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Mario Batali opening a restaurant in Boston?

Mario Batali has tweeted that he's opening Babbopizzeria in Boston "very soon":

https://twitter.com/Mariobatali/statu...

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    1. According to Boston Restaurant Talk,,, he "could be opening in the Fort Point neighborhood or the Seaport District. "

      http://bostonrestaurants.blogspot.com...

      I'm thrilled too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gio

        THE hottest new 'hood in the city!

      2. The paper reported an address on Summer st today. By Pappagayo.

        1. Aaaah yes, another rock star chef over extending himself...

          1. Probably a form of Mozza which he is expanding on the West Coast.

            11 Replies
            1. re: treb

              treb, it appears that it will actually be another location of OTTO, though he may be calling it Babbo to avoid (further) conflict with the Otto folks in Portland, Brookline, and Cambridge.

              1. re: hiddenboston

                yep...he definitely renamed it for that reason.

                There was a hilarious article on Serious Eats about it...apparently, the local Otto folks' logo looks realllllly similar to Batali's Otto's logo. It's funny because of what he said via twitter (pretty rude...more than I think he'd say given his TV personality). I'd link to it but I'm not sure what chowhound's policy is w/ external links...

                1. re: Spike

                  I've read the new restaurant will be located at 320 Summer St...

                  http://bostinno.com/2012/11/26/mario-...

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  Yah rockstar, look at Big Guy Fieri making a run for it in NYC, a disaster! I think I'll support our locals.

                  1. re: treb

                    The jury's still out on that one. There's a community that enjoys reading the NY Times and drubbing Guy Fieri for his Unbearable Poochy-ness, and then there's Times Square tourists. His restaurant may end up doing just fine.

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      if you read the other NY critics, they have been equally unkind to Mr. Fieri. But the bad review from the Times may actually help.

                      And just because the food is not the main attraction does not mean that the restaurant will fail. There are plenty of people who follow DDD who will stop in.

                      I ate at Babbo a few months ago; the food was very good and the wine list even better; I would go back.

                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                        I've had good meals at Pizzeria Mozza and the Eataly pizzeria as well, and a great meal at Del Posto. As much as celebrity chefs annoy us onlookers, he has a pretty good track record.

                    2. re: treb

                      Are you really comparing Mario Batali to Guy Fieri? I don't think Guy Fieri is an actual chef.

                      Also, a rockstar chef chain? How is Mario any different than Barbara Lynch, Jamie Bissonnette, Ken Orinner, ect.? His restaurants are pretty good and maintain a certain level of standard.

                      1. re: Eastwind

                        Fieri was the chef/owner of several restaurants (with names like "Johnny Garlic's, a California Pasta Grill" and BBQ/sushi joint "Tex Wasabi" -- you can't make this stuff up) before he became a food-TV celeb.

                        So yes, he and Batali are both chefs. And I drive a car, but I'm not Mario Andretti.

                        Obviously, any chef who builds an empire ends up dividing his time among each of his restaurants. The results vary. I've never felt swindled by a Batali restaurant, and then there's Todd English.

                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          From what I've read, Fieri's career and education was mostly in the management side, not so much as a chef.

                          Todd English...uh, does anyone like him anymore? His ego took over the talent he had.

                2. I've dined at a few of Batali's restaurants in NYC, mostly with very positive experiences, despite going in with some skepticism. His Otto in particular impressed me as very good and quite reasonable, with excellent pastas in properly small portions as well as fine small plates, really good pizzas, and sensibly priced wine. So as overexposed celebrity-chef empires go, we could do far worse (and have).

                  I just hate to see the Seaport turning into a giant mall of chain outlets and brand extensions of food-TV personalities. It's not a good thing for Boston's indies in other neighborhoods.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    The seaport is on a path of developing into a souless place where conventioneers and tourists who want to "eat on the water" will be corralled into mostly overpriced restaurants.

                    I've been to Otto in LV. Only had the pizza which, while fine, should not have had Batali's name on it. I have not been to Mozza, but I've seen pictures of the product there, and it was plain to see that Batali's Otto is no Mozza (on the pizza front).

                    1. re: Alcachofa

                      That LV branch isn't on par with the Manhattan original, they should name it something else. If that's what we get here, I'll pass. I'd love a homegrown kick ass pizza place rather than another subpar recreation of an out of town joint. Where's our Pizzeria Bianco?

                      On the whole, I feel like the Seaport is already a lost cause as a dining destination.

                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                      I agree, I've been to Otto twice in NYC and both times had nice experiences. I've also eaten at Lupa.

                      I just wish Boston had similar Italian places that are reasonably priced and not overloaded with ingredients.

                      I also prefer more traditional regional menus.

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        I've always been impressed with the wine selections at the Batali restaurants in NYC, in credit, I believe to Bastianich. Most impressive was when a group of twelve of us went to Del Posto for a bachelor party, they had a large number of sub $50 bottles and even a number of sub $30 and the sommelier was great about accommodating our budget and thirst. Wish more high end or even mid priced restaurants could find good quaffable cheap wine for their lists.

                        There are a couple of restaurants in Boston I can think of where the cheapest bottle is $50-60. Nothing irks me more.

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          i've had excellent meals, wine and service at babbo, esca and lupa. really outstanding. far better than anything i ever ate at say, olives, back in the day. have also had dinner with bastianich a few times and he is feverishly passionate about both wine and food.

                          perhaps they really execute the brand extension better than many others? have only eaten in the nyc branches, so can't personally attest.

                          however, there was this:

                          http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...

                          with the price of real estate in the seaport, and its potential future values, i don't see too many little cutting edge indies ever opening down there.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            Unfortunately, it sounds like what we would be getting here is not a Babbo or Lupa type place.

                            Maybe Batali is planning on taking over Upper Crust with this track record?

                        2. The mushroom and fontina pizza at Mozza in Newport Beach was really good. Excellent crust and toppings. Desserts were great, too. I think this is good news.

                          1. I think it's pretty silly to complain about a guy like Batali opening a restaurant in Boston, as though we have a static number of eaters here and he's going to suck them all up, kill off local favorites, and stifle innovation. To me, it's like complaining that immigrants are stealing American jobs.

                            I hope he opens up a restaurant here. It'll bring buzz to the area, it'll bring more money to the city, it'll add another dining option, it'll increase competition. I can't think of a plausible negative here, really. It's fine to roll your eyes at a name-brand chef, but personal preferences are not legitimate concerns. Bring on Batali -- hell, bring on Fieri for all I care. The more the merrier. I'm glad that most people here don't seem to be up in arms about this.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: FinnFPM

                              I'd count Babbo's among my favorite dinners, particularly the first time we ate there. It was vibrant, generous, and innovative. I'd be thrilled to discover a Babbo's in Boston. Del Posto was not nearly as impressive: it was beautiful, stately, super competent and corporate. So if the Babbo's Batali showed up, I'd be at the door.

                              1. re: FinnFPM

                                Very much agreed. I've had nothing but good experiences with Batali's food, I'm glad to see the area he's opening it in expanding its options, and, frankly, having a Batali restaurant here is a nice boost.

                                1. re: FinnFPM

                                  I've been to Babbo, it was good, but not exceptional. Personal preferences ARE legitimate concerns.

                                  In my experience EVERY chef that goes the EMPIRE/Brand route inevitably loses track of the food (this is about the food after all) somewhere between the time they open their third, and their 10th restaurant. Location number 6 is usually a bad sign.

                                  Certainly after 10, that person is no longer a chef, or a food person, but rather a manager/business person, and inevitably the food suffers.

                                  (See Wolfgang Puck branded fast food Pizza at your local airport (likely actually made by Sysco or some such) for the extreme example.)

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    Oh I don't dispute any of this. I'm not invested in his career so I won't mind if he jumps the shark. I just think that a mediocre Batali restaurant is better than an empty warehouse.

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      Striper, i just went to Bernadin and Jean-Georges and thought that they retained their excellence.

                                      I really liked Babbo but thought that it just fell short of excellence in the food though the wine list was excellent.

                                      Do you disagree?

                                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                        don't know if it was a general question, cd, but I do disagree. Babbo's is not competiing with Le Bernardin or Jean-Georges. It is a far less formal cuisine and, of its kind, excellent. If you were to compare Del Posto with LB or JG I'd agree: it disappointed me compared to both those two and to Per Se and it is certainly closer in concept to them. Babbo's is a far more, in my mind, joyful and uncomplicated treasure with an almost Sicilian/Neopolitan sloppy conviviality. Frankly, it's a style I prefer though I wouldn't knock the meals i've had at LB, JG and Per Se at all.

                                        1. re: teezeetoo

                                          Generally. I guess I am just not so impressed by uncomplicated Italian as it has been done ad infinitum. Just short of excellent is about right. Nothing wrong, in fact quite tasty, and I'd eat there again, but given the thousand choices in NYC I would not go three blocks out of my way to do so.

                                          Glad to hear Bernardin and Jean-Georges are keeping their luster.

                                          Maybe it is also that I just find Mario Batalli's whole shtick a bit annoying. The I'm your buddy big (slightly sloppy, perhaps a little drunk) thing.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            So much depends on the whole experience when you are spending that kind of money (assuming money counts to you!). Our first time at Babbo's, the first year it opened, it was our "splurge" choice for a NYC visit with friends. We've all been to Italy often and we were blown away by not only the food and the audacious wine list, but the lovely, convivial service that night. We were obviously having such a good time and we were also obviously not "posh" NY'ers - for whatever reason, the Maitre D' send over a bottle of Sicilian etna rosso that "mario particularly likes" on the house. The 6 of us have never forgotten the generosity of that meal and we forgive Mario a lot of pr posturing because, that night at least, it was all about the joy of sharing great food.

                                        2. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                          Eric Ripert is probably a bad example - I think there are what two restaurants he owns? He is an example of a celebrity chef who has resisted empire building.

                                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                            eric ripert has a couple of places in D.C . though he is breaking his ties with them. I admit that he seems to have the least love of empire building among the great chefs.

                                            we will see what batalli does here in Boston.

                                            My favorite chain is Nobu's, and I eat there in NYC frequently. So I believe that it is possible to be a chain and be great, too.

                                    2. I'm thrilled -- there is absolutely no good pizza in the neighborhood and we could use more casual-ish places. I hope Ming Tsai's future Blue Dragon is another fun, unpretentious place that you can drop in and grab a bite rather than wait in line for hours with the suburban tourists like at the Liberty Wharf places.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: misscucina

                                        Oh, if you build it, they will come. The tourists will come... I always liked the setup at their 8th St setup with a large bar with standing room tables at which to wait and enjoy some wine & snacks before being seated, or just enjoying everything in the front. Hopefully the crowds will save some of the olive oil gelato for me!

                                        1. re: misscucina

                                          I agree! We're really talking Fort Point Channel here rather than Seaport and while Sportello has some great pastas, they are really pricey and there's no pizza to speak of. If Batali is planning something like Otto (NY version, where I've had several fine meals) it would be a great addition at a more reasonable price point. As for the tourist hordes, FWIW there's no water view on that part of Summer Street.

                                        2. one hour ago on FB:

                                          "Mario Batali
                                          it's official. we're going to boston!!
                                          babbo pizzeria e enoteca, coming soon to 320 summer street.

                                          Wheeeeeeeee!!"

                                          http://www.facebook.com/MarioBatali?r...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Gio

                                            You can hit Ming's new place with a rock from that spot. Returning fire is a bit more difficult (A Street runs underneath Summer).

                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                          2. The Globe and Grub Street reported on Friday that it's official, and it will indeed be a Babbo.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Swankalicious

                                              Sort of: it's the same concept as his pizzeria Otto, but since someone else is already using that name here, they're calling it Babbo.

                                              1. re: wandergirl

                                                Perhaps now if he still interested in Boston he can think a bit ahead of the curve and find a location in or near Downtown Crossing which I think has the potential to be the next restaurant hotspot in the coming years.

                                                  1. re: wandergirl

                                                    That's bad news for Todd English's former landlords, as The Todd was claiming he'd earn some of his unpaid back rent by selling the Olives Charlestown liquor license to Batali: http://www.universalhub.com/2013/more...

                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                      interestingly, there are people who do a good job of chain restaurants: sichuan gourmet, Xian's famous foods, Harold's chicken shack. Strangely, i feel that top chefs do a worse job.

                                                      he exception is Nobu, which is a chain that I liked in California and in New York.

                                                      Is Batalli's Otto better than a typical pizza joint?

                                                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                        I can speak only to the location of Otto that is in the Venetian in Las Vegas, but it is definitely not just a typical pizza joint. They have excellent cheeses and various small plates, and their pastas are also quite good. As many times as I've been (8?), I think I've only had pizza once, and it was good - nice charred crust, dressed like a real Italian pizza.

                                                        1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                          I'd say it's more accurate to describe the Batali Otto as an Italian place that does way better-than-average pizza, pasta and small plates with a big, very affordable selection of wines. I'm not a slavering Batali fan by any means, but I was impressed with it for its value.

                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                            MC, are you not impressed by Babbo? i thought that it was very good but not worth writing home about; I had a great bottle of Barolo at a very good price. I have not been to Batalli's Posto though it is the most controversial of the 4 star picks in the NY Times.

                                                        2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                          the court has already given both the kingfish and the olives licenses to the respective landlords in lieu of back-rent. they are no longer todd's to sell. regardless of what his flack has to say.

                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                            I am not sure how the court could "give" the licenses to his creditors absent a trial/judgment. I think they merely sought and obtained attachments of the licenses at the outset of their cases as pre-judgment security in the event they are ultimately successful in their lawsuits. Technically, they would be Todd's to sell but he can't sell them without the Landlords' blessing (i.e. a release of the attachment).

                                                            1. re: Gordough

                                                              http://www.universalhub.com/2013/todd...

                                                              sorry, i don't play a lawyer on the interwebz.

                                                              licenses were seized/attached under court order, in light of fact that back rent and damages will likely never be recovered, and cannot be sold without court's permission.

                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                  Seizing and attaching are different things.

                                                                  Gordough's explanation is a good one.

                                                                  Attaching property prevents the owner from conveying it until the legal mess is settled. As part of a judgement or settlement the licenses likely will be transferred to the landlord.

                                                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                    lol, for pete's sake, guys. am a sommelier, not a lawyer!

                                                                    thanks for clarifying, but remain glad that the courts are finally taking action. he is not some humble residential tenant, but a guy with a mile-long list of non-payment to a mountain of creditors, including micro- and mega- businesses.

                                                                    i know 2 brothers who own a specialty produce company and work on a shoe-string. they thought getting into "the new" olives would be their big break. he stiffed them for months, til they finally ceased delivery. they have never been paid and if they ever are, will receive pennies on thousands. sure, school of hard knocks, but i don't know any other chef in town who has pulled this kind of shit for so long, again and again and again, and essentially skated. it's just gross. he truly feels he is above the law.

                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                      He's a pig, for sure.

                                                                      I hope your friends get something. Maybe the watch the bride - to- be clocked him with,

                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                        Interestingly, produce is one thing you don't want to neglect to pay for. There is a VERY powerful Federal statute that essentially allows a produce supplier to go after individuals to recoup their loses and not just the entity they sold the produce to. In other words, any produce supplier who sold to a Todd English led entity and didn't get paid for it, could sue English personally. Regardless of the financial status of his entities, I am sure he still has reachable personal assets. The produce suppliers must have had a very strong lobby to get such a bill passed.

                                                                        1. re: Gordough

                                                                          he did the same to the liquor/wine/beer wholesalers, many of whom were owed thousands when olives closed the first time. some were willing to accept pennies on the dollar to get back in for this last olives rodeo, but others were not and swore to never do business with him again.

                                                            1. re: mwk

                                                              Well, good on him for not being willing to budge on that point.

                                                              1. re: mwk

                                                                The latest I heard was there was a disagreement between Batali and the landlord over over a wood burning oven.

                                                                1. re: treb

                                                                  yeah, that's in the link above. except for anybody grandfathered in, i don't think boston allows them anymore, so not a simple landlord issue.

                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                    I don't think that's true, it's just that the ventilation requirements are expensive, and Batali apparently wanted the landlord to contribute to the necessary work. Picco, Posto, Gran Gusto, and the forthcoming Pastoral (also in Fort Point) all burn wood in their pizza ovens, among others.

                                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                      are they wood-fueled? or does gas fueled fire burn the wood?

                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                        One clarification, Picco in the south end is not wood burning to my knowledge.

                                                                        1. re: Tzonis

                                                                          I always thought it was wood-fired, but you are correct: Picco uses a gas-fired Wood Stone brand oven.

                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                            I wonder if it could be a hybrid like Area IV. Picco's Facebook photos show lots of wood embers in the oven shots.

                                                                            1. re: bear

                                                                              I always thought I could see wood embers in Picco's oven, too, and know that Wood Stone makes wood-fired ovens (as well as gas and coal ones). But according to this interview, it has two gas elements and one (probably under-floor) infrared element: http://boston.eater.com/archives/2012...

                                                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                Weird. I don't know what the heck I was looking at because I don't see any oven photos on Facebook now. Guess the senility is taking over...

                                                                2. Batali searching for space to possibly open a Boston Eataly. This would be amazing.

                                                                  http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2...

                                                                  21 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Matt H

                                                                    Now that's a mall food court I could get behind!

                                                                    Imagine having a good reason to go to Fanueil Hall, or how it might improve the Downtown Crossing area. Hope Batali doesn't opt for the Back Bay or Seaport. Won't happen till 2015, but still.

                                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                      If they locate space in Fanueil Hall/Quincy Market that would give us Eataly, The Boston Public Market, Haymarket Pushcart Vendors and the future International market approved for Parcel 9 all clustered in one area. That easily would be one of the more impressive market districts in the country.

                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                        +1 on this. looks like a $$$$$ juggernaut for batali and partners too.

                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                          I could see Downtown, due to the daytime crowd, and the affluent nouveau condo community. Not to mention Beacon Hill being right across the way, and Back Bay not exactly far either.

                                                                          Fanueil Hall area, similarly. Though it certainly would work for his purposes in Back Bay as well.

                                                                          Seaport wouldn't really make sense to me for that place, except for the fact you can easily get a lot of square footage there.

                                                                          I was disappointed in the cheesy crowd I encountered at the NYC Eataly rooftop beer bar. Mrs. A and I immediately turned around and found civilization a few blocks away (Gramercy Tavern) (Flatiron Lounge was closed at the time).

                                                                          And, of course, the name is still ghastly, no matter where it ends up.

                                                                          1. re: Alcachofa

                                                                            i was wondering how much of the nyc traffic was foodtv-driven tourists? that was my first thought about him winding up in faneuil hall and what a nightmare that would be for locals who actually want to shop for real food.

                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                              I hear you, but if the foodtv crowd helps create the demand to get a great food spot open, I count that as a positive. Plus, lots of those folks will develop into chow hounds. Everyone needs a way in, and it's really not us-v-them.

                                                                              When I'm not working or eating, I'm playing music, and occasionally I get a chance to play for a general public, non-music crowd. I've come to love those occasions because it means I get to turn some new people on to the thing I love. I see Eataly doing the same for non-foodies, or for the food-curious.

                                                                          2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                            The eataly in NYC is spectacular and I love to go there.

                                                                            But I seriously doubt that he can carry it off as he expands to other locations.

                                                                            I didnt read the article (I will tho) but wouldnt be be at least his 4th or 5th locale? DC and Chicago in front of us.

                                                                            As for the rooftop beer garden, Ive usually found it pretty fun, but it depends on the crowd, for sure.

                                                                            If you turn around and want something else, there's a bar called LIVE BAIT about a half a block away on 23rd st that's pretty cool.

                                                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                              i think that there is already an eataly in chicago, so that moves boston up a notch.

                                                                              i like babbo and esca, but it is rare for me to patronize a chain restaurant from a famous chef. I like Von Gerrichten, but i never eat at his Boston restaurant. I must admit that i would like a boston nobu especially if it miraculously was BYOB as are the two in Manhattan.

                                                                              1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                                er...

                                                                                jean-georges vongerichten ? restaurants where the chef is contractually obligated to visit less than a handful of times per year hold little luster for me.

                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                  i like the incarnsations of nobu in manhattan and Southern California; i doubt nobu spends much time at either place

                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                    Jean-George's restaurants are usually pretty good. Market at the W Boston is pretty good as well.

                                                                                    No different than the Boston area chefs that have a lot of restaurants.

                                                                                    As far as Mario, I would love Carnevino. If Eataly came to Boston, along with Wegmans' proposed expansion into the downtown area, Boston is going to have some incredible grocery options.

                                                                                    1. re: Eastwind

                                                                                      have eaten at several jgv locations here, london, nyc and paris. it has been many years though and his reach wasn't as global as it is now. if the best you can say is "pretty" good, am not racing back.

                                                                                      guys like batali and jgv own dozens of properties and brands. it's not the same as a guy like oringer who can walk from home to all his properties except for one.

                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                        You can only be in one kitchen at a time. These chefs are all about finding, grooming, and trusting talent.

                                                                                        Thomas Keller manages to have two flagship, haute cuisine restaurants that are bi-coastal, but they are still both excellent. Guy Savoy, Joel Robuchon, Pierre Gagnaire, Alan Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, Heston Blumenthal, Michel Bras are just some of the example of chefs who manage and run restaurants all over the place.

                                                                                        1. re: Eastwind

                                                                                          keller has 3 restaurants. blumenthal and bras each less than a handful.

                                                                                          i'm not saying it's impossible to expand outside your reach or city of origin, but few have the skill of ducasse to begin with and even fewer have the capacity to find top executive chefs who can then find troops to build rather than erode the brand.

                                                                                          it's happened to several chefs just in boston who bit off more than they could chew. english was not the only victim of his own hubris.

                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                            I imagine the reason for English's expansionism were not simply about ego. He wanted to be rich and famous, and he achieved that. I don't blame him for chasing those goals; I just get annoyed when he talks about being in it for the joy he brings to people. That might be easier to buy if so many of his restaurants weren't cynical shitshows, or if he were a more ethical businessperson.

                                                                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                              I love Eataly in NY, though I understand the concern for its effects on local and small which cause raging discussions about its Italian branches. It's expensive but where else can you explore dozens of Italian cheeses, charcuterie, excellent bread, sniff around jams and moutardes you won't see anywhere else, and all under one bubbling, babbling roof. I always stop in when we're in NY and bring "takeout" to our friends and its always fun. I first went to Babbo's when Batali was actually there and I've been at least once a year since and he's long not been there. It still, for me, has a ring of authenticity, some of the best and most upbeat service I've experienced any where in the world, and damn good food and wine. So maybe his gift is training fine staff who keep the brand brimming with inventiveness. I don't begrudge the choice to go big and get rich: I have family in the business and its damn hard work to run one restaurant, never be home to see your kids on a weekend, and barely make a living.

                                                                                            2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                              Keller has 6 restaurants (3 Bouchons bistros, Ad Hoc) all together, plus a bakery. By it goes back to my point, a chef can only be in one kitchen at one time. Bras can only be in Japan, and not his kitchen in France, or vice versa. It's all about developing the talent to execute, the same talent that cooks when a Thomas Keller isn't in the house even when he had one restaurant.

                                                                                              Keller, Ducasse, Ramsay, Jean George, all have built great organizational foundations when it comes to recruiting, nurturing, and enabling talented chefs and staff, and it allows them to do what they've done.

                                                                                              1. re: Eastwind

                                                                                                ramsay, really?

                                                                                                i haven't been blown away by a jean-georges place in forever, same with nobu. i no longer go.

                                                                                                on the whole, i don't think we disagree. i never said it's impossible but those who can are in a VERY small club.

                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                  i still like jean-georges and nobu, and i appreciate the cheap corkage fee which can save one a grand or more on the wine. J-G still gets 4 stars from the Times and 3 from Michellin.

                                                                                                  And i would again point out that Jean Joho who owns Brasserie Jo has somehow been able to maintain standards for quite some time. That said, I agree with your general point.

                                                                                                  Much as I like Babbo; I figure i will continue to eat at one of our local pizza joints.

                                                                                                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                                                    Pastoral in many respects is a similar concept to Batali's Otto, minus the impressive selection of affordable wines but plus better cocktails.

                                                                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                    1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                                                      joho only has 4 spots. hardly the machine-level of some of the other branded chefs we're discussing.

                                                                              2. Ugh, some of the worst meals i've had have been at the restaurants of food tv chefs.

                                                                                1. Evidently, Batalli has found a location for Babbo Pizzeria. Fox News is reporting that he will open by the end of the year at Fan Pier on the ground floor of 11 Fan Pier Blvd on the ground floor of one of the buildings occupied by Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

                                                                                  1. i have never een to any place he owns but... his recipes in the books are awesome