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Feb 23, 2010 07:00 AM

Babbo or Convivio...? Help me decide.

Okay, truth be told, I'm presently double-booked. I made the reservation at Babbo because I could -- it just so happened that the day I began thinking about where to take my daughter for an after-theater birthday dinner was exactly one month before the date of our theater tickets. I went to Babbo's website, saw they take reservations not more than one month out, phoned, and voila -- scored a reservation. FWIW, I'm an out-of-towner, I come to NYC maybe 6 times a year. My daughter lives in NYC. Neither of these are restaurants she'd go to on her own.

So, with my reservation secured, I began scouring CH for recent comments about Babbo. Although I found them to be generally positive, there were some mentions of a slippage in service and food quality. Then, this morning, I read a review of Convivio posted by steakrules85. I also saw Convivio recommended by quite a few posters in other threads. I quickly made a reservation at Convivio for the same evening as my Babbo reservation. Oh, I'll definitely cancel one or the other in plenty of time; the question is, which one to cancel?

I've never been to either of these restaurants. I've tried to get into Babbo several times, to no avail, primarily because I rarely plan my trips into NYC a month in advance. Before today, I'd never heard of Convivio. I do understand the two restaurants are quite different from each other.

The "celebrity" aspect of the experience is far less important to me than the quality of the food and service, and the overall dining experience. So, if you were me, given the choice of Babbo or Convivio for this particular evening, which one would you choose -- and why? Thanks!

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  1. Babbo. Probably easier to get to Convivio on another visit.

    1. ive always felt that batali restaurants are horribly overrated. babbo specifically should work but doesnt. the quality is not there...particularly years later as more and more high end italian places open in the city.

      the food at convivio is miles better and of higher quality than babbo. if i could get the food and service of convivio served in the babbo townhouse, then that would be ideal...

      1. Hi Cindy,
        I think Babbo is superb. I have to disagree with the negative post below. Some are bothered by the fact that while Babbo is indeed high end, it is also loud, a bit chaotic and the food quite rustic. Not a whole lot of fancy garnishes or small amounts of food served on huge plates or anything like that. It's hearty and I think the flavors are amazing. I also think it's one of the best wine lists in the city and I've never left there without learning a lot about Italian wine as they have lots of offerings from even the lesser known regions of Italy.

        Have fun. You can't go wrong either way but I would go to Babbo. You'll have a blast.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JeremyEG

          While downstairs at Babbo can be quite loud and chaotic-especially if you're anywhere near the bar- the upstairs is actually pretty quiet and not at all chaotic. So if you think you'll be bothered by the scene downstairs call mid to late afternoon one day (when it's easy to get through) and request you be seated upstairs.

        2. Babbo for sure. And I am not a Mario devotee by far. I just like his food and couldn't care less if I ever saw him there (or anywhere else for that matter). I agree with what JeremyEG says: it's not pretentious food by far. Just very good, quality food served like it should be. Thumbs up to Babbo!

          1. Babbo, easily. The execution are more true-to-traditon, imho.

            I like Convivio, but would easily recomend Babbo in your case.