Wow, great trip. I want to thank the board for all the good advice. All of my concerns were for naught. We flew into Islip (great little airport) Tuesday, August 5, spent time with family on Long Island, went into the City on Sunday, and left Monday. Celebrated our 38th anniversary at Babbo.
Given the recent negative comments regarding service at Babbo, I had wondered if we should be going. We have not been to NY in at least 12 years. I was worried that our special night might be spoiled because we were not regulars. However, I decided to keep our Babbo reservation based on reassurance from this board and because I kept drooling over the menu at their net site.
Babbo bottom line: Fantastic food and wonderful service. Best pasta Ive had since the mid-1980s somewhere on the Upper East Side. We had reservations for 10 PM. Arrived an hour early, just in case there was an opening. The very friendly young woman at the desk checked with the maitred to see if a table was available. He, also very friendly, answered in the negative. The hostess suggested we walk around the neighborhood and return at 9:45. We enjoyed the walk, and especially enjoyed the Gourmet Garage grocery. You guys in the city are so spoiled. We have to depend on mail order for these types of food items.
Table was ready at 9:45 when we returned. We had seriously been considering the pasta tasting menu with accompanying wines. However, we wanted several pasta items not on the tasting list. Based on consultations with our waiter, we ordered as follows: one Lamb Tongue Salad (to be split at our waiters suggestion); an order of Lune as our second course (also split); an order of Beef Cheek Ravioli and an order of Love Letters for our main course.
We stayed with the house wines (Vermentino, followed by Montepulciano). Im not sure why. Perhaps I was overwhelmed with all the choices and just did not feel like tackling wine. Both wines were very good. I must say the service was great even though ordering house wines and pasta lessened the total bill, and thus, to some extent, the tip.
Our favorites? Hmmmmm. Tough one. The Lamb Tongue Salad was incredibly satisfying, rich, filling, and decadent. Splitting one was perfect. The Lune was made with sweet potato rather than the pumpkin I expected. Nevertheless, it was lovely, light, and delicate. The Love Letters were filled with an explosion of mint. Very unusual taste, interesting, and delightful. The Beef Cheek Ravioli may have been our favorite. That surprised me, as the taste was not that unusual. Yet, it was somehow just perfectfull of flavor, pasta that had a texture of velvet. Damn, Im getting hungry just remembering.
We were much too full for dessert. So, we had some anywayminiature servings of sorbetti and gelati. Perfect as a finishing touch.
We were seated in the upstairs dining area. Interesting crowd, very mixed in terms of styles and dress. Overall, a non-stressful atmosphere (especially when around 11:30 when they began playing an early Red Hot Chili Peppers album in its entirety).
As a final touch, a woman (Im assuming a manager) asked us about our dining experience when we were walking out of the restaurant. We raved about the meal, and then asked about catching a cab. She proceeded to escort us outside, found a cab, and told us not to wait so long to return to the City.
Other meals: We had sandwiches at Carnegie Deli early Sunday afternoonone Pastrami and one Corned Beef. We both preferred the Pastrami. While not an expert on either, both were good. We left very little on our plates. Question: The woman next to me (boy, you guys sit close together in delis) sliced her pickles neatly before eating. The woman looked at me oddly when I just picked up a pickle with my fingers and ate it while waiting on our sandwiches. Is that a deli faux pas?
Based on this board, I had considered the 2nd Ave Deli and Katz. However, since we were staying close to Central Park, the Carnegie worked better for us. We had planned on splitting a Rueben before leaving Monday morning, but I just couldnt get in the mood. So, we just stopped in at one of your little delis and had bagels, muffins, and coffee for very little money.
Very quickly now, on non-food issues. We walked around the 9/11 Site. It is a most sobering experience. I cant imagine what it is like for residents. We walked around Battery Park a bit then headed uptown. We managed to avoid the parade (that was a surprise).
We spent most of our Sunday afternoon and Monday morning walking aroundGrand Central Station (absolutely stunning), Times Square (different than I remembered, very crowded from the parade, which made it even more interesting). Walked up 5th Ave to the Park, and walked through portions of the Park. We considered seeing a play. Decided not to because our time was limited. Our favorite memories, other than the food, of New York were walking, admiring the buildings and the vast array of humanity.
Again, thanks much.