My 2nd dinner at Mario Batali’s Babbo

I’ve had multiple people tell me that Babbo was the best meal of their lives. Considering that you can make reservations one month before your dinner, the demand for a table at Babbo is high. Even after you make the reservation, you have to call a separate line to confirm your reservation a couple of days before. Despite calling a month in advance, I had to accept dinner reservations at 10:30 pm on a Sunday (stupid East Coast reservation time difference). I gladly took it for the chance to eat at Babbo.

Full house at 10:30 pm even on a Sunday. The place was popping.

Babbo definitely impressed me on multiple fronts. First, I liked how even though there was also two of us at dinner, they gave us a table that could seat four. There’s nothing I dislike more than feeling squished next to your neighbors and not having enough room on my table for food. I looked around and we weren’t the only ones who were given a larger table.

Second, service was impeccable. Our waiter was warm and friendly and actually gave us his opinion on the food. I get annoyed when I’m trying to choose between two dishes and I ask the waiter/waitress for a recommendation.

“I don’t know. They’re both so good but just different.” -Normal stock response

Thanks, genius. That helps me none. There’s a reason why I’m asking you for help. Don’t cop out on me. I was trying to decide between the Spaghettini with Spicy Budding Chives and a One Pound Lobster and the Chianti Stained Pappardelle with Wild Boar Rag. Our awesome waiter pointed out that the Chianti pasta was unique. My friend chose the Garganelli with “Funghi Trifolati.”

Waiter explained that the pasta was red because it'd be soaked in the Chianti sauce.

Funghi never tasted so good.

When I’m eating at a nice restaurant, my expectations on the temperature of food is high. I expect my food and plates to be piping hot. You can imagine my excitement when my pappardelle came out steaming. My papparedelle was wonderful. You could taste how fresh all the ingredient were and my pork was tender and not heavy tasting. Chianti Classico is one of my favorite wines and I’ll have to see if I can replicate the dish somehow. The picture of my friend’s mushroom pasta does not do it justice. While it looks incredibly simple, her garganelli was full of flavor and the mushrooms were so good. I like how the pasta didn’t feel overly greasy, even though the sauce was mostly olive oil based.

I had such a difficult time trying to decide between two desserts, so we got both! I’m so glad I have friends who give into my foodie needs. We ordered the warm, cherry upside down cake and the saffron panna cotta with rhubarb compote and sorbetto.

I wanted a gallon container of this panna cotta.

Cherry cake with toasted almond zabaione.

While the cherry cake was good, the real star was the saffron panna cotta. It was light with that perfect custard-like consistency and the rhubarb sorbetto paired with it perfectly. Definitely, one of the best panna cottas I have ever had (San Francisco’s Cotogna also has an excellent one). My only complaint is that it’s so small! I wish it was a little bit bigger because I didn’t want my out-of-body panna cotta experience to end. The cherry cake was solid but just felt so heavy after the panna cotta.

While not a cheap dinner, Babbo is actually reasonably priced for a high-end restaurant. I’ve eaten at North Beach restaurants that charge $20-$30 for a pasta dish that was not nearly as good as Babbo’s. My Chianti pasta was $23, but Babbo’s service and atmosphere were both fantastic.

I wish I could have tried the pasta tasting menu, but it was 6 courses and everyone at the table has to participate. My friend and I had each eaten a slice of NY pizza around 7:00 pm and neither one of us could eat a tasting menu. I’d love to go back to Babbo and try the pasta tasting menu or even try one of Mario Batali’s other restaurants. At least I learned my lesson. Next time, wake up at 7:00 am to make a reservation one month in advance!

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