Just wanted to thank those who offered their support of Babbo in my Babbo, Bouley or Cru post a few weeks ago. We ended up in the upstairs room at Babbo and while I would agree with some posters who've said part of what makes the experience so great is the "I'm finally here" feeling, I would say the food and overall experience definitely lived up to the hype.
We were seated right on time, but since all the bar stools are occupied by people dining at the bar and they don't seat incomplete parties, I imagine it could be an irritating place to wait for a dining companion to arrive or a table to open up. The upstairs and downstairs have two completely different feels to them and I'm really glad we were seated upstairs. The tables downstairs seemed crowded and the music was much louder there.
Service was helpful, upbeat and friendly. I thought it was a little odd that our waiter took the time to go over the menu with us but made no mention of the two tasting options. I guess this may have had something to do w/the time of our reservation (10 pm) but then he suggested that we split all the things we wanted to try, which made the meal last longer since it had more courses, so I don't know.
Started with the proscuitto San Daniele, which was served with micro greens and was sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. It was a little on the fatty side, but really good. We then had the mint love letters, which were like a spicy merguez paired with leafy mint and enveloped by perfectly al dente pasta. This dish was so good it's inspiring me to do some experimenting at home to try to recreate it....
Next came the beef cheek ravioli. The sauce was rich, again the pasta was cooked perfectly and the portion (even when split) was generous. I think the squab liver added to the richness. It was as though I was eating little truffled pierogies of beef with foie gras or something. Again, very good.
Secondi was the duck, which the waiter said was his favorite. I think the kitchen's timing was off, as it was definitely not quite warm enough when it was served. But apart from the temperature issue, I think the duck was tasty enough that at any other place, it probably would have been my favorite part of the meal. It's just that at Babbo the pastas are so insanely good that no matter how good your entree is, the pastas are probably destined to be the most memorable part of the meal for most people. We ended with the chocolate pistachio semifreddo and after dinner drinks that the waiter paired for us, which was the perfect end to a perfect meal.
If our reservation had been earlier, we probably would have eaten more, but I thought this was the perfect amount of food to share in order to leave full but not stuffed. I was pleasantly surprised all around at Babbo - not just by the food and ambiance, but by how helpful the sommelier and waiter were in paring the wines, how they encouraged us to sample wines they suggested and then order quartinos to share so that we had the perfect wine for each course, by the waiter's suggestion to split courses so that we could sample more and eat at a more leisurely pace, and by what I considered to be a very reasonable price tag in the end for what we'd had.
I think we got the "best of Babbo" introductory tour and can't wait to return!