New York City- 10/13/2016

Maison Kayser Walking around New York Babbo


Opened by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich in 1998, Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca is an indulgent celebration of the best in Italian food, wine and hospitality. Tucked away on Waverly Place in a former carriage house just steps from Washington Square Park in the heart of Greenwich Village, Babbo is the restaurant that launched Mario Batali's career. Despite opening its doors over 18 years ago, it's still one of the hardest reservations to get in the city. The menu is a roster of Chef Batali’s lusty creations, incorporating the best and freshest seasonal produce, Italian cheeses, meat, game and seafood, accented with finest Italian olive oils, traditional aceto balsamico and other exceptional ingredients that surprise and delight.

Although co-owners, Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich, have branched out considerably since they opened Babbo, the restaurant remains their cherished center of gravity, the jewel in their culinary crown. And it's nothing short of magnificent.


Mario Batali is really a great chef! I enjoyed watching his show and I always wanted to eat at Babbo so I made sure to reserve a table (a month ahead as suggested) and even then the only time available was at 6:30Pm which I accepted right away.  Babbo been around for 18 years and it is still hard to get a reservation.  


As soon as you walk in Babbo there is an exuberant atmosphere with loud music and a large bar located close to the entrance. At the time it was unheard of for an upscale restaurant to play "rock music", or encourage "bar dining." But that's exactly what they did, and by now you know it worked, judging by the fact that this place is still hip.


The main dinning room is narrow and fairly small.

In the back ground you can see stairs going up to the split-level dining room, suffused in soft honeyed amber light, dark woods and a bustle that never quite recedes, Babbo can be frenetic and noisy, with a lively rock n' roll soundtrack that veers from Led Zeppelin to Radiohead, streamed from Mario Batali's own iPod. Our server explained that Mario and Joe like to play music that they listen to, so that eating at Babbo is like eating at their home.

A huge topiary is placed on top of a table right in the middle of the dinning room.


We were seated at the far end of the room and the

Babbo is the perfect spot for a raucous celebratory dinner with flowing wine and festive banter. But be forewarned: if anyone in your party is hard of hearing, or bothered by loud rock music, you might not want to come here!

Water is served...

We went with the Traditional tasting menu.

4 course + 1 cheese course, and 2 desserts.


Hoa started the meal with a nice old fashion cocktail

Since there is only the 2 of us Hoa selected one of the signature features of the Babbo wine program which is the "quartino", a new (and now widely imitated) approach to “by-the-glass” wine service. Conceived of by Joe Bastianich, the quartino is designed to evoke the casual, osteria-style wine service of Italy, while also offering guests an opportunity to experiment and to drink better wine.

An amuse-bouche of Crostini di Ceci, whole chickpeas tossed with black olive tapenade.

The very tender, slightly spicy chickpeas were drenched with balsamic vinegar and spooned over thick toasted bread.

Babbo's homemade crusty bread with olive oil for dipping


Starting our meal...


Pumpkin Sformato with Babbo Coppa.

Coppa is originally from Piacenza in Emilia Romagna, and is cut from the shoulder of the pig.  To make coppa, the shoulder of the pig is cured for 21 days and then rubbed with ground fennel, black peppercorns and cayenne pepper. It is then aged in a drying room for 3 to 4 months. The end result is marbled and velvety meat with sweet and spicy flavor.

Here at Babbo the Coppa is made in house so needless to say it was flavorful and so delicious.

The Coppa is paired with a Pumpkin Sformato. I never heard of Sformato so what it is?  This is how Mario described it: The Spanish call it 'tortilla', the Italians from whom I learned it call it 'sformato' (literally 'deformed'). It's basically a mess of potatoes and onions held together with eggs. But once you try it you'll see that it's oh so much more than that!
The Sformato tasted like a rich and flavorful flan to me.  So delicious that I probably could easily eat more...


Pappadelle with Porcini and thyme.

Pappadelle are large, very broad, flat noodles and are combined with porcini Mushrooms and thyme.

The porcini mushrooms are very intense, meaty, and with a strong flavor that carries the dish.

This was absolutely, positively scrumptious: golden, eggy ribbons of perfectly cooked pasta tossed with flavorful porcini mushrooms and drenched in butter and parmesan.

It looks like a simple dish but it is truly delicious and definitely satisfy my palate.


DuckTortellini with "Sugo Finto"

Duck confit is stuffed inside the tortellini and served with a rich tomato sauce that topped the tortellini. “Sugo finto” means “fake sauce” originated with farmers who wanted the body and heartiness of a regular red sauce but couldn't afford the meat. The chunks of onion, carrot, and celery provide the meat-like texture, while the use of red wine gives it added color and depth.

Apparently Mario did not use any meat in the sauce but it still tasted rich, meaty and was really remarkable.

A very enjoyable dish!


Grilled Hanger steak with Celery root Fregula and black truffle Vinaigrette

Perfectly cooked slices of beef- so delicious.  The only complaint is there isn't enough beef!


Sottocenere with Whipped Honey.

Sottocenere is a cow's milk cheese that was pasteurized, and has a pretty mild taste.  Dipped in the honey, it had that salty-sweet thing going for it, I love the cheese.

This was the cheese course to wrap up the savory portion of the menu and make the transition to the desserts.



Coffee served with a selection of sugars.

Apple Cake with Pecans and Crème Fraiche


The apple cake is moist and served on a bed of apple sauce, sprinkled with caramelized pecan and top with a doll up of crème fraiche.
Really delicious and perfect with a cup of coffee.

Torta Caprese with Fior di Latte and Vincotto.

Very rich chocolate cake with a sweet and acidic sauce- Just an ok dessert!


Budino with dried fruits...

 I only took a spoon and can't remember much of it as I was too full.

After Dinner homemade biscotti. 

I wrapped them up so I can have them the next day for breakfast.

So, after nearly 18 years, is Babbo still worth your time and money? It is an absolutely "YES".  

I am very impressed with all the pastas dishes that were served and delivered by a polished and warm team staff members.  Needless to say Hoa and I were a bit chocked that the music was so loud verging boisterous atmosphere for a fine dining establishment.   However, the formula works as you really feel comfortable there and the food is so delicious!  It is still difficult to get a table there as the recommendation is to call 1 month ahead, but when you there it is definitely an enjoyable and memorable meal.  I would love to come again the next time I am in New York.


NEXT.... Dinner at Angelo 677 Prime in Albany, NY


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