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When Mike and I decided to go to New York, one of the restaurants at the top of my list was Mario Batali’s Babbo. Three weeks before our visit to New York, Mike tried making a reservation at here.  For the entire five days we were supposed to be there, they were already fully booked. After doing some research online, he later realized that getting a reservation at Babbo is quite a process. If you want a reservation, you better do so, exactly one month in advance of the date. Oh, and be prepared to call them a few times since they’re notoriously known for having a busy line.

Babbo

They recommend trying to call the day before to see if there are any cancellations. Although they were still fully booked, I asked them about walk-ins and was informed that they reserve a few tables for walk-ins. So, we showed up on a Monday twenty minutes before they opened to ensure we were able to get a seat. Luckily, we were the first ones there, guaranteeing us a spot.

They started us off at the bar for about ten minutes while they were still setting up. I’m a sucker for fruity drinks, so when the bartender told me about their special, a cherry bellini, I had to get one. Nice and refreshing!

What I liked about the setup was that we had a fourtop to ourselves and they seated us on the banquette next to each other. After taking a look through Babbo’s menu, we decided to go with the Pasta Tasting Menu for $69 per person.

Black Tagliatelle

As an amuse bouche, they served us a chickpea crostini. They tasted like they were coated with some sort of balsamic dressing and was a nice little bite to start off the meal. My only complaint was that it was a little difficult to eat as they were loaded up with chickpeas which fell everywhere.

We were also served some bread which was served cold without any butter or olive oil. I wasn’t too impressed with the bread so I didn’t have very much of it…and I was about to have a pasta tasting menu. I didn’t need any extra carbs.

Our first dish was the Black Tagliatelle – with parsnips and pancetta. I’ve never had squid ink pasta before but I’m glad Babbo’s was my first. I simply loved the crispy bits of pancetta sprinkled over the dish and the sweetness of the parsnips. The combination of it all just worked so well with squid ink pasta, cooked to a perfect al dente. What a great start to the meal. Mike and I agreed that this was our favourite dish of the evening.

“Casunzei” – with poppy seeds

After our first dish, I knew the service here would be top notch. All the servers were incredibly attentive, and there were so many of them. During our meal it felt as though there were more servers than customers! They came by promptly after each dish and always provided us with new utensils. I also liked that the servers always described each dish in such great detail to us.

The second dish was the “Casunzei” – with poppy seeds. The server explained to us that “casunzei” translates into “small pockets”. This dish came with three small pockets filled with sweet beets and ricotta, topped with a sprinkling of poppy seeds. After cutting into this delicate pasta, the beets started to bleed into the white sauce which created a nice pattern on the dish. Similar to our first dish, this blew me away.

Garganelli – with “Funghi Trifolati”

The third dish was the Garganelli – with “Funghi Trifolati”. This type of pasta resembled penne but was made up of square sheets of pasta rolled up into the shape of penne. Since I’m a huge fan of mushrooms, this dish was another hit. It contained an assortment of mushrooms sautéed with garlic. The mushrooms added a nice meatiness to the dish and the parsley was a nice garnish (even though I don’t typically enjoy parsley). Similar to the previous two dishes, the pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente.

The fourth pasta dish was the Agnolotti al Pomodoro, which was the first dish that actually had meat in it. They were pretty much mini ravioli pouches filled with braised beef topped with a fresh tomato sauce. Although the agnolotti was tasty, it wasn’t as impressive as the previous three dishes. And by this point I was starting to get pretty full. So many carbs!

Agnolotti al Pomodoro

Mike was happy to see that the last pasta dish was the Papardelle Bolognese, since papardelle is one of his favourite types of pasta. I was surprised to see how thin the pasta was. It was incredibly thin and light, topped with a heavier meat sauce. Although it struck me as a simpler dish, it was simply delicious. I could definitely see the progression of the meal from the lighter dishes to the heavier meat dishes.

Now, onto the desserts… three of them! The first dessert was the Sweet Plum “Delizia”. It was a small sweet plum cake topped with cream and a sage leaf. The interior was quite moist and Mike found it to taste like cheesecake. It was a nice little dessert and the meal could have easily ended here. But we still had two more desserts to go.

Papardelle Bolognese

When they brought out a long thin spoon after the first dessert, I knew we were going to get a mousse of some kind, which turned out to be the Chocolate “al Diavolo” (aka the devil’s chocolate). The mousse was incredibly rich and came with some chili flakes sprinkled on top. I’m not a huge fan of chili chocolate, so after a bite with the flakes, I just picked them out of my mousse. The mousse was good, but it definitely wasn’t one of the best I’ve had.

After the mousse, we were stuffed so we only managed to have a few bites of the final desserts. The server explained to us that one person at the table would be served the dessert listed on the tasting menu, while the pastry chef would whip up a surprise for the other person. So, we really had two final desserts.

Olive Oil Rosemary Cake - with Olive Oil Gelato

Mike’s was the Olive Oil Rosemary Cake - with Olive Oil Gelato, which was the one listed on the tasting menu. I was a little apprehensive about the olive oil gelato as it sounded a little strange. You could certainly taste the olive oil in it but it wasn’t too overpowering and was actually quite refreshing. As for the cake, we found it to be a bit dense. Not the greatest way to end after five pasta courses and two dessert courses. The portion of the cake was a little large and was just too much. We would have preferred something a little lighter. Maybe just the gelato?

My final dessert was the “surprise” dish that the pastry chef had whipped up for the day. It was Grape Brioche – with honey vanilla gelato. I thought it looked like a tart – again, too large of a portion to end off the meal. The taste and texture reminded me of French toast, which actually tasted really nice… I really would have enjoyed this under normal circumstances. Just not after seven other courses.

Grape Brioche – with honey vanilla gelato

Overall, I thought the pasta tasting menu was fantastic. I was impressed by all the pasta dishes – each was delicious and most of them blew me away. Sadly, I couldn’t say the same about the desserts. Although they were all good, I don’t think any of them were anything special. Despite this, we both left very satisfied (and incredibly stuffed) and thought this was the best meal of the trip. Highly recommended!
 
Ratings (out of 5):

  • Food: 4.5
  • Service: 4.5
  • Atmosphere: 4.5
  • Babbo on Urbanspoon



    1. Tonya - What's On My Plate (Reply) on Tuesday 18, 2011

      Babbo is one of my faves! When I was there I had a really delish blueberry upside down cake that I still dream of.

      • Jess (Reply) on Tuesday 18, 2011

        I can see why. This was definitely the best meal we had during our NYC trip!

    2. Dave (Reply) on Tuesday 18, 2011

      $69 for the mains? That is… Actually very reasonable considering the quality of food! Need to go to the States!

      • Jess (Reply) on Tuesday 18, 2011

        Actually, it was $69 for the whole pasta tasting menu – so, I actually found it to be very reasonable given the great food! And there was A LOT of it too. 5 pasta dishes + 3 desserts!

    3. Kirsten (Reply) on Tuesday 18, 2011

      Thanks, Jess, for your description of each of the pasta courses. I’m going to Babbo tonight and am considering the pasta tasting menu, so it was great to read a little preview of what I might get! Although you went a while ago, the menu is still pretty similar.

      • Jess (Reply) on Tuesday 18, 2011

        You’re welcome. Thanks for dropping by and hope your meal at Babbo is just as enjoyable!