Sunday, June 29, 2008

Late night dinner at Babbo

Last night we ate at Babbo. People I've talked to who have eaten here usually say things like "best meal I have ever had," "best restaurant ever," or some other superlative when describing their experience at Babbo. While I won't go out and proclaim that it's the single best meal I've ever had, I'm having a hard time coming up with places that were, across the board, better than Babbo. I think that the best dishes I had at Del Posto were better than the best dishes that I had at Babbo, but I thought that Babbo was stronger across the board. This could just be a function of what we ordered. I would be more likely to go back to Babbo because its not as expensive as Del Posto. On the other hand, it's pretty tough to get a reservation at Babbo. The only table we could get was at 11pm. It was well worth the wait, though.
I really liked the layout of the restaurant. You walk into a crowded bar. Behind the bar is a lower level dining room with a large table in the center that has a big center piece along with bottles of wine, olive oil, and vinegar. Some dishes, such as the branzino, are platted here after the waiter shows you the whole fish (or whatever dish you are ordering). Del Posto also has these serving stations. I think it's a really nice touch. A large staircase in lands in the center of the room, and leads up to a more spacious second floor dining room that has a large skylight and another large serving table in the center of the room. The sound track accompanying diners includes bands such as Led Zepplin, Guns and Roses, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The soundtrack would seem bit at odds with the food and the setting, but, surprisingly, it works.

As far as the service goes, I thought that the bartender was a bit brusque, but the rest of the staff was fantastic. I didn't get our waiter's name, but he was awesome, and gave us a number of great recommendations. Here's what we had.

Grilled octopus with "Barlotti Marinati" and spicy lemoncello vinaigrette.
Testa (pig's head) with pickled pearl onions and thyme vinaigrette.
Warm tripe "alla Parmagiana"
Mint love letters with spicy lamb sausage.
Black spaghetti with rock shrimp, spicy salami calabrese, and green chiles.
Goose liver ravioli with balsamic vinegar and brown butter.
Whole grilled branzino with cardoons and lemon oregano jam.
Grilled pork chop with cherry peppers, cipolline and aceto manodori.

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