Umami Mart Barware
A Night Out at Babbo
California Soul: Osteria Mozza (LA)

To celebrate Christi's bday the other night, we went to Babbo. I would be too embarrassed to blog this--regularly patronizing such the hype machine that Batali is--but the food was just too good not to share with you.

We walked in without a reservation- figured we would get there around 6:30 and take our chances. The guy at the front, who was there the last time I went, is a gentile fellow, and told us to wait for seats at the bar. Fine. We ordered drinks, we waited. "What's the Frequency Kenneth?" blasted in the background. Oh, Mario and his music. We loved the Mode though. Violator!

It's really cramped when you walk in, between the bar and the dining room. Servers taking orders, delivering food. Some drunk asshole totally fell into Christi. It was kinda funny. Anyway, standing there in the middle of all this commotion is not fun. But you gotta suck it up for the ultimate prize.

Just about an hour later, we actually got a TABLE! Right by the bar, tucked into a corner. It was romantic. The world doesn't need another Babbo review (or a second one from me- you're over it), but just let me show you the pics.

Babbo salumi: assorted meats cured in-house. Marinated onions (sweet) and olives. This was better than the Armandino salumi I got last time. Christi liked the veal (?) tongue. The "fatback" pictured below, is just cured pork fat! Like white sheets blowing in the wind. It was super intense- like nothing I have ever tasted. It was good with the onions.

Grilled octopus with "Borlotti Marinati": this was pretty awesome. Better than what I had at Mozza. Drizzled with this limoncello vinagrette, and sprinkled with some candied orange rind or something, on a bed of white beans. SO GOOD. It was too "oceany" for Christi though. I loved the tentacles.

Our server was super great- Travis. Props to this guy. He totally arranged the order of our dishes and suggested good, cheap wines. We asked him for his recommendation of a pasta, and he suggested the black pasta. BINGO. This was definitely my highlight of the meal. (At this point I was pretty boozy, and abandoned my camera inhibitions and started shooting with flash. Tacky!). They are also nice about splitting the orders for you.

Black spaghetti with rock shrimp, spicy salami calabrese and green chile: I have nothing to say except GET THIS DISH.

Mint love letters: just as good as the first time. Surprisingly hearty. A good way to end a meal.
When all is over, this is my side of the table, vs. Christi's side. Basically, you can't take me anywhere.

But then, this guy comes and magically puts a napkin over the table to make all my spills disappear.

So it's official- I am obsessed with Mario Batali's food. All the hype... well, it's all true. Batali is an ace. Classic and straightforward. Consistent. Casual and reasonably affordable considering it's a white table cloth joint. Our meal, all of this, plus 2 quarter things of wine, 2 glasses of sparkling wine, and a bottle of fizzy water was $140 total. You could spend as much at Lupa, his even more casual joint around the corner (I am not a fan of Lupa). You would no doubt spend even more in the shithole tourist traps in Little Italy.

As someone who spends her entire income on eating in NY (after rent), I'm telling you: surrender to the hype. Splurge a little. Wait an hour for a table.

110 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10011

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T: 212.777.0303

1 comment

  • One of the best and most memorable meals that I’ve ever had was a Babbo. My friend’s boyfriend proposed to her right there in the middle of the main course, down on his knees and everything. The restaurant fell quite as everyone realized what was up. My friend started crying and said yes. A cheer rose from the crowd and the sommelier swooped in for the kill. “Would you like champagne to celebrate?” Of course. $600 later…

    Craig on

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