Message to Mario Batali - get your house in order.
While I absolutely love(d) the food at Babbo during
numerous visits, I will never return to the restaurant.
Babbo is plagued by a sympton suffered by all too many
"restaurants of the moment." The management begins to
truly believe that it is a privilege to dine at their
restaurant and that they are more important than the
Since I dined at the restaurant often before their 3
star NY Times review, I was able to see the
transformation first hand. They used to treat their
guests as welcomed friends. They would go out of their
way to accomodate patrons and couldn't have been more
gracious. Then like clockwork, everything changed.
The maitre d', in a laughable parody of power going to
one's head, began to barely acknowledge our existence,
to roll his eyes at customers making reasonable
seating requests, to preside over his list like some
3rd rate Steve Rubell.
The waitstaff itself is competent and generally
friendly and accomodating. But the management, from
the maitre d' to the wine steward to Mr. Bastianch
himself, has a serious attitude problem. You would
figure that any decently run restaurant would treat
all customers well, but at the very least would make
some attempt to recognize their loyal patrons and at
least try to act as if they were happy to see you.
Perhaps greet you when you enter, honor a request to
be seated downstairs, apologize when you are forced to
wait 40 minutes for your table, not seat you at a four
person table when you are a party of six.
Although the food is truly exceptional, no food is so
good that I would ever be willing to put up with
attitude that accompanies the meal. Hopefully Mario,
who seems to be a decent person and is unquestionably
a wonderful cook, will solve the problem before it is
too late. But then again, this is NY, the only city
where a great many people actually enjoy being treated
like crap, feel as if a restaurant's greatness is
truly affirmed only after they are forced to suffer
through a great many indignities, because, hey, only a
really great restaurant would be able to get away with
such behavior, and besides, could the throng of
patrons busting down the door all be wrong? Well for
those people, Babbo may be your perfect restaurant.