Dinner @ Babbo

I'm back from break and catching up, so I thought I'd share one of the highlight experiences of my holiday break: Dinner at Babbo in New York. Babbo is Mario Batali's signature restaurant.

I had called ahead about a week in advance, and discovered that there were no available reservations. So, hoping for the best, we arrived at the restaurant at a few minutes after 5pm on a cold friday night, just as the bar was opening. There was already a line, but we managed to get ourselves on the list, and were seated at a little after 5:30. While we waited I enjoyed a green apple bellini at the bar which was quite tasty.

Isabel and I ordered the Pasta Tasting Menu and were rewarded with five courses of interesting pasta:

Black Tagliatelle with Parsnips and Pancetta
This was perfectly cooked and very black tagliatelle with extremely thin slices of parsnip which I think had been deep fried. Small pieces of pancetta were also mixed in, and the whole was served in a tasty but unobtrusive sauce. The flavor and texture was varied throughout, and each mouthful was a little different. A great dish.
Baccala "Mezzalune" with Black Olive Butter
These half-moon shaped ravioli were stuffed primarily with salt cod, which was pretty assertive; the bits of black olive on scattered on top were really necessary to balance out the flavor.
Garganelli with "Funghi Trifolati"
This dish was a knockout. Garganelli are tubular pasta from northern italy made by rolling up little pasta squares. Mostly, this was a dish about execution: plain pasta, excellent mushrooms, perfect flat-leaf parsely and a very light sauce were the only ingredients. At the table, our server grated a small amount of aged goat cheese over the dish.
Fernando's Pyramids with Passato di Pomodoro
These braised-beef filled pyramids of pasta were tasty, but the standout was the excellent tomato sauce in which they were dressed.
Pappardelle Bolognese
This was a very large and luxurious tasting portion of beautifully prepared Pappardelle pasta with a rich meat sauce. The pasta was piled up on the plate in such a way that cutting through it with a fork yielded eight or ten layers of pasta all in one bite, which I found really great. It was a bit like a lasagna in a way. The only significant service hiccup of the night happened in this course; our server brought the food, and then instructed us to wait while she fetched the appropriate cheese to top it. She never returned, and we felt a bit foolish to have food getting cold on our plates while we waited for the cheese. Eventually we dug in. Following this course, what was left on our plates remained, cold, for a really long time.
Panna Cotta al Vincotto di Lampone
On to dessert! This panna cotta (which is a silky egg custard) was served in a tiny cup, and was topped with just a splash of a rich wine reduction, which helped to balance the fat in the custard. The Panna Cotta had an intense vanilla flavor, and we were happily surprised to discover that hundreds of little vanilla beans had settled to the bottom of the cup.
Tortina al Cioccolato con Meringa
After finishing the panna cotta, and this dish didn't dissapoint; it was a tiny chocolate torte topped by a tiny meringue puff, roughly in the shape of a Hershey's Kiss. What was really clever was that meringue was browned on top, but still soft and foamy.
Zucchini Spice Cake with Olive Oil Gelato / Pumpkin Cheesecake
We were a little food-fatigued by this point in the meal, and I think we both felt that these two desserts (Isabel got one, and I the other) were not as exciting as the rest.
We also shared a really nice bottle of wine; as best I can recall it was a 1989 Refosco dal pedunculo rosso di Cialla from the far north of italy, and it was a great selection thanks to the somelier.

All in all, a great meal. The meal was a christmas present from my father-- so, Thanks Dad!

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