Babbo has long been one of my favorite places - I've often posted comments about past visits on this board. I hadn't been for a while. I returned with out of town friends Saturday night.
While some of the dishes were still terrific, others were not - a marked change and a really big disappointment. Here's a rundown:
For starters we ordered the lamb's tounge, octopus and the pig's foot milanese. The pig's foot has always been one of my favorite items on Babbo's menu, and it was as good as ever. The lamb's tounge was also very good, but the charred octopus disappointed all of us. It lacked any flavor.
We shared two pasta dishes- the beef cheek ravioli with truffles - which in past visits has been fabulous. It was good, but not great.- absolutely no discernable taste of truffles or sauce. The second pasta dish was a very simple penne with mushrooms, in a simple sauce (butter with a bit of cream?) which was great. The mushrooms had been cooked very slowly, which brought out every bit of flavor. All of us loved it.
My friends split the osso bucco. While it was okay, it was not any better than osso bucco you can get at any mom and pop Italian all over the city,( or for that matter, that I can make ) and certainly not anywhere close to the fabulous osso bucco I've had at Babbo in past years.
I ordered the fennel dusted sweetbreads. I love swetbreads- they're one of my favorites. But boy, were these ever a big letdown. Maybe it was their size- the three sweetbreads on my plate were the largest sweetbreads I've ever seen. But where was the lovely buttery flavor characteristic of sweetbreads? These were absolutely bland. Even the balsemic sauce and fried fennel leaves could not save them.
For dessert we had the walnut torte and olive oil gelato. Again, okay, but not great.
On the plus side, service was very good. Unlike some people on this board who complain about the servers at Babbo, I've never had anything but professional, warm and friendly service.
I was surprised when I heard last week that Michelin had downgraded Babbo. But after Saturday night, I see why. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is just a temporary downhill slump.