Mario Batali’s Babbo

Babbo is *the* Mario Batali restaurant. Known for its bustling scene and snobby waiters, it’s been a favorite of hipsters, bankers, and celebrities alike. Oh wait, until Batali bit one of those hands. But we’ll ignore that for today.

Chickpea crostini 7/10: Always a good start to a Babbo meal.

I don’t know why they make the bread so crusty. It is fun to watch the waiters scape the crumbs away with a spoon instead of one of those folded metal things, but still. It cannot be fun for them.

Who ordered rabbit food! The arugula salad was good, but I dug around for a while before I realized that it was nothing but leaves under there.

Prosciutto 8/10: It’s just prosciutto, but perfectly sliced prosciutto. The bread was a little hard.

Marinated fresh sardines 8/10: It’s very good if you love sardines. It’s nice and soft to chew. The fish taste is still strong, but it doesn’t linger, which makes it more pleasant than more aged sardines.

Mushrooms? 5/10: I can’t remember what it is! uhoh!

Octopus 8/10: I always thought that babbo had the best octopus ever, but after having had The Harrison’s octopus very recently, I actually think that The Harrison has the better octopus! This one comes with a superior limoncello sauce though.

Black pasta with crab 7/10: Their last version of black pasta that Babbo had would have been a 10/10. It had crunchy bits of soppressata and instead of crab, it was rock shrimp. Every version of this pasta I’ve ever had had a hint of spice… except this one. It was bland and lacking somehow. But can’t say that I don’t love the al denta strands of squid ink pasta and the big lumps of crab meat.

Mint love letters 8.5/10: As minty as ever. these pieces of ravioli are jammed packed with the good green stuff. I like having this dish in between meat heavy pastas.

Bucatini 8/10: Guanciale or pig jowl is one of Batali’s favorite ingredients, and it’s not hard to see why. It adds a depth of flavor to the dish, and the fat helps bind the pasta and sauce together.

Basically all of Babbo’s pastas are very good. I could eat pasta there all day!

Quail 8.5/10: This portion is bigger than it looks at first glance. There are actually 2 quail in this picture. ┬áPersonally I would have found a more harmonious way to plate 2 birds, but I guess it’s not anything unnatural.

They’re cooked perfectly. The skin was a little sticky and seared, they removed all of the bones in the body, and the sauce on the bottom was tangy and sweet. It wasn’t the best quail I ever had, but it was pretty darn close.

Beef tongue 10/10: How many high end restaurants serve tongue and brains (e.g. the calf brain ravioli that we didn’t get this time)? So when you come upon one, you must take advantage of it. Tongue is one of the most tender meats on the body, and if it weren’t for the horrible habit most people have of trying to visualize what they’re eating moving around, it would be a better loved cut.

The meat completely melts in your mouth. The dijon mustard is perfect for the seared slabs of meat. You don’t have to go to a special region of Japan for this buttery cut meat, and by lowing, the muscle is naturally massaged every day. Every one of your big macs was once attached to some bovine with one of these. Learn to enjoy it before other people discover it and the price goes sky high.

Veal chop 7/10: I told the person who ordered this that it would be fatty, and it was. Most of Babbo’s main dishes are good but not great, and much too fatty for my taste.

If you go, I’d also recommend the ribeye for two or the duck, but the best thing to do is to eat all pasta and maybe share a main.

Babbo was where I had my first bite of homemade pasta, and Batali’s cookbook was one of my first. For that I will be eternally thankful. Everything here is done with a certain flair and seriousness that you must take as a given before you walk in. The staff here isn’t aren’t as fun as Batali on TV, but you have to forgive them for that, because the other issue at Babbo that has been hurting Batali and Bastianich in the news lately is the horrible wages at their restaurants. Although I hate to support a business with such inexcusable flaws, I can’t help but visit the iconic restaurant every once in a while. So if you do enjoy it here, remember to tip well. And by the way, because of the labor lawsuit, you can forgetting about bumping into the the Iron Chef.

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