn!

                There are dishes that i cannot live without there (tomato pasta & polenta) whereas my meal at Babbo was definitely good, but honestly not that memorable. could be because I ordered the wrong dishes but I'm not clamoring to go back

                1. re: kelea

                  Scarpetta leaves Babbo in the dust, both with respect to service (lovely, not a hint of snobbery but very sophisticated) and food. kelea is right on target: the polenta and tomato pasta are unreal. Totally transformative.

          1. re: kathryn

            I was able to snag a reservation at Babbo in Nov., but it's at 6:00 p.m. Wondering if we should just eat way too early and experience Babbo (first time), or cancel and go elsewhere. Any suggestions? Felildia, Lupa, Il Buco, Erminia, Scarpetta???
            Appreciate your experienced feedback...

            1. re: gracegiamo

              Lupa is great IF you can get a res there, or are willing to walk in and wait, but if you want a Babbo-like experience (and IMO, an even better one) just go to Scarpetta or Convivio.

          2. I ate at Babbo a couple of months ago and we had a great meal. My friend said the lamb chops were some of the BEST he has ever had and all my food was great. Service was wonderful and very nice ambiance. Give it a 2nd try.

            1. We just came back from eating our way through the city and ate at some wonderful places, which my husband kept comparing every place to Babbo!!!

              Please give Babbo a second chance, it is worth it and for another place that is not Italian try Public!

              1 Reply
              1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                Kathryn - "Often, I read a review on CH where someone didn't have a good experience, they ordered a bunch of dishes that I never or rarely order."

                I could not agree more....

              2. Babbo is the only well-regarded restaurant I've ever been to where ordering "what sounds/looks good" may be a mistake.

                For some reason, there are things on the menu which are quite ordinary, and you MUST order the dishes recomended by other hounds to have a good experience. <shrug>

                1. I've always liked Babbo, but the standout dishes really are the pastas. I've found the meats to be pretty average. If you like pasta, order the Pasta Tasting menu - it's fantastic!

                  1. I've only been to Babbo once and really liked it. I had both meat and pasta. A friend had gone before and didn't see the charm. But she recently went again for the pasta tasting and loved it. She's converted now.

                    1. A bunch of us dined at Babbo last night. Had a very good meal. We have never had a bad one there. As mentioned, the pastas are the standouts usually and the lamb chops were excellent. Great wine list and the prices are good considering quality, etc. Still one of your best options for Italian food in the city.

                      However . . . .
                      While the maitre'd has always been a bit of a nut job (his name withheld), last night he was beyond. Our reservation was for a quarter past the hour. The first of our group arrived at that time, maybe a few mins before, and he was met with the question:

                      "is your entire group here yet?"
                      "No, but they will be here momentarily."
                      "Well, you do know we can't seat you until you are all here, we hold your table only for a few minutes and your reservation time is a set time, not something that moves around."

                      In any event, we then arrived at about 18-19 minutes after the hour, seriously a few minutes after a quarter past, we too were met with the question: "is everyone here, you can't be seated until you are all here and as soon as you are seated you need to begin to order." One of us went to the bathroom to wash up and we were then told, "your party was unable to be seated because you were in the men's room."

                      I was held back by others from launching into a discourse on courtesy, service, a grace period for your appointed reservation time, the fact that no one was late, that we have eaten in the restaurant well over a dozen times and that he could take his "you must order immediately statement" and shove it.

                      Certainly, the whole experience left a bad taste in our mouths (along with the fact the pasta with white clams now has only about a dozen small manilla clams in it). Will we go back? Likely, because the food is still good, but as someone who works with chefs and others in the food business, this experience was a lesson as to what happens when success goes to your head. Very disappointing.