In a city like New York where restaurants succeed or fail in a heartbeat, Babbo is a model of restaurant perfection. Babbo has managed after 8 years to still feel like a secret society. After waiting over a month for our reservation we arrived at the packed trattoria in Greenwich Village. We sipped cocktails at the rustic wood bar for a few minutes until our party of four had all arrived. A few desperate diners were eating at the bar where you can just walk in and order food, if you are lucky enough to score a stool. Our party was ushered through the lower dining area to our waiting table on the second floor. White tablecloths draped tables adorned by candles which cast a warm glow over the room.
The menu, with daring and bold food combinations, is worth studying for a few minutes. We debated ordering one of the two tasting menus. Babbo offers a pasta tasting menu as well as a traditional tasting menu. Since the entire table must participate in the tasting menus we opted to order a la carte instead. Babbo’s service was impeccable. Our waiter thoughtfully and patiently helped us design our own tasting menu of sorts to satisfy the entire group. We ordered a roasted beet salad with ricotta, Prosciutto San Daniele with black pepper, and salumi antipasta as first courses for the table to share. As a second course we decided on two pasta entrees. Babbo will split pasta meals as a second course. We shared the Bucatiniall’ Amatriciana with hot peppers and pecorino. The sauce was surprisingly sweet with a little kick, but not really spicy. Babbo’s signature Beef Cheek Ravioli with crushed squab liver and black truffles was heaven. The ravioli dish is delicious and must be ordered. The pasta portions were generous even after being split up. I am a true pasta lover so I ordered a pasta as my entrée while the others ordered fishes and meat. The whole grilled Branzino was the most impressive presentation wise out of the four meals. The fish arrived at our table for my friend to view before the final preparation. The white fish was delicate and light accompanied by roasted cardoons and lemon oregano jam. My other two dining companions ordered the grilled lamb chops. I tried the tenderly cooked lamb and it was simply superb. Last, but not least I ordered the Pappardelle Bolognese which was traditional and divine.
We finished off our meal with some Limoncello and a plate of biscotti and cookies to share. Our own tasting menu worked out in the end. We were all able to taste some of the best Babbo has to offer. Although the next time I go back, and there will be a next time, I intend to try the pasta tasting menu. I will just have to make sure everyone at my table agrees or I might have to go introduce myself to a few strangers.