Still living off my amazing trip to Italy, I still dream of the wonderful meals I had there. Although Italy offered great gelatos and drool worth cappuccinos, I have to say it did leave me wanting one of my favorite Italian establishments in New York, Babbo. This place is just top notch, especially when it comes to pasta. It really sets the bar of what fresh, delicious pasta should taste like. I haven’t been to Babbo in a long time, but the hubs and I wanted to go back our favorite place for pasta.
110 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10011
Tuesday through Saturday 11:30AM – 1:30PM
Monday through Saturday 5:30PM – 11:15PM
Sunday 5:00PM – 10:45PM
The restaurant is open everyday, less Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Information current as of December 2014 – check website for current info.
The Pasta Tasting Menu at Babbo will set you back $75/per person and does require participation of the whole table. The only exception is if someone in your party wants to experience the Truffle Tasting menu. Otherwise, everyone will have to partake. Although some of the dishes may look small, trust me, the seven courses is more than enough to fill you up. And it’s a great introduction of the various types of pasta the restaurant offers.
I also loved the special attention to detail. They waiter gave us a copy of the pasta tasting menu so that we could follow along and remember what we were tasting. Sidenote: I always appreciate good stationary. And the menu was particularly lovely as it had a picture of the icon of the restaurant’s jester printed on the back, so that when the menu was light from behind, you see the icon’s silhouette. Ingenious! Can’t help but love these little touches.
Black Tagliatelle with Parsnips & Pancetta
This was my favorite dish of the night. I’m absolutely certain it has to do with the black tagliatelle. One of the reasons why I love Babbo’s pastas so much is that they’re so delicate and not the heavy fare that we often associate with pasta. The tagliatelle itself was smooth light and had a uniqueness to it from the squid ink. The sauce itself was also amazing. It basically just tasted like a cream sauce made entirely of butter. ha. But this is the part that makes it amazing. The sauce is not heavy, it doesn’t taste overindulgent and too creamy. It was just enough to highlight the great pasta and well with the crispy pieces of parsnips and pancetta. Because Babbo rotate their menu to incorporate seasonal items, this dish has changed slightly from the last time I had the tasting menu. The first time I tasted the Black Tagliatelle it was accompanied with fresh sweet corn. Hands down the best pasta dish I’ve had to date…..Babbo..if you’re listening. Bring it back!
“Casunzei” with Poppy Seeds
Casunzei is a traditional moon shaped pasta filled with red vegetables and cheese. In this case, the filling is made of beets, potatoes, and ricotta. This pasta was probably my least favorite. The pasta dough was still very nice, and it used a similar butter sauce similar to the Black Tagliatelle dish, but it wasn’t a stand-out or memorable dish compared to the other dishes in the set.
Another simple pasta dish that really highlights its primary ingredient: Funghi, aka Mushrooms. The mushroom flavor really came out in this dish, so if you love mushrooms it’s definitely for you. For people who, like my husband, don’t love mushrooms. It’s probably not the best dish. Regardless, he still picked his way around the mushrooms and enjoyed the dish.
Not going to lie…I was starting to get full by the time this dish rolled around, but how could I stop?! This was the first tomato sauce pasta in the pasta tasting menu and the sauce was delicious. Whereas the first three dish featured a simple and light sauce featuring butter, this dish has a delicious, light tomato sauce that has a slight sweetness to it. The pasta was filled with short rib. This is the first pasta dish where the delicate flavor of the sauce really took center stage. And I forced myself to slurp up every piece of yummy flavor the dish offered.
For me, this dish shouts Mario Batali. Honestly, I’m not sure why, but it’s just such a quintessential Italian dish that once again features the amazing a tomato sauce and of course meat. I believe this dish incorporates three types of meat: veal, pork and pancetta. This is definitely the heaviest pasta dish of all. This is most definitely the meat lover’s pasta and marries the slightly sweet tomato sauce with the meat.
This is the transition dish from savory to sweet, which is better known as a palate cleanser. It was light and and really did it’s job. Cleansed my palate. Half of the time, I’m not really sure what I was eating. All I know, is that it was clean, light, and worked as a great transition to the desserts.
Even though the pasta was the star of this tasting menu, Babbo did not disappoint when it came to desserts! Although the menu only mentioned the Olio Nuovo Cake, the waiter brought out two different desserts so that we could both taste something different! So thoughtful and appreciated!
Saffron Panna Cotta with Poached Quince and Saffron Shortbread
I was presented with the Saffron Panna Cotta. MMmM.. I love Panna Cotta, especially when it’s done right. It was so soft and luscious that the it jiggled ever so slightly as the waiter presented it. It was luscious and so velvety. The perfect panna cotta. And it paired nicely with the poached quince which was not cooked to a mush, but still had a bit to them and the crunch shortbread. Delicious!
Olio Nuovo Cake & Gelato with Laudemio 2014 New Oil, Two ways +NaCl
This was a fun foodie highlight of the meal. Before I dive into the Olio Nuovo Cake, let’s talk about that luscious green sauce around the cake. It’s no ordinary sauce, it’s actually olive oil. Luademio 2014 New Oil to be exact. According to the waiter, Babbo just received Laudemio 2014 New Oil which is the first press of olives – thus the brilliant, bright green color. The oil was definitely highlighted by the waiter as he brought out the bottle like a bottle of fine wine and poured it over the cake. He finished it off with some finishing salt.
The cake itself was very nicely done. It had a crispy exterior and cake like interior. You could definitely taste the olive oil used in the cake as the moistness didn’t taste like butter, but olive oil. The salt also added worked to highlight the sweetness of the cake. The olive oil was interesting. Definitely tasted different than your run of the mill olive oil. It was very rich and almost had an alcohol finish to it. Some last words of advice..
Make a reservation! I can’t emphasize that enough. Because this place is so popular, reservations fill up fast. There are several ways you can make a reservation.
- Call the reservation line at (212)777-0303. You will want to call exactly one month in advance to the numerical date you want to reserve. For example, if you want a June 30th reservation, call them on May 30th! If you want reservations on Dec 31st, call Nov 31st!..just kidding..there’s no such thing. For those odd days of the month were there is no numerial date available call the next available date. So for that Dec 31st reservation, call on Dec 1st! The reservation line is open from 10AM -12 PM EST (important to note the time difference for non-East coasters). I would highlgy recommend calling in the morning because tables do fill up fast. If you get a busy signal, keep trying! And if you get a reocrding of Italian music, keep holding! Someone will pick up.
- Open Table. They do have a small number of tables available via Open Table, but they are far and few in between. But it’s worth a try.
- Still can’t score a reservation? Babbo confirms existing reservations 24 hours in advance. Sometimes this leads to cancellations, so I would try calling the reservation line 1-2 days in advance of your desire reservation date and see if anything has opened up. Also worth noting, the restaurant also posts last minute openings on their twitter account. So go check social media as well!Still no luck? Just show up! Early though! There are a couple tables they keep unreserved each evening, so just show up before they open and try to score one of these coveted tables. If you want to go this route, show up at least 15-20 minutes before they open. I’ve actually done this before and was able to score a table. But! I showed up 15 minutes before the restaurant opened (when it was raining/snowing) and got the last unreserved table. So give yourself enough time so that you aren’t waiting around for the restaurant’s second seating of the night.
- Darn…still cant’ get in? Eat at the bar! there are a couple smaller tables in the bar area that serve the full menu! Try your luck there and see if you can snag a seat.
Good Luck Foodies! And you guys have to let me know….has anyone else experienced their tastings menu yet? Or tasted the first press olive oil? Sound off below!