It had been a wish for a long time to eat at Babbo Ristorante Enoteca in New York City. I have read a lot about this Mario Batali’s famous establishment. All famous food writers and restaurant critics have raved about the place over the last decade. Therefore, it seems only natural that I needed to experience it first hand.
My friend and I decided to test our fate one Sunday afternoon when we called Babbo for a dinner reservation. “We are completely booked but have 6 tables for walk-ins” they said. We showed up at the restaurant at 6pm and got a table right away. This was going to be a good night!
After an appertif of the cherry belini, we struggled through the menu. I finally made it here after many attempts and now have to chose what to eat? As luck would have it yet again, there were tasting menus. All we had to decide was if we were going to have the 8-course pasta tasting or the traditional tasting menu. We decided to go with pasta.
The first course was Black Tagliatelle with Peas and Castelmagno.For short, it was squid ink tagliatelle pasta with a sauce of green pea soup and Parmesan cheese. OK, but not my favorite.
The second course was far more interesting and colorful. “Casunzei”with Poppy Seeds aka a silky thin beet ravioli with caramelized leeks in a light olive oil and butter sauce, with sprinkled of poppy seeds. Now, we are talking!
There was Garganelli with “Funghi Trifolati” for the third course. Earthy truffled mushrooms with delicate homemade pasta, sprinkled with goat cheese was a delight to the taste buds.
The third course consisted of “Agnolotti al Pomodo,” a dense beef ravioli with tomato sauce. You could taste the fresh sweetness of the tomatoes against the al dente pasta.
My least favorite was the Spaghettini with Spicy Budding Chives and Lobster. Perhaps by this time I was too full to enjoy anymore pasta or the dish didn’t do anything for me. It was a regular spaghetti marinara with a few pieces of overcooked lobster meat.
The first dessert course (or intermezzo) was a delightful sweet and savory creation that I had not had before. The “Tipo Romano Fritto con Uvette” was a soft creamy ricotta ball that was deep fried to perfection and served with a hint of sweetness from roasted muscat grapes. If I go back to Babbo, I will definitely order this again.
Next came Chocolate “al Diavolo,” a rich chocolate mousse with red chili flakes. Three words to describe this dish – to die for! The mousse was light, airy and had just the right amount of chocolate that won’t overwhelm you. The chili brought out the flavors even more.
The last course was an Olive Oil Rosemary Cake with Olive Oil Gelato. It was a dense sponge cake against a lucious olive oil and rosemary gelato. I just ate the gelato part of it.
I told you it was going to be my lucky day! We were served another complimentary dessert – a Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Orange Sauce and Hazelnut Gelato. This was Mario’s version of a chocolate souffle. My friend seemed to have loved this dessert the best of everything we tried. I found the chocolate to be quite heavy (as expected to be) but the gelato was excellent. The orange sauce was a nice addition.
8 courses, 3 hours, 4000 calories and $200 later, I was so full that I couldn’t move. The meal was not only satisfying, it was an experience for all of the senses. Thumbs up for Mario! It is not something I would recommend you eat everyday, but worth a special occasion. We decided we could use the 30 minutes walk from the restaurant (near Washington Square Park) to Times Square and burn off some of that heavenly pasta and dolci.
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