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Babbo?

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Please help - I'm looking for a very nice place in the village, or surrounding location to take my wife for our 5th anniversary. We'll be coming from the theatre and we both really love the village so I was thinking Babbo, but have never been. I've looked for interior photos but can't find any. We really like rooms with an intimate feel, low lighting, candles, etc. Please understand that we probably get one or two nights away from the kids per year so we really want a nice relaxing and enjoyable location to spend a couple of hours being adults again.

We prefer italian, french or american. No sushi, seafood or mexican. Cost is not a concern.

Can anyone suggest a nice place or remark on Babbo?

Thanks.

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Babbo
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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  1. If you use the Search function on this site you will notice that Babbo is the most reviewed restaurant on this board. You will also notice that reservations must be booked 30 days in advance.

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    Babbo
    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

    16 Replies
    1. re: chow_gal

      90? I've never done that, only one month in advance to the numerical date. i.e., if you wanted to go on December 19, you would book on November 19, etc.

      Here are some interior photos of Babbo's upstairs:
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathryn/...
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathryn/...
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/h-bomb/2...
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/collectm...

      Downstairs:
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulterior...
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiveofto...

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      Babbo
      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      1. re: chow_gal

        Thanks for the correction gal.

        However, I did check with the restaurant and they were very pleasant in advising that I would almost certainly grab a table in the "unreserved" area if we arrived early, which I had planned to do. And you are incorrect about having to book "30 days in advance". Babbo will only begin accepting reservations "up to" one month in advance of the date.

        However, we are not completely sold on babbo which is why I asked for alternative sugestions.

        Those links that kathryn provided focused mainly on the food/what to order and made no mention of the ambience. Perhaps I didn't make myself clear...we aren't necessarily "foodies" searching for the ultimate culinary orgasimic experience. Instead, we are desperately in need of a nice relaxing 2+ hour dining experience for one night away from the kids.

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        Babbo
        110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

        1. re: triplethreat

          If you are in the unreserved area, it will not feel very relaxed because you are in front of the host stand by the bar. There will be people waiting for a table in the main dining area, as well as people trying to get a seat to eat dinner at the bar. And people waiting for the unreserved tables. And also that is where coat check is (which causes its own traffic jams).

          Tables in the unreserved area are at eye level with other people's behinds. It is usually quite crowded. It can be loud and crowded in the front area.

          I like the ambience -- as it feels elegant enough without feeling stuffy or too quiet or proper. But some people don't think it feels upscale enough. They also usually have loud rock music as the sound track.

          When are you coming? This will influence what other alternatives you have.

          1. re: kathryn

            We will be in the city on 12/5 for a 2 o'clock show and probably a 5-6 ish dinner. Sounds like Babbo is out either way because they are booked that night and the unreserved space really doesn't sound very relaxing now that you mention it kathryn.

            I'm all over open table searching for alternatives. OIBL is available but I've been there years ago and although the meal was great, I remember it being somewhat stuffy and perhaps not very relaxing. A comfortable bar area for a pre or post dinner cocktail, nice lighting, quiet, etc is what I'm after. I remember we dined at a moroccan place in the east village (whose name escapes me) a few years back that was completely our style although the cuisine was not. Sorry if this all sounds a bit vague but I have confidence in the chowhound faithful to help guide us to the perfect place.

            1. re: triplethreat

              If you are interested in Italian, Scarpetta is a very enjoyable restaurant. There are plenty of reviews of it on this board (including mine). I found the atmosphere very relaxing without being stuffy. The food is wonderful.

              1. re: ChemWork

                Scarpetta is a good call. There's a very cool, L-shaped seating space on the left as you enter the main dining room, perfect for a couple on a special night out. Insist on it when you make your reservation.

                Modest thoughts: arrive early so you can have a drink at the bar and sample the house-made chips; consider ordering both the creamy polenta app and the spare rib app, combining the two (trust me) and sharing the plate with your wife; ask the wine stew for advice.

                1. re: steve h.

                  SteveH,
                  thanks so much for the info on seating. i called after reading this and this was perfect.
                  Much thanks!

                  1. re: ekdd

                    My pleasure. How was the meal?

                    1. re: steve h.

                      Meal was terrific. We really thought it was very solid all along with the polenta the highlight. The mozarella en carozza was very good as well . The 2 mains for us were black cod and spaghetti basil and both were great, Shared the chocolate dessert and we couldnt finish it all (the outstanding bread basket and spreads to start is dangerous)l With 2 glasses of wine and one cocktail plus 2 cappucinos the bill with tax and tip was 190 $ (listing the total as the web site doesnt list prices ).We took a walk to highline park after and it was a great night!. thanks again

                      1. re: ekdd

                        I'm glad you enjoyed your meal. Lately, Deb and I have taken to eating at the bar where we can cherry-pick whatever looks good on the menu.

                        1. re: steve h.

                          those potato chips at the bar looked good too

              2. re: triplethreat

                Are you OK with comfortable (not super cramped) but a bit on the loud/noisy side? Scarpetta and A Voce are both on the elegant side, modern Italian, but can get rather boisterous when full, so I imagine that noise wouldn't be an issue until the end of your meal. I thought my meal at Scarpetta was just a tiny bit more interesting and delicious.

                Perhaps Alto? Convivo? Locanda Verde (although it is quite popular and will also be noisy because it has lots of mirrors and windows and a tile floor)?

                Also, Danny Meyer (who runs Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, and Eleven Madison Park) just opened Maialino near Gramercy Park. It is brand new, however, and possibly not as upscale/relaxed as you want. And it might also be fully committed that night. I haven't been yet.

                Do keep in mind that some restaurants in NYC are not on OpenTable. And, of the ones that are on Open Table, they do not put all their availability online.

            2. re: triplethreat

              From the first thread I linked, this is what I said about the atmosphere:

              Request to sit on the upper level, where it's more spacious and less noisy. I like my rock'n'roll music but hearing the Pixies or MGMT or They Might Be Giants (so weird!) blast at a nice restaurant is odd even after dining there a few times.

              Arrive on time and with your entire party there. Be prepared for some chaos in the bar area (coat check is the worst-designed coat check ever at Babbo). Smile and be nice to the host. I've heard he can be crabby but he's never been anything but nice to me. Just be aware of where you are standing as people are checking their coats, new folks entering, finished folks exiting, waiters clearing tables, patrons getting up from the bar, people trying to sit at the bar, it can be totally shoulder to shouler!

              1. re: triplethreat

                And thank you for the corrections. If you like OIBL, you will love Tavern on the Green. You should try it!

                1. re: chow_gal

                  Tavern on the Green is only suitable if you want:

                  . truly lousy food
                  . enjoy being treated with disdain, if not outright hostility by some of the nastiest servers in the city
                  . like being ripped off

                  Otherwise, avoid at all costs.
                  Many, many posts on this board will confirm this.

                2. re: triplethreat

                  Frankly, I didn't think it had anywhere near the ambiance you're looking for. We really regretted choosing Babbo for an anniversary celebration. We were in the upstairs room, and found it noisy and not the least "soothing".

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                  Babbo
                  110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

              2. Past threads on Babbo.:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/583928
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/563179
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/543101
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/524042

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                Babbo
                110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                1. The upstirs at Babbo iis a lovely room - I think it would fit the bill as far as ambience.
                  As far as the reservations are concerned you may have misunderstood their policy. Babbo does not take reservations beyond 39 days before the numerical date you wish to dine. While technically that does mean that you could call for a reservations two weeks before you want to go, the reality is that you will find them all booked up. As anyone who has ever eaten at Babbo knows getting reseervations is the most difficult part of eating there- the reservation line opens at 10am and is usually busy until early afternoon- by which time all the tables for the day 30 days out are ooked. I always go there in person to make a reservation.

                  1. don't go to Babbo, its not the right place for you for that night.

                    First of all, you need a reservation. You will be coming in on one of the busiest saturdays of the year and any place you can easily walk into will be frenetic or have crappy food/ service. for next time, most places start taking reservations (like babbo) 30 days out. Its best to make your plans the morning of the 30th day before you plan dine. Second, think Danny Meyer (call the reservationists and beg) meaning either Eleven Madison Park if you want food that leans to the creative side or Gramercy Tavern if you want a bit more traditional american. Both have beautiful rooms, with gracious relaxed service and great food....if it has to be the village try to get a reservation at Little Owl, Blue Hill or Gotham...good luck

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Cpalms

                      FYI I believe most of Danny Meyer's restaurants take reservations starting 28 days in advance. Babbo and the rest of the Batali restaurants take them a one in advance to the numerical date -- which is not always 30 days. Both Batali's and Meyer's restaurants tend to book up the first day reservations are available. Meyer's reservationists, however, are insanely nice and will put you on the waitlist and call you back if availability shows up.

                      Blue Hill and Gotham feel more appropriate to what the OP wants. Neither serve Italian cuisine however.

                      I wouldn't do Little Owl for a special night out on the town -- it's MUCH too casual and cramped even if you do have reservations.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        you are right about the Meyer places being 28 days, I was generalizing to make a point that saturday night reservations in december need to be made as far in advance as possible. In fact I should have known, I made one at Maialino today .....the phone line opens at 9:30 am....

                        Little Owl is a stretch but the OP ( did the OP specifically request italian?) will have trouble anywhere, he needs as many options as he can get....

                      2. re: Cpalms

                        Good call with Gotham Bar and Grill. Great NYC institution IMO. Very underrated and overlooked.

                      3. old thread, but a question for anyone who'll answer: is it completely to go to babbo if you're a vegetarian?

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: sourgirl

                          not quite sure of your question.
                          I believe vegetarians can eat cheese so u can get the goat cheese tortelini and the maple mascarpone cheesecake. which are my two favorite items.

                          1. re: daffyduck

                            ah, I meant to say completely stupid. I was under the impression there were almost no vegetarian items on the menu, but thought there might be a special or something...

                            1. re: sourgirl

                              i dont think its stupid. the sweet potato lune is probably also great. you cna try some of the contornis and the funghi appetizer.

                              1. re: daffyduck

                                I agree on the sweet potato lune. They are fantastic. I strongly urge you to go to Babbo even if you are a vegetarian. There are plenty of great options and pastas.

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                                Babbo
                                110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                              2. re: sourgirl

                                regardless of the veggie issue, don't go to Babbo...

                                for veg/pescaterian food, Quartino (Bleecker St) is a nice, casual place...

                                most Italian places (Scarpetta for upscale-ish, Maialino for moderate/upscale, Cacio e Vino for casual, etc) will have some good veg options...

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                                Babbo
                                110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                                Cacio e Vino
                                80 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

                                Quartino
                                11 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

                                Maialino
                                2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

                                1. re: Simon

                                  Why do you say don't go to Babbo? It's fantastic!

                                  1. re: KateMW

                                    simon has issues.
                                    i like babbo a lot.

                                    1. re: steve h.

                                      Babbo seems to bring out all sorts of different feelings. We had a great meal there and hope to go back this summer when we're in town for U2.

                                      1. re: KateMW

                                        we've been going to babbo for some time. eating at the bar, cherry-picking the menu seems to work now. food? wine?? it's a worthy destination.

                            2. re: sourgirl

                              I'm a vegetarian and I go to Babbo three or four times per year. There are at least half a dozen vegetarian pastas, three to six appetizers, and plenty of veggie sides (some of the sides have meat, but they will usually make without if you ask).

                              Recently they've had a tortelli with savoy cabbage that was very good (the second time I had it, after they perfected it). Most of the veggie pastas have cheese, so if you are vegan Babbo is probably not right for you.

                              By the way, if just want delicious simple honest Italian food more or less as served as in Italy, Babbo is probably not the place. I'm quite partial to I Sodi on Christopher Street, although most of their vegetarian choices have excellent cheese in or on them too.

                              P.S. It's the internet age - you can check out almost any restaurant's menu on Menupages, and Babbo has a menu on their site as well.

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                              Babbo
                              110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                              I Sodi
                              105 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014

                              1. re: DavyTheFatBoy

                                I think Bar Stuzzichini is one of the most underrated and overlooked restaurants in Manhattan. It's beginning to get popular, but if you go early, or sit in the back, it is very quiet and dim... although I trust triplethreat's anniversary dinner has passed....

                                The food is unpretentious and fresh. The pastas are a little hit or miss, but when they're on they're VERY on -- and never overcooked, which is such a common plight.

                                It won't knock your socks off with unusual variety (although they do feature a lot of sardine, and they have spleen sandwich), but the simple and authentic dishes are done very well. And the stuzzichini (Italian small plates) are almost universally delicious and well-done.

                                Oh, and there's rarely a wait, especially on a weeknight. And the drinks are very well done. And it's got a very cool vibe.

                                Isn't simple food and great ingredients supposed to be what Italian food is all about?

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                                Bar Stuzzichini
                                928 Broadway, New York, NY 10010

                                1. re: iprobeattoomuch

                                  We've been going to Bar Stuzzichini since it opened. I agree about the food; it is almost always very good. But...I have NOT ONCE had good service there. Either the wait person is clueless or the food arrives and it's the wrong order. And I mean every time I've been there, which is between 5 and 10 times. Haven't been back for a while though.

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                                  Bar Stuzzichini
                                  928 Broadway, New York, NY 10010

                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                    That's too bad. The service is usually quite good for me, but I tend to go during more quiet hours... so that may be the difference. One time I was sat in an almost invisible corner and it took about 5 minutes to get a glass of water and a menu. But as soon as the hostess spotted us we were tended to.

                                    Never given the wrong order, and the wait staff is actually generally very knowledgeable I find, although I don't usually grill them too hard (but when I have they've been very passionate and full of info). Better luck next time I suppose?

                                    Either way, for the food, the vibes, and the drinks I'd go there if it were "come to the kitchen and get it yourself" service

                                    1. re: iprobeattoomuch

                                      "I'd go there if it were "come to the kitchen and get it yourself" service"

                                      Believe me, I'd rather do that! Most times we've been there is when it was "quiet." We hardly ever go to restaurants at peak times...comes with age I guess. :)

                                      I do like the food enough to try it again soon though.

                            3. Mas farmhouse and Blue Hill fit under the intimate, dim light feeling. Gotham is great but not as intimate. It's really hard to get a reservation at Blue Hill, but the food is really fresh and delicious. I've never been, but One if by land Two if by sea is supposed to be really romantic. Food isn't as great as the others i listed.

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                              Blue Hill
                              75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011