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Babbo review from JB

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Babbo review from JB

MM | May 5, 2005 01:24 PM

I posted a Babbo review a few days ago, after a visit with my dad, and I wanted him to post a review as well (being an out-of-towner). However, he posted his review UNDER mine, so I fear it might have gotten lost amid all the more recent posts. I think it's a superbly written review and I wanted to repost to make sure y'all read it. Thanks!

ahh Babbo….a great experience. Visiting my daughter from San Francisco where I am used to eating well. But I must warn you that I like food – too much for my own good. I enjoy eating seared foie gras with fig jam as well as a split bag of fritos filled with chili and cheese. That being said, New York City blew me away again. Wonderful food without any of that pretension that sometimes plagues even the great San Francisco institutions. Great pizza, bagels, pastrami - and on nearly every corner! The stromboli and house made sausages, as well as pastries in Little Italy, gelato at Otto, cheesecake at Elaine’s! Sorry, chowhounds, no real complaints. The food at Babbo was exquisite. You already know what my daughter and I ate – lamb’s tongue salad, trippa alla parmigiana, grilled octopus, mint love letters, beef cheek ravioli, sweetbreads. My bias in ordering food at most restaurants is to try things I normally can’t or don’t have the time to cook at home. Just a few notes: the texture and taste of the lamb’s tongue was superb. I love the taste of lamb, and the slightly crunchy texture of the tongues was a real treat. The runny egg yolk gave it a luxurious edge and the greens cut through the richness of the yolk. I love tripe, and this version was one of the best I’d had. It was mostly tender, but slightly chewy, and the tomato based sauce was not too overpowering. It reminded me of the tripe I used to have in Florence served from carts by the street vendors – very fresh and light, but Babbo’s was a bit more sophisticated. I especially liked the beef cheek ravioli. Extremely beefy, I also loved the addition of liver in the sauce, giving it a rich mouth feel that paired with the sliced truffles quite nicely. It all worked well with the mint love letters, whose initial herby-aromatic taste later gave way to a more substantial, spicier aftertaste (from the lamb sausage, I assume) and was a great juxtaposition to the rich, hearty ravioli. Next came the sweetbreads, and I was really proud of my daughter for ordering this. Unlike all sweetbreads I’ve eaten, these were very sweet and creamy, almost as creamy as brains. The only thing I can think of is that these sweetbreads were so fresh and clean that they didn’t need to be parboiled. Any thoughts out there? I enjoyed the pannacotta very much, again it was a texture thing. I’m not a big sweet eater and I had a hard time making out the saffron. But maybe by that time I had too much sensory overload to notice. Another thing that really impressed me was the utter lack of pretentiousness amid this fabulous food. The atmosphere was perfect for me. Casual yet attentive (I don’t like to dress up, and prefer more substance and less style). The upstairs dining area was lit well, not too noisy, and the staff was friendly, helpful, and professional. The price was cheaper than I expected – ($170 plus tip made it $210 for two, we had a few cocktails, and a glass of grappa at the end of the meal, but no wine) and I enjoyed myself immensely. Easily the best meal I’ve had in your great city in the years I’ve been coming. You all know that dining is such a subjective experience. Was it the atmosphere, the service, the food, or the fact that I was there with my only daughter whom I hadn’t seen in over six months? Yes, chowhounds, it was all of that – and that’s what makes eating out so wonderful.

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