I went to Babbo for my dad's birthday last night. Every one was pleased with the whole food experience(waiter's were pretty steely cool) but I hit a couple of duds on the menu that are pretty much standards there from what I hear.
First the good.
Standouts: Tripe Parmigiana(best tripe in town bar none)
Slather it on the country garlic bread that comes with it and pass out from ecstasy.
Lamb Shank Special: Huge portion, tender, sat in a nice and thick bath of rapini and cannelini beans. The birthday boy loved it.
Whole Grilled Branzino: Would be a bit too mild if not for the lemon oregano jam that turns it into something extraordinary.
Whole Grain lovers will appreciate the roasted beet farroto(a very filling warm wheatberry and beet salad side dish)
I didn't expect much from what I remembered of their desert menu but I was dead wrong. The selection of sorbetto and gelati in small glass egg cups were excellent. Nice clean flavors(hazelnut, honeydew, blood orange, pistachio...etc.) presented beautifully in little glass egg cups with a sliver of the unprocessed fruit sticking up as an ID tag. Dense Hazelnut flourless(?) was dense and had that cocoa hockeypuck appearance that is now a prerequesite on every NYC upscale restaurant regardless of nationality. Nicely offset with an orange sauce and a side scoop of hazelnut gelato. Dead on winner though was the Pistachio Semifreddo. It was a dense yet thin layer of chocolate cake with a slab of pistachio semifreddo on top and then the whole thing covered in a frozen chocolate shell and spearheaded by a chocolate curl. Perfect blend of flavors and textures. An ideal dessert right up there with my former favorite Pistachio Tortoni from Esca.
Not so great:
For Pasta The Mint Love Letters were almost medicinally minty and if pureed would have made a great mouthwash were it not for the spicy lamb sausage sauce. The flavors were just off balance.
Pumpkin Lune (basically ravioli) had a lovely filling and rich butter coating but you have to be a huge Sage lover for this one.
Calamari Sicilian Lifeguard Style. More of a crowded soup of flavors that don't all agree with what they should be doing together. Sweet things, raw leeks, unpitted olives(awkward to spoon up a big ladel of the stuff and chip touth on the pit). I found pine nuts, caper berries, cannelini among other things. Seemed more like something I'd throw together from leftovers than something planned to be on a menu for the last four years.
It's only my second visit in four years but I think ordering carefully here is a necessity.
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