My trip report continued.... I liked this 'later' set of restaurants that I tried better than the first few :)
BABBO: 110 Waverly pl
I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to this meal. It was the first thing I planned when I started thinking of this trip. And I was not at all disappointed!
I was a little upset that we had wasted our appetite earlier in the day at El Quijote becuase I was hoping to get the pasta tasting menu at Babbo. I wasn't hungry enough though so instead, made due with an app and a pasta. The waiter assured me that this would be enough food for a meal and he was right. I started with the Carciofi alla Romana which was heavenly. It was a smallish artichoke but was perfectly grilled. My BF ordered the Goat Cheese Truffles for app and we were disappointed - cheese was incredibly smooth but a bit boring. It was basically cheese balls rolled in spices. For my pasta, I ordered the Beef Cheek Ravioli. I had read all the reviews here first so I ordered this dish even though it didn't jump out at me on the menu and ... wow!!! This was the perfect ravioli. So soft and pillowy, topped with shaved truffles that complimented (not overwhelmed) the flavor of the meat. I'd go back to Babbo for this dish alone. My BF ordered the Mint Love Letters (also on Chowhounds' recs!) and wasn't fond of the taste. I thought it was fun and interesting, but can see how some would be turned off by the really strong mint. Dessert was an assortment of gelato and sorbet - 6 in all! Hazelnut gelato and the Grapefruit sorbet were standouts.
Service was outstanding. Waiter was friendly and knowledgable and although the place was busy, he took the time out to talk to us about the menu etc. Sommelier was equally superb - my BF has an aversion to sommeliers becuase most of the time they are snotty and try to steer you towards something a little bit higher than the price you indicated but here he did not. He recommended a Avignesi wine that was just right with our food. Busboys too were polite and efficient.
Altogether, this was a top-notch dining experience. I'm so sad that there isn't a Babbo here in LA that I can go to whenever I crave that ravioli!
KATZ'S DELI: 205 E. Houston Street
I couldn't leave NY without trying a deli and since there is much debate (especially on the LA board) about the best pastrami, I had to visit Katz's. I was impressed with my first bite into the pastrami - the meat was tender and warm. After a few more bites though, the meat became slightly gristly and the bread sad and soggy. Pickled tomatos on the side were a nice touch. So, for the record, I think Langer's in LA wins as best pastrami ever! The oustanding rye really rounds out the sandwich too.
Lombardi's: 32 Spring St
We went here on a friend's recommendation as "best pizza" in NY. My girl friend and I really wanted to try the clam pizza but that was nixed by the fellas so instead, we ordered a large pie with sausage, olives, red onions and garlic. Good stuff! I'm not a huge pizza fan though so I don't have much to compare it to but I was happy with the meal. Toppings were of good quality and the dough was terrific - a little burnt on the edges, but just chewy enough.
JOE'S SHANGHAI: 9 Pell St
The LA board constantly gets the question "I'm addicted to the soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai. Where can I find some here?" So, my interest has been peaked and I dragged my friends here for lunch. I was not disappointed with the soup dumplings as they are very good - meaty, juicy and flavorful. I prefer the skin to be a little bit thick and Joe's was spot on (for me anyway). Out in LA, the current soup-dumpling champ that is often recommended is DinTaiFung and for me, Joe's Shanghai is just a notch better. They aren't as 'delicate' tasting - I feel like I can have a good hearty lunch here. They're bigger too. The other dishes we had (Eggplant and Shanghai Noodles) were mediocre but I'd be happy to return and try out other dishes to go along with some more of their soup dumplings!
EILEEN'S: 17 Cleveland Place
Stopped by Eileens before heading to the airport and although I was full from Joe's Shanghai, I managed to stuff a chocolate cheesecake down. :) I wish I could have brought some home with me as gifts! Rich and creamy but not overly so. I'm not usually a big fan of sweets but this I liked very much.