Once I learned that I was going to be treated to dinner by our own Abbylovi, I decided that Babbo would be the place, since I had yet to give it a try (though I was really hoping i could convince her to take me to Alaine Ducasse). After perusing the spring menu online, we decided that the pasta tasting menu presented the most interesting array of dishes. The tasting consisted of the following 7 courses:
Black Tagliatelle with English Peas and Ricotta Salata
Asparagus and Ricotta Mezzalune with Scallion Butter
Garganelli with Funghi Trifolati
Gnocchi with Braised Spring Lamb and Mint
Pecorino di Pienza with "Cinque Frutti"
Saffron Panna Cotta with Mango and Mango Sorbetto
The black tagliatelle was a nice way to begin. Though subtle and none too assertive, the fresh spring peas were light and the ricotta salata added a nice salty touch to the buttery sauce. The mezzalune presented a nicely assertive contrast to the first dish. The earthy hint of asparagus and the punch of the scallion were really well matched. The garganelli was my favorite. The flavor of mushrooms permeated the entire dish, and the texture of the pasta, I thought, was just right for it. Because we ordered the tasting menu, I had some regret for not getting the mint love letter dish that gets a lot of attention, but I have the feeling that the flavors predominant in that dish were also in the gnocchi course we had. The lamb was slow braised, tender and thick with flavor. I was less keen on the gnocchi in this course, but it could have been because I was getting a bit over-carbed at this point. The pappardelle bolognese was a solid version of this standard meat sauce, this version made properly with ground veal (at least I think). I could only take a few stabs of this course, however, having reached my limit, and trying to save room for the dessert courses. The cheese course was a nice touch with honeyed dried fruit. Besides the panna cotta, we were given a dessert of pecan tart as well. I was looking forward to the panna cotta, but it left me a bit disappointed. The mangos used in the dish could have been riper, and the sorbet was flat; the panna cotta suffered from a similar flatness. The tart was better, but the mocha gelato that accompanied it was the bigger hit. Unfortunately, I was so full that I couldn't enjoy much of either.
It's not often that I complain about getting too much food, especially in more upscale restaurant settings, but this tasting menu was perhaps a little too generous. I barely had enough room for the last 3 courses. I think the tasting menu would be improved by omitting one pasta course and adding a salad course somewhere to break up the carb overload. This would, however, be a good way to go before running a marathon.
It was, overall, a very positive experience, and I would definitely go back to sample some of the other menu items, and hold back on the carbs.
Oh, and thanks Abbylovi!