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Restaurants & Bars 13

Dinner at Babbo

Pam Sommers | Aug 13, 1999 10:29 AM

We went to Babbo last night and I must say it was
sublime.

We did the pasta tasting menu of 5 diff. pastas, a
tiny little cheese course and dessert. We also sprung
for the matching wines option (7 selections) and
though it was expensive it was really worth it.(...and
the dinner was a birthday treat from my boss so - hey
- what the heck! Fortunately he is a world class wine
connoisseur and gormand and will not be shocked at the
Amex bill.) Tasting menu: $49; $85 with matching wines.

The multiplicity and depth of flavors in every single
dish was incredible - there wasn't a weak one in the
lot.

We were serve a litlle bruscetta of chick peas in a
savory tapenade marinade while we looked at the menu.
Also, the bread was crusty, earthy and fabulous. Cut
constantly off of fresh, 2'long loaves and served as
needed.

The tastings were as follows:

1 - Black tagliatelle w charred corn & rock shrimp was
luscious and oceanic with the caramelized corn kernels
adding sweetness and color. Musque Leonardo Chardonnay
'97.

2 - Chevre tortelloni with fennel. Two little hand-
folded packets of chevre in a creamy sauce
complemented by shreds of lemon rind and the fennel
fronds that looked like dill but weren't. Muller
Thurgau Abbazia di Novacella '95. Didn't love at
first sip (before food), but was excellent with the
dish.

3 - Gnocchi with braised duck. The gnocchi was
ethereal and the duck was shredded, lean and luscious.
Lagrein 'Perlhof' St. Magdalena '96.

4 - Bucatini all' Amatriciana with guincale, hot
pepper & Pecorino. Guincale is pig cheek which was
served in transclucent ribbons along with red and
white onion. This one was VERY rich! Refosco
Scarbolo '97.

5 - Papardelle Bolognese. The papardelle was
practically sheer and the sauce was loaded with rich
flavor. There was relatively little of it and it just
rocked! Barola C. Berton '94.

We were then served a thumb-sized dab of heavenly
robiola garnished with pea-sized husk tomatoes, thyme
sprigs and honey. This was served with an
unbelievably delicious, practically syrupy dessert
wine: Dindarello Maculan '95. Mmmm!

The dessert on the set menu wasn't appealing to me
(Saffron panna cotta. I just don't like herbs and
spices in desserts.) but the waiter couldn't have been
nicer about letting us select desserts off the full
dessert menu.

We had a peach crostata (a little rustic crumble-
topped tart) with divine vanilla ice cream and (I
NEVER order cheesecake!) a maple mascarpone cheesecake
served with sweet blackberries, a raspberry/creme
anglais (I think) sauce and a buttery cookie. These
were served with a sparkling dessert wine that was
also divine: Moscato d'Asti Cascinetta Vietti '98.

The only off notes in an otherwise perfect evening
were our waiter delivering our check unrequested, and
without asking if we wanted coffee. We didn't, but
this was kind of an odd end to otherwise exemplary
service on his part. I have read complaints about the
service at Babbo, but aside from that odd note,
everyone was cordial, friendly and professional from
the moment we walked in the door to the moment we left.

My other complaint was enjoying this fantastic dinner
while looking at a man wearing khaki shorts, a rumpled
short sleeved sports shirt and sneakers. I don't long
for the days of mandatory ties and jackets, but this
is unacceptable in this kind of a restaurant. I have
been dismayed to see similar attire at Picholine and
Firebird and other fine restaurants. I think it shows
disrespect for the restaurant and the other patrons.
If that's all you can muster, stay home and have a
pizza!

Anyway, we loved Babbo and recommend it highly. FYI -
downstairs is more "happening" but upstairs more
serene. If you have a strong preference, I'd specify
when reserving.

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