MM and I rang in the new year here in NYC at Babbo, Mario Batali’s restaurant near Washington Square Park. We had to make reservations a month in advance, which proved to be a feat. Luckily, our friend was nice enough to use his day off from work to stop in to make the reservation because they wouldn’t answer the phone.
There were six of us – MM, his parents who came back to America with us from Italy, our closest couple of friends, and me. I was curious to try the food and experience the restaurant considering my involvement in the restaurant industry and my personal favorite Italian restaurants.
From the beginning, I was not impressed with the layout of the restaurant. We were there a few minutes early and obviously didn’t want to wait outside in the -10 degree weather. We had to stand in between seated tables and people eating dinner at the bar – trying to balance a cocktail as servers and patrons walked by the crowded space.
We were seated upstairs where the temperature varied between 60 – 80 degrees. The service was good, especially since they were able to bring over an Italian speaking gentleman to help MM’s parents with the menu (which was entirely in English, which is strange for a high-end Italian restaurant). The food was also good, but we have been spoiled with Scarpetta. I had the octopus antipasti and the whole brased branzino. The grilled octopus was delicious, but the branzino was very average and slightly dry. If they hadn’t drizzled it with olive oil at the table, I think I would have gone through five glasses of water.
We stayed at Babbo from 9pm until 1am, so I can’t say we weren’t content. They gave us a champagne toast at midnight (although I think Prosecco is more appropriate) and we laughed and chatted the way we do in Italy. It is a very nice restaurant, but not our favorite in the city. It’s one more win for Scarpetta in my book.