One thing New York City has no shortage of is Italian restaurants. And while good, many of them are fairly unremarkable, serving up the classic, well-worn pasta dishes we all know well – but not much more. There are some that stand out, however, and among these, I would count Babbo, Mario Batali’s West Village restaurant and enoteca.
Way back in the day (er, this past April), my family visited New York. For our big splurge meal of the weekend, my sister selected Babbo. There, we opted to go big or go home with the pasta tasting menu, a seven-course feast complete with five pastas and two desserts.
To start, we also ordered the grilled octopus, a dish whose praises had been sung in many of the Yelp reviews I had read – and I had to agree; the octopus was well cooked and tasty.
Then came the pastas. We began with a black tagliatelle with peas and castelmagno cheese:
Second up was casunzei (a beet ravioli) with poppy seeds. While I don’t care for beets generally, I actually quite enjoyed this:
Our third pasta was a garganelli with funghi trifolati (truffled mushrooms):
The fourth dish was agnolotti al pomodoro. This might have been the simplest pasta dish we tried – and it also might have been my favorite one of all:
The fifth and final pasta was the pappardelle bolognese, and the tasty bolognese sauce took me right back to foodie nirvana in Bologna:
Then it was time for the two dessert courses. First up was the rhubarb and yogurt coppetta:
And then, a surprise: our second dessert was supposed to just be olive oil cake, but the waiters actually brought out four dishes for us to try. We would each literally take a bite from the dessert in front of us, then pass the dish to the person on our right, rotating until we had finished each one. We had a roasted white chocolate cheesecake with coconut:
And a lemon cake with olive oil and sea salt:
And a rhubarb crumble with ice cream:
And a little cake with pine nuts:
As if that weren’t enough, to top things off, our waiter brought out a platter of tiny cookies to share:
What I loved about Babbo was how excellent each dish was; there was no clear winner among the pastas or desserts, which I often find to be the case with large tasting menus like this. Among my family of four, each of us had a favorite pasta and a favorite dessert – and none of us picked the same dish for either course! It was high quality, flavorful Italian, and most definitely a meal to remember.