If you're going to Babbo, I'd recommend ordering a la carte with an emphasis on pasta rather than getting the pasta tasting menu (excellent, but extremely rich) or the regular tasting menu described below. My opinions tend to differ from others on this board so take this with a grain but not a mouthful (see below) of salt:
Yesterday's tasting menu featured:
1) A pounded salt cod (bacala) carpaccio with a side of shaved fennel. This unfortunately was like ingesting a mouthful of sea water. I've never prepared salt cod, but my understanding is the degree of saltiness depends on how often and long you change the water when leaching/rehydrating the dried fish. They should have done so a lot more.
2) Chanterelle mushrooms with pappardelle - good, but not as good as the comparable truffled egg pasta I had last time on the pasta tasting menu (granted truffle season is over).
3) Duck ravioli with a reduced red sauce. Again, good, but not memorable like the goose liver ravioli on the regular menu.
4) Venison tenderloin with pomegranate sauce. Perfectly cooked. My wife has never had venison so this was the main reason we ordered the tasting menu. Very tender but far too gamey for my taste. I'm not complaining - I got what was promised. I've prepared venison from tenderloin steaks given to me by hunters. Some have been like this, others have been much milder. Depends on the individual animal and its diet.
5) One tasty piece of upstate NY goat cheese with honey and fennel seeds. The first time that something at Babbo struck me as miserly (the portions are usually generous) . In restaurants in Piedmont that Babbo reminds me of, the cheese course is 4 to 6 types of cheese, as it should have been here for two people.
6) Two or three desserts that we shared. Excellent, especially the hazelnut chocolate cake with gelato.
Wine: Prosecco by the glass - superb. The '98 Visconti Brunello was good but not memorable like the Manzone Barolo I've had in the past (my budget for wine is ~$80 and I always ask the sommelier to pick a particular type of wine for me in that range). I've found that I always love barolos and barbarescos while brunellos are hit and miss for my palate, obviously this is extremely subjective. The wine list, service and prices at Babbo can not be beat.
Service was excellent, there was a few glitches but can't complain, especially since we were seated upstairs, which is far better than down. Babbo is professional but doesn't take itself too seriously and I don't mind listening to Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones as dinner music. Bottom line: Last time the pasta tasting menu was so good, I reserved a table upon exiting with the maitre'd for 30 days hence (a trick learned from observing other patrons). This time I did not . . . .
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