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Babbo - more specific questions. wine + menu.

Hi All!

I've read a fair bit of reviews about Babbo (sorry for posting another question topic) and I think I might try and chance it this Saturday by going to the bar with a friend at 5.30.

We're thinking of

antipasti:
1. Lamb's Tongue
2. Octopus or Pig's Foot (maybe octopus. dining partner not into fried fat [amazingly enough!])

primi:
1. Goose Liver Ravioli - A little reserved about this. Concerned that the sauce may completely overwhelm the ravioli and its stuffing.
2. Beef Cheek Ravioli, Chianti Stained Pappardelle with Wild Boar or Gnocchi

secundi:
Pork chops. I REALLY want sweetbreads, but I'm not sure if it'll be enough to fill both of us up

Dessert:
Sorbet and Gelatos. Hope it won't be lack lustre. May consider the semifreddo.

We're poor in the pocket out of town college kids saving up for a good dinner in NYC, hence our budget is sadly limited (but a few days of potato only meals is worth 1 night at Babbo. Its tough being a poor foodie). Which brings me to the questions.

We're definitely going to end up at the bar without reservations. I was wondering if the bar is limited to wines, or do they also serve cocktails as well?
We do fancy a glass of wine each with our meal, but the wine list at Babbo seems a little pricy.. what would your best suggestion be for this? The cheapest quartino is about 15 dollars a person. :\
Also, if we arrive at 5.15 say, and sit at the bar, we can't order food yet right? Hm maybe should just stick to 5.30.

Also since we have a two dish spot for our primis, I was wondering what other foodies thought about the overwhelmingness of the balasamic butter sauce.

Also about the dessert, how are the serving sizes for the sorbet and gelato, and are they really quite good and worth a taste?

Thanks a lot for any advice you have :)
xx

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  1. My husband and I were there two years ago when visiting from NoCal. We shared the octopus, beef cheek ravioi and the sweetbreads. They had a little amuse/starter of chickpeas. We're in our 60s and don't have the need for large amounts of food and we were satisfied and more than pleased. I think when the quality is high, the quantity doesn't need to be. We started with two glasses of prosecco (husband's birthday) and had a bottle of wine. They were great about not leading us to expensive wine when I just said that wouldn't be what we wanted. If memory serves me, the dinner was $150. Not what we spend eating out regularly but SO worth it in our opinions. Re desserts and specific wine questions, I'll defer to others. Have a great time.

    1. With two appetizers, two pastas, and the sweetbreads, and dessert, I'm typically stuffed by the end of the meal.

      They do have a liquor license and serve cocktails at Babbo. I would arrive earlier than 5pm and grab a seat as soon as the bar opens, and just wait the extra time out with a drink. If you don't, and you find all the walk-in tables and entire bar full, you'll need to wait for other people to vacate.

      You can easily split a quartino between two people if you don't mind the smaller amount (it's about a glass and a half). You don't need to order one quartino per person.

      Here's a photo of the sorbet/gelato sampling, I think it's quite good, as are the other desserts I've tried:
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/ultrateg...

      1. The pig's foot is one of my favorite dishes at babbo- full of flavor and not greasy. I too, love sweetbreads,-at Babbo I've had both the sweetbreads and the pork chop, and while the sweetbreads are good, the pork chop is amazing- so given the choice, I'd go for the pork. If you each get a pasta dish, I think you can easily split the pork chop- it's enormous.

        1. Thanks for answering the questions.

          Yes that crispy pork feet is looking to be brighter by the minute. If my friend gets all anti-grease I'll just have to eat it all by myself. Yum.

          Thanks also for the sorbet photo and bar advice. Kathryn- love your extended Babbo recommendations and posts :)

          1. FWIW, I found the balsamic-based sauce did completely overwhelm the goose liver ravioli. It was FAR TOO BITTER for me. In fact, I would go as far as to say it ruined the dish for me.

            1. I've only been to Babbo once but I liked the octupus better than the long's tongue. And the sauce it's in did not taste fatty. I think you'll be fine with 2 appetizers and 2 pastas a main and dessert. Especially if you get the beef cheek ravioli (it's pretty rich). I thought the balsamic butter did overwhelme the ravioli, but i thought the sauce was delicious. Although there bread is crappy feel free to dunk it in their sauces if you are afraid of not being full. The appetizers are also pretty big, so if you want to get more bang for your buck maybe you should order 3 appetizers (they are almost entree sized).
              I wouldn't order gelato and sorbets, you can go to Otto for that. I highly highly recommend you order the maple cheesecake. I don't know why it doesn't seem to be very popular here on chowhound, i almost cried when i finished the dessert. I spoke to the waiter about the maple cheesecake and he said that it won some food magazine's dessert of the year last year. it is ridculous!
              i don't really dine at Babbo often so I don't know it. But I know it's one of the most popular dining spots in the city. you'd probably have more luck getting seats on a weekday. But hopefully getting there a little earlier will seal the deal.
              p.s. I'm also a college student and i know exactly what you mean about potato meals.

              1. I've read several comments referring to some solid bottles for $40 - $50 on Babbo's wine list. Would anyone care to offer up some specific suggestions on some of these good, cheaper reds and whites?

                -----
                Babbo
                110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                1 Reply
                1. re: Telstar

                  I don't remember what we had but I told the sommelier that was the range I was looking for and she picked something that we enjoyed a lot. And I didn't have to ask for her; it was just part of the dining routine there, at the time anyway.

                2. Some modest thoughts:
                  • Queue up a little before 5 p.m.
                  • Shoot for the the two bar seats on the short-side of the bar as you walk in (your back will be to the window and Waverly Place.
                  • The bartender is your friend. Ask him to pair a bottle with your meal. Be clear on your price point. It's the most cost-effective way to go.
                  • Share your plates with each other. One pasta dish is a must.
                  • Skip dessert. An espresso is a fine way to end the meal.

                  Babbo doesn't have to be expensive. Order wisely, share your plates, trust the bartender. You'll be back.

                  -----
                  Babbo
                  110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: steve h.

                    "Babbo doesn't have to be expensive. Order wisely, share your plates, trust the bartender."

                    ABSOLUTELY! We always share anyway cause we love to taste more things.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I really like sitting at the bar. I know the menu pretty well and this gives me a chance to cherry-pick the good stuff without the fuss-and-muss of the dining rooms. Mario would approve.

                      1. re: steve h.

                        We've only eaten there once, three years ago this month, for Bob's birthday. It's one of my favorite food memories. It exceeded our expectations. And for what we had, not expensive at all. (Bob's a frugal Scotsman so he has his limits.) Good work re the Peking Duck :)

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Batali has another shop in the Village. Lupa is low-key, modest in size and inviting. Been going there since it opened. I like to pop in for lunch, grab a two-top for myself by the window in the bar, order the salumi platter and a cheap Tocai Friulano (Scarbolo). You and Bob would like this place. Be aware you might be forced to purchase a Bastianach Friulano but that's the price of poker. It's not fancy.

                          Back at you on the Peking duck thing. Well played.

                          edited to add: the bucatini all'amatriciana is outstanding.

                          -----
                          Lupa
                          170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

                          1. re: steve h.

                            We're hoping to be back in the next six months. Will check out Lupa. We tend more for lunch out than dinner. My doctor liked Otto but haven't been there either. Can't imagine a Batali place that I wouldn't love.

                            -----
                            Lupa
                            170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Otto is a restaurant that resides on the ground floor of the coolest high-rise in Greenwich Village.
                              One Fifth (Avenue) is historically significant. Otto, on the other hand, is a bit of a mashup. Otto, in the front of the house, has a great wine bar. I love sitting at the bar, reading the FT and drinking whatever the barkeep recommends while waiting for Deb to pop over. Small plates (salumi, cheeses) are excellent. Pizzas and pastas are ok but nothing special. The gelato is very good. A conceit I share with some other folk is showing up early Sunday afternoon with a copy of the Times. Show up early and get out of Dodge before the moms with the double-wides arrive. You've been warned.

                              1. re: steve h.

                                Fair warning. We used to live in Noe Valley in SF so I know about double-wides. I'm so jealous of y'all who have Manhattan nearby.

                    2. re: steve h.

                      I agree. but why skip dessert? I think Babbo has good desserts.

                      -----
                      Babbo
                      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                      1. re: daffyduck

                        They do. I just never have room for them.

                    3. The meal during my last visit was only borderline acceptable with quite a few cooking mistakes!!
                      Two stand outs were 'over-charred' octopus' ( Any decent Greek restaurants can do a better job ) and ' soggy ' sweetbread with bland sauces! We also tried most of the aforementioned dishes. OK, nothing to shout about! Surprisingly, the most delicious dish was the Spaghetti a la Bolognese ordered by my foodie friend for his kids!!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        I sincerely hope that you sent back the octopus and the sweetbreads and either had them replaced or got differents dishes. Those were two of our favorites.

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          Yes and you made your opinions very well known in your previous posting.

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/535368

                          Let's not rehash this again...