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My birthday at Babbo(Very long)

f
Funman321 Dec 20, 2010 08:37 AM

I know, its passed too late for another babbo review, but a bunch of people on this board helped out so...here goes nothing. Me and my girlfriend went to babbo for the first time last night. A HUGE fan of batali and having read Heat multiple times, I had high expectations for the experience and i would say they were met by some dishes and exceeded by others.

I'll start by mentioning that our service was nothing short of flawless, silverware was replaced throughout the meal, napkins refolded, timing of courses was perfect, and our server was very personable and added his own recommendations without hesitation.

Antipasti- Great, but not unforgettable

Warm Lamb’s Tongue Vinaigrette
with Brown Beech Mushrooms and a 3-Minute Egg- This was our first dish and was a pleasant start. A soft poached egg(could have been a tad overcooked, did not "run" as much as we'd hoped) topped the texturally deceptive Mushrooms and pieces of Tongue. The overarching flavor of the dish was, however, a strong vinegar without a doubt, but not strong enough to overshadow the other components of the dish. I'd reccommend it for fans of the ingredients and the balsamic taste, but not for everyone. 8.5/10

Armandino’s Salumi
Finocchiona and Lamb Prosciutto- 5 thin slices each of Fennel salami and a light prosciutto. The salami was powered with the flavor of fennel and was quite tasty, the prosciutto was mostly a textural wonder with delicate slices coming apart in the mouth and melting on the tongue. The meats were served with a black pepper olive oil toast which added a little variety and playful element to the plate. This dish was very good and a small portion; which was great for us but may disappoint those looking for a huge plate of meats. 9/10

Pasta-Best of all time?

Gnocchi
with Braised Oxtail- A big fan of gnocchi, I was most apprehensive about how this dish would go over. The gnocchi were incredibly soft and I was caught off guard, having expected dense gnocchi given the dishes name and its pairing with the thick ragu. All in all, the ragu was meaty and delectable and the gnocchi were toothsome but i feel like the dish succeeded much more in its individual components then as a whole. 8.5/10

Goose Liver Ravioli
with Balsamic Vinegar and Brown Butter- Okay, so I'ved heard everything about this dish from "It's the best ever" to, "Might as well be Easy-mac pasta bathed in a bottle of balsamic." I am most DEFINITELY in the "best ever" camp. Yes, this dish IS only for fans of balsamic sauces; Yes, it is VERY heavy; Yes, IT IS AMAZING. The sauce is very sweet and heavy, but the ravioli were cooked perfectly and the filling stood on its own as incredibly rich and creamy. Take it in its pieces or all at once, It is my favorite pasta dish at the moment and completely lived up to any hype. 10(11)/10.

Secondi- Damned good choice

Braised Pigs Cheeks with Apple Cider vinegar and an assortment of vegetables(special, unsure of exact components)

Perfectly cooked pork that fell apart when cut with a fork topped with crisp cucumber and carrots over an assortment of what i can only guess to be a mixture of fruits and braised cabbage. This dish wow'ed us both with the texture and taste of the pork and its undertones of autumn. I would say its a "Can't miss" but then we saw the sweetbreads, duck, osso bucco, and Steak for two pass by the table. Ignoring my indecisive nature when it comes to meat, this was a very very good dish. 10/10

Dessert- YES

Cranberry Crostata
in Polenta Crust with Ricotta Gelato and Creamy Caramel- Picture, if you will, perfectly caramelized cranberries mixed in a buttery filling inside the best pie crust you've ever tasted. Now pair it with perfectly textured and flawlessly creamy gelato. Can't recommend enough, and i normally HATE cranberries. 10/10

Pistachio and Chocolate Semifreddo- Only way i can describe it is an ice cream cake with the very essence of pistachio covered in an incredibly dark chocolate ganache. The texture of this dish is such that every time you ever have an ice cream cake after this dish, you will be expecting this texture(and be sorely disappointed)10/10

At this point, we splurged
Assortment of Gelati and Sorbetti
Espresso-Easily the worst of the group if only for my distaste to coffee, excellently textured nontheless 8/10
Chocolate- The darkest, most dense sorbet I have ever tasted 10/10
Olive Oil- Enough has been said, its like they are playing a trick on your tastebuds 10/10
Quince/Green Apple/Grape-Each was the very essence of their respective fruits 10/10
Salted Hazelnut-Very creamy and decadent with just a spike of Salt 10/10

All in all, an amazing experience. Highly recommended.

  1. s
    sheio Jan 3, 2011 02:59 PM

    I had dinner for the third time at Babbo last night and can't say I'll rush back given the prices and relative hassle of reservations. My first dinner was the pasta tasting with wine pairing, which I enjoyed immensely, but the wine pairing left me pretty tipsy. Both second and third dinners were a la carte and I managed to order most of the board favorites. Last night we were off to a great start with the lamb's tongue and pig's foot appetizers, both incredibly well-balanced and nicely paired by our server with a quartino of Kerner. The maccheroni alla chitarra with bottarga was next, and I very much enjoyed the fishy crunch of the bottarga with the sun dried tomatoes liberally distributed throughout the perfectly al dente pasta. The mint love letters followed and were slightly disappointing, as we were hoping more of the spicy lamb sausage would come through and the mint made the pasta rather one-note. We finished with the sweetbreads, which came with perfectly crispy exteriors, but I didn't want more than one. I wish I'd saved room for dessert, but next time I'm craving Italian I'm heading back to Lupa!

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    Lupa
    170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

    Babbo
    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

    1. u
      Uncle Luigi Jan 3, 2011 08:10 AM

      Nice review!

      I too have had several amazing meals at Babbo! My wife and I had the Pasta Tasting, with wine, the first time. Maybe the best meal of my life. At the time, they were rinsing out the glasses with my wine, prior to pouring. (I still would have loved an extra ml of wine, even if it did have trace amounts of cascade.) Then several times at the bar by myself or with co-workers. It feels like you are cheating a bit... getting that amazing food, without enduring/enjoying amazing service.

      Luigi

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      Babbo
      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      1. bermudagourmetgoddess Jan 3, 2011 07:25 AM

        It took me awhile to finally get a reservation, however my husband and did score one on our last trip NYC and Funman I second that the Goose Liver Ravioli ranks as the BEST i have ever had also...I had the beef cheeks ravioli and my husband had the goose liver after trying his I ordered my own plate...he wouldn't share ;)

        Matter of fact nothing has come close to it...it is the one pasta dish I will never forget !!

        Happy Birthday!

        4 Replies
        1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess
          s
          steakrules85 Jan 3, 2011 07:39 AM

          Asked this question in another thread... Can you describe why you liked the goose liver ravioli so much? Seems like people either love it or hate it and no in between lol.

          Is the sauce more sweet than bitter like most balsamic based sauces? What about the Beef Cheek? More muted and run of the mill in comparison?

          1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess
            TheDegustationAsian Jan 3, 2011 07:59 AM

            Wanted to write a quick report of the dinner I had last night. As I've mentioned above, a month ago yesterday, I walked into the restaurant around 9:50 and got a reservation no problem. As most of you already know, the bar/check in area is a bit hectic, but we were immediately led to our table upstairs, which I prefer since its a bit quieter. Having already done the tasting menus, we went a la carte to hit most of the classics which aren't on either menu.

            Started with two Antipasti:

            Grilled Octopus
            with “Borlotti Marinati” and Spicy Limoncello Vinaigrette - was just OK. The octopus was a bit fishy and not as tender as I'd like it to be. That said, it was nice and meaty and I did enjoy the char it had from being grilled.

            Pig Foot “Milanese”
            with Rice Beans and Arugula - hands down, the favorite between the two. The foot was super thin, crispy and perfect with the arugula and lemon salad. I really liked how the acid helped cut the fatty goodness that is pigs foot and appreciated the different textures on the plate.

            Primi:

            Beef Cheek Ravioli
            with Crushed Squab Liver and Black Truffles - I'm really ashamed I waited so long to get this dish. I knew we were only going to order two pastas so I couldn't get them all, but I really enjoyed this dish. As I ate the dish the flavors came in different waves. First was the pasta, a bit al dente for a filled pasta like a ravioli but very good. Next was the richness from the liver and finally the black truffle...To be quite honest, this dish was actually not as heavy as I imagined and liked it better than the duck and foie pasta at Scarpetta.

            Black Spaghetti
            with Rock Shrimp, Spicy Salami Calabrese and Green Chiles - this was my favorite pasta of the night, and was served in a HUGE portion. Perfectly al dente pasta with bits of salami, a small kick from the chili and wonderfully cooked rock shrimp. Texturally, the salumi provided some crispy bits, the pasta was nice and toothsome, the shrimp were tender. A really great dish.

            Secondi:

            Grilled Pork Chop
            with Cherry Peppers, Cipolline and Aceto Manodori - we were a little worried about the size of this dish as other hounds have stated it was massive. I found it to be large, but nothing caveman-esque, but after one bite I totally understand why this dish gets so much praise on these boards. Drizzled with some aged balsamic, the incredibly moist chop was perfect with the acidity from the peppers and onions.

            Fennel Dusted Sweetbreads
            with Sweet and Sour Onions, Duck Bacon and Membrillo Vinaigrette - I'm a huge sweetbread fan, and these were very good. First, I need to say that if the size of any secondi shocked us, it was this dish. These were MASSIVE...moving on, the sweetbreads weren't chalky at all, and had a nice crisp crust, but were thick enough where it didn't mask their flavor.

            Dolci:

            Cranberry Crostata
            in Polenta Crust with Ricotta Gelato and Creamy Caramel - wonderful, at least I thought so. My GF thought it was too tart. The crostata had a nice buttery crust and the cranberries were tart and just incredible with the creamy ricotta gelato and gooey puddle of caramel.

            Saffron Panna Cotta
            with Quince, Pink Peppercorn and Quince Sorbetto - GF loves panna cotta and we've had some really nice ones here in the past. This wasn't her favorite. The panna cotta itself was very good, really smooth and not gelatinous, but she didn't love the quince...

            Overall, another solid meal at Babbo. While its not the "best" (whatever that means) Italian restaurant in NYC, its always dependable.

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

            Scarpetta
            355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

            1. re: TheDegustationAsian
              k
              kathryn Jan 3, 2011 12:19 PM

              Great report!

              1. re: kathryn
                TheDegustationAsian Jan 3, 2011 12:28 PM

                Thanks kathryn, your reports really helped us decide which dishes to try. Must try the Goose Liver Ravioli and Pumpkin Lune on my next visit! The day after and I'm already planning my next visit, haha.

          2. ellenost Dec 20, 2010 03:55 PM

            Great report. I've never been to Babbo, but I'm hearing great things so I may brave their reservation system (harder than Ko or Per Se from what I hear).

            5 Replies
            1. re: ellenost
              f
              Funman321 Dec 21, 2010 08:52 AM

              Quite to the contrary, its much much easier. Don't get me wrong, I dialed in at 10:00 am exactly one month ahead and didn't through until 10:20, but we got the earliest reservation possible on Sunday which worked out perfectly.

              1. re: Funman321
                g
                gutsofsteel Dec 21, 2010 08:59 AM

                Yeah, but try to get a table on a Thu, Fri or sat Between 7 - 9.

              2. re: ellenost
                TheDegustationAsian Dec 21, 2010 12:54 PM

                Most likely doesn't apply, but if you happen to have the morning off then there's always the option of making the reservation in person slightly before 10 am. I've been able to do that twice for prime reservations (8 pm on Sat). Much easier than the constant redialing.

                1. re: ellenost
                  s
                  steakrules85 Jan 3, 2011 07:16 AM

                  Ellen you definitely should go to Babbo. As an avid foodie, I know you would love it and it is definitely a "must eat" in New York. It is by far Batali's best restaurant without a shadow of a doubt.

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                  Babbo
                  110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                  1. re: ellenost
                    k
                    kathryn Jan 3, 2011 12:18 PM

                    It's actually very easy. Get there at 9:45am on a Saturday, an grab a table for one month later to the numerical date. They take reservations in person every day of the week, too.

                  2. r
                    Riverman500 Dec 20, 2010 12:17 PM

                    Great review. I've been to Babbo many times but have not tried any of the dishes you mentioned, except for the excellent chocolate sorbet. I should definitely make another reservation soon.

                    Happy Birthday!

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                    Babbo
                    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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