One month before her trip to New York last weekend, TPS did the unthinkable and stayed on redial for 20 minutes. Thanks to her perserverance, she managed to score a table for 4 at Babbo on the 2nd floor (always preferable v. noisy and cramped 1st floor), not at 5 pm, nor at 11pm, but at a civilized 615pm, perfect for a long tasting menu that lasted north of 3 hours.

We had: 

culatello

1. A plate of Culatello with Pumpkin in Scapece – The thin piece of cured ham layed on the white plate like a rose-colored lily pad, trimmed in a thick white ribbon of fat that instantly melted in your mouth. Pumpkin cubes that were lightly marinated in a sweet and sour sauce provided contrast texture and flavor-wise.

hedgehog-less pasta

2. Pappardelle with Hedgehogs and Thyme – Imagine our disappointment when the spicy specimen we were expecting was nowhere to be found! The hedgehog in question turned out to be hedgehog mushrooms (very meaty and earthy variants similar to chanterelles) bathed in a luxurious butter sauce and dotted with fresh thyme. Being the temple for pasta, the smooth chewy flat pappardelle noodles were unreproachable.

3. Duck Tortelli with Sugo Finto – We were really looking forward to this dish, but it failed all of us. The duck taste was lost in the goat cheese stuffing, which was too tangy and overpowering.

venison

4. Grilled Venison with Acorn Squash Caponato and Mint Pesto – Perfectly cooked slices of venison, soft and chewy and encrusted with a light spicy coating that matched up well with the slightly sweet vegetable side which included the zestiness of mint, the sweet mellowness of acorn squash and nuttiness of pinenuts. If only there were more slices to go around.

coach farm’s finest

5. Coach Farm’s green peppercorn goat cheese with fennel honey – Is it travesty to declare the cheese course as my favorite that night? The amber honey really did me in, accentuating the creamy richness of the semi-hard cheese, while the peppercorn in the cheese and the fennel seeds in the honey both added a touch of spiciness.

final course

Courses 6-8: All sweets, including a mini ring cake soaked in rum, topped with cream and dressed with diced pineapple and pomegranate seeds; the most decadent scoop of hazelnut gelato drenched with viscous chocolate sauce and sitting on top of bitter-sweet chocolate biscuit crumbs. An intense piece of preserved fruit (prune/ cherry?) lays hidden until you bit into it; a trio of desserts for the three of us including a sourish pineapple tart, an olive-oil and banana cake and a thick vanilla mousse. By the time the amaretti mirengue and chocolate biscotti appeared on our table with the check, we were severely high on sugar.

Besides all that food, TPS also gave Gerrie and I a short wine lesson, introducing to us a light Soave and a fruity, very drinkable Ruche from the Piedmont area. We swirled and sniffed for as long as we sipped, marvelled in the change in scent and mouthfeel as the wine opened up throughout the evening, and did a sniff test using different glasses. The results were convincing enough for me to want to run out and buy some good stemware.  

Our dinner at Babbo on Sunday was by no means perfect. The fourth person in our party had to miss dinner as she arrived at the restaurant an hour before our reservations due to a miscommunication. Our most anticipated dish – the duck tortellini- was an unequivocal miss. The best of Babbo (i.e. the many offal dishes, the signature pastas) were missing from the tasting menu. But after a hectic weekend planning huge dinners, rushing around town, absorbing opera (both carmen and bluebeard were fabulous though), the languorous meal was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Babbo

110 Waverly Place (Bet 6th Ave & Macdougal St)

www.babbonyc.com

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