Babbo vs. Del Posto
My wife and I are visiting NYC in June and were thinking of going to Babbo, but some of the threads I've read on this board don't seem that impressed. Would Del Posto be a better option?
How formal or casual a room do you like? I find the rooms at each to be very, very different. Does a rock'n'roll soundtrack (Babbo) to your meal turn you off?
How casually (or not) do you wish to dress? I find that the room at Del Posto makes me feel like some dressing up is in order. Meanwhile, some people show up to Babbo in a sweatshirt.
How much trouble are you willing to go to to get reservations? Del Posto is on OpenTable; Babbo means lots of redialing at 10am one month in advance to the numerical date.
Del Posto is definitely more of a relaxed meal - huge open room, live piano music, and so on. Babbo is a scene - louder, more crowded.
Del Posto is also more expensive, unless you go for lunch (which, even after the increase, is a great deal).
As for food, this has been my experience: if you do your research, and order well, you can have a better meal at Babbo. They have some amazing dishes. They also have some complete misses.
I've found Del Posto to be more solid overall - I've never had anything there that was outright bad, which I have experienced at Babbo. Everything I've had there was good to great, but nothing truly revelatory.
Babbo IS on Opentable now, though only for certain time slots, and for some reason only for parties of 3 or 4 (though I suspect that last part will change) - so it would depend on what night the OP is dining, and if they're cool with early or late tables, if they have potential dining companions...
All that aside, I think Babbo is the better restaurant, especially if you have an idea what to order beforehand (no lack of threads here on that subject, seems there's a fair amount of agreement among CHers on the standout dishes)
I like Del Posto quite a lot, but it just a "different" kind of meal. There's more formailty, but there's also more in the way of amuses, petit-fours, etc. You're getting something more than just ambience for the extra $$. But like lexismore, I've had fewer "revelatory" dishes at DP than at Babbo, that's for sure - though I've never had anything outright "bad" at Babbo. Some underwhelming things, but not BAD bad... (but there are going to be underwhelming dishes at ANY resto, really...)
I vote for Del Posto over Babbo for the overall experience of a beautiful restaurant, top notch service and wonderful food. If you cannot get a reservation at either though, I suggest you might try Manzo, another Batali/Bastianich restaurant located in Eataly. Here is a great, current review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/844611
And if you cannot get a reservation there for some reason and you really don't mind informal, try eating at the bar there. The bar staff is very educated in all the menu items and very attentive. I love eating at the bar at Manzo.
Its really gonna depend on your expectations of the meal and experience. My buddy *loves* Del Posto, in part due to the pomp and circumstance. Its fine dining with 13 sets of cutlery, proper glassware, high server/patron ratio, captains, wine stewards, etc etc.
To me, this takes some of the fun out of eating (I'm not partial to "fine" dining).
I ate at Del posto 2 weeks ago and while the food was good and properly executed, it wasn't necessarily memorable.
I ate at Babbo 2 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed myself and still remember the food. Its more relaxed and fun (for me).
Menu-wise, Del Posto is restricted to a 5 or 7 course tasting menu at a fixed price ($115/$145pp). Babbo's menu is more traditional offering individual apps, mains, pastas, etc.
So I think if you enjoy yourself in the fine dining milieux, Del Posto might be the choice. If you want a more relaxed (less uptight) evening, Babbo might be the way to go.
Actually, you are not restricted to either a 5-course prix fixe (each guest's choice of a structured menu from the a la carte menu) or a 7-course tasting menu (which is pre-set for all dining) at Del Posto if you are dining as a party of four or less. You can order a la carte, or choose the 5-/7-course options in the dining room or at the bar (which can now accommodate twelve diners). You are only limited to 5-/7-course menus if you are dining as a party of 5-12 people. The website does have an a la carte menu posted but it is not specifically titled as such.
I have also noticed a broad spectrum of attire at both Babbo and Del Posto. While the ambience at Del Posto suggests a more formal dining experience, I have seen jeans and clean sneakers in both restaurants. And often.
I love both but I'm much more of a fan of Babbo's atmosphere than Del Posto's...I find the latter too stuffy and dainty (but if you're looking for a formal atmosphere and the menu appeals to you more at Babbo, there is the upstairs). I also think that Babbo still remains one of the best values in the city, particularly their pasta menu, which I don't think has increased all that substantially in price for a number of years now (someone can correct me if I'm wrong). The only downside of Babbo for me (haven't been in over two years I think) was the maitre'd who to me is a huge jerk. I'm not sure if he's still there. Bald man.