BABBO: Round 2 (West Village)

Round two of dining at Batali’s apple was underway by 6:30pm.  There was different lighting from last week because well, the sun was out and I didn’t realize that the dining room had a sunlight!  It was  Fashionista’s going away dinner and it was 3.5 hours of eating and laughing our asses off.  GREAT times.  Now onto the details…

So we decided on doing a la carte also.  Our waiter was younger and more soft-spoken than the one I had last week, reminded me of Bocelli, however, still very knowledgeable.  Service at a 6:30 is definitely more personal than at an 8pm one from last week.   The fact that the four of us were a bit loud didn’t seem to bother anyone but rather we had full attention of our head waiter, several waitstaff and the sommelier actually was smiling and engaging this time around. 

Onto the food.  The official kickoff of any high-brow meal is going to be the amuse bouche (exact translation is “happy mouth”) which is usually the small plate that comes compliments of the chef to get your appetitite going.  Both weeks I dined here, we were served Babbo’s signature amuse bouche–Chickpea Bruschetta.  It is a very rustic, North Italian preparation where the the chickpeas were coated in an olive tapanade and served heaping over a toasted crostini.  The combination of the soft chickpeas and the crunchy crostini was a great textural contrast–perfect start to a good meal.

Next, Brewmaster and I ordered Antipasti:  I, the Grilled Octopus and he the Pig’s Foot Milanese.  So I was raving about the porkalicious dish last week and it was still just as good, however, all I have to say is Batali knows how to do octopus.  OMG.  So perfectly seasoned and grilled to absolute perfection.  The meat was charred perfectly only on the outside and so incredibly tender on the inside.  Anyone who knows octopus, knows how hard it is to actually get right.

Next up were all of our Primi dishes:  Fashionista went with the perfect Beef Cheek Raviolis, Brewmaster went with the Goat Cheese Tortelloni, Lil Miss Chatterbox went with the Orrechiette with Sweet Sausage and I went for the gusto with the Black Spagheti with Seafood and Spicy Calabrese.  Each one of these dishes are perfectly crafted.  I’m not going to get into the beef cheeks nor the goat cheese ravioli, because I already did.  Moving onto the Orrechiette…it was mediocre.  The flavors were good, but not complex enough to meet the high bar that Batali has set for his pasta dishes.  If you recall my comment last week about the Lobster Spaghettini dish, well this falls slightly short of even that dish.  I like my pasta al dente for sure, but the Orrechiette were just a little too dense and al dente for my taste.  The sweet sausage was delicious, but not memorable.  Overall a very good dish, but “good” doesn’t (and shouldn’t) cut it at Batali’s gem.  My primi was the Black Spaghetti with Rock Shrimp, Spicy Salami Calabrese and Green Chiles.  This was a very well-done dish.  The squid-ink stained spaghetti, as it should be, was perfectly al dente.  The shrimp were cooked to perfection and the Salami Calabrese and the chiles elevated the dish up several notches with a surprising kick of heat.  The salami not only added heat, but its crunch provided great texture to this pasta dish.  Next to the beef cheek ravioli, this was my next favorite primi dish tonight. 


Onto our main dishes.  Fashionista ordered the rabbit, Brewmaster ordered the quail, Lil Miss Chatterbox ordered the branzino and I opted for the seasonal special of the night–the soft shell crab.  Since I had the rabbit last time, I will leave you to read Part I since the dish was consistently good.  Next, as I mentioned, I had the soft shell crab special of the night.  I opted for this because they are in season right now since it’s shell-shedding season for them.  It was deep-fried crab served with a light airy pesto and fava beans.  Truth be told, it was my least favorite dish of the night.  Deep-frying the crab is such a predictable way of preparing it, that I was disappointed.  The pesto was light, airy and very fresh but overall, the dish was not memorable for me.  Next up, the branzino.  So the presentation was a little different than what I had observed last Saturday.  They de-boned the fish, but it the filets were served whole.  The fish was grilled very well and the oregano lemon jam served on the side was a perfect compliment to this sea bass.  Last, and definitely my favorite dish of the night was Brewmaster’s quail.  WOWOWOWOW.  It was the best entree I have had at Babbo between my two visits.  The meat was grilled to a perfect temperature and it was SO flavorful.  The flavor should be credited to the fine-aged saba that Babbo uses.  “Saba” is a syrup used in Italy made from fresh-squeezed grapes.  This was the staple prior to balsamic vinegar becoming a staple.  The intensity of saba is a wonderful blend for gamey meat like quail.  It was bone-sucking-at-a-$$$$-restaurant good. 



 I will wrap this up with the Dolci.  We had the chocolate cake again, and yes it was still a desert that gets me off everytime I eat it.  Intense cocoa flavor, perfect balance of the hazelnut gelato and the orange essence in the sauce.  Dolci perfection.  This time though, we had the Torta di Ricotta e Pere” with Honey- Roasted Walnuts and Pecorino (Ricotta cheesecake to you and me) which Fashionista ordered, and it was spectacular.  It was light, airy with the right amount of tartness and sweetness.  The roasted walnuts added the perfect amount of crunch texture to this cheese-based dessert and the sweetness of the pears softened the sharpness of the pecorino.  It was a very skillful dessert and my second favorite overall. 

The coffee service was perfect, just like the overall service at this establishment.  The service makes this restaurant very diner-friendly regardless of whether you are a foodie or have no clue what  saba is.  Both meals I’ve had here have left me yearning to make my next reservation before I walk out.  Mario Batali, I heart you.  




1 Response to “BABBO: Round 2 (West Village)”

  1. 1 Fashonista :-)
    June 24, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    goodness reading this is making me soooo hungry and my measly peanut butter samich is sooo not cutting it right now!!

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