(photo courtesy of Babbo)
I've been going to Babbo for a few years and have always enjoyed Mario Batali's personal take on Italian cuisine. He offers many items that you won't find anywhere else, and in the past I've enjoyed his pig's foot milanese, lamb's brain francobilli, goose liver ravioli, as well as standards such as the grilled octopus, roast duck, and lamb chops.
I returned a few days ago and tried the traditional tasting menu, which I've never done before. It was awesome.
Chickpea bruschetta - chickpeas on toast. The classic Babbo amuse bouche, as good as ever.
Duck Bresaola with House-Made Giardinier - thin slices of cured duck breast served with pickled vegetables. Nice and lightly balanced flavors here.
Pappardelle with Chanterelles and Thyme - perfectly buttery and delicious.
Duck Tortelli with “Sugo Finto” - ravioli filled with duck confit and ricotta with a pancetta reduction, Excellent dish.
Grilled Guinea Hen with Fregula “Verde” and Black Truffle Vinaigrette - perfectly cooked dark meat with a vegetable medley.
Coach Farm’s Finest with Fennel Honey - creamy goat cheese served with toast and a dollop of honey mixed with fennel seeds.
Fig and Rhubarb “Palacinche” - layers of thin crepes (about an inch thick) bound with mascarpone and fig jam and topped with candied rhubarb. A more flavorful version of the Lady M mille crepe cake.
Lemon “Biancomangiare” with Brown Butter Dates and Pistachios - light lemon custard with stewed dates and chopped pistachios. My favorite dessert course.
Chocolate Delizia “Sotto Cappello” with Salty Cashews - chocolate terrine with meringue and salted cashews. Quite rich but wonderful.
Petit fours - Italian cookies including meringues and biscotti.
I was beyond stuffed. This was a massive amount of food for $75 which was reasonable compared to other high end Italian restaurants in New York. The curious thing about it was the preponderance of poultry: two duck dishes and one guinea hen dish (and no seafood or beef). The preparations were all quite unique though so I didn't notice anything unusual until I started typing this blog entry.
The great thing about Babbo is that you can get the full menu at the bar, even extended ones like this. And they will not rush you out no matter how crowded it gets. Also, the restaurant just started serving lunch which is still pretty quiet and low key compared to dinner.
I'm glad that after 14 years Babbo is still going strong. Kudos to Batal and his team for making Babbo a consistently enjoyable place to dine.