Three of us went to Babbo for dinner on Saturday night. I'd say that our experience was average.
Reservations were for 9 pm and we were seated close to 9:30 after standing by the bar constantly trying to keep out of the way of waiters, the host, other diners, etc. Very crowded and an awkward entrance area.
We were seated on the second floor and given menus. I spent some time going over the wine list but couldn't decide so asked the sommelier for a recommendation giving him some paramters in terms of what type of wine I was looking for and price range. He was extremely helpful and recemmended a bottle which we all enjoyed and was actually lower priced than what I mentioned. That was appreciated. Wine service was very professional.
Bread was brought but no butter or oil. The bread tasted exactly like the Italian loaf that I grew up with - I never did like it much even as a child! Later (after we finished our appetizers), when the waiter noticed that none of us were eating the bread he offered to bring butter or olive oil. We asked for the oil but he never brought it. After we had orderd everything we had also asked if he could bring a dessert menu to look at while we were waiting for our food but he never brought that either.
We ordered the following appetizers that we shared: the Grilled Octopus with “Borlotti Marinati” and Spicy Limoncello Vinaigrette and the Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage . The appetizers arrived while we were still nibbling on the amuse bouche of chick pea crostini. All of these dishes were excellent and I thought the combination of flavours was wonderful. We all enjoyed them very much. Since we were sharing, they split the pasta on separate plates for us.
For mains, we all ordered pasta dishes. The Chianti Stained Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu, the Pappardelle Bolognese and the Black Spaghetti with Rock Shrimp, Spicy Salami Calabrese and Green Chiles.
When we were ordering, my sister asked if the bolognese sauce was a traditional bolognese (i.e., made with milk and little or no tomato) and the waiter looked at her like she was from another planet and said it was a bolognese sauce. She basically said nevermind and just ordered it as it was obvious HE didn't know what a traditional bolognese is.
The timing between appetizers and mains was well paced. The two pappardelle dishes were very good. The flavours were exactly as I expected them to be - nothing creative but solid, tomato based dishes. The noodles were stuck to each other though and required some effort to seperate them to eat. The spaghetti dish was more unique in flavours and very tasty. However, when my friend first took a forkful of the spaghetti, they were crunchy - clearly undercooked - NOT al dente. We each tried her spaghetti and all reached the same conclusion. She stopped the manager and informed him that the spaghetti was undercooked. He went on to "educate" us on how black spaghetti is not like normal spaghetti and that it probably wasn't undercooked but he'd bring it back to the kitchen if she liked. He spoke in a somewhat condescending tone like she's never had black spaghetti before. She basically said forget it and kept the dish. The spaghetti that was at the bottom of the pile was cooked more and then the dish was more enjoyable.
After this we were quite full but since it was my birthday, we ordered the Pumpkin Budino with Espresso Gelato to share. It was very nice.
Overall, I'd have to say I was disappointed. The service was spotty and I would have expected better attention to detail (the oil, the dessert menu). I wasn't blown away by anything. Maybe my expectations were too high. I've been to Lupa and enjoyed it much more both for the atmoshpere and the food. I'd go back to Lupa and would not likely make any efforts to revisit Babbo.
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