I am a big fan of Mario Batali.
I have been, since I was young, and watched Molto Mario on Food Network.
However, it had taken until this past week for me to get over to Babbo to finally try his Pasta Tasting Menu – and let me tell you, it was well worth the wait.
I have not been to all his restaurants, and still Del Posto is my absolute favorite, but it was a lovely evening and the menu shows off the talents of Mario’s executive chef Frank Langello and pastry chef Gina DePalma.
We started with an amuse of garbanzo beans bruschetta.
Our first course was a Black Tagliatelle with Charred Corn and Castelmagno. One of my favorite dishes of the evening, the tagliatelle had a faint, seafood taste to it, you could tell it was made with fresh squid ink and the corn was sweet and fresh.
The second dish was “Casunzei” with Poppy Seeds. It was a ricotta and beet puree ravioli and my favorite of the night. The color popped from the beets and the flavor was slightly sweet, but still had nice savory note to it. The dish was topped with a hard goat cheese.
The third dish was Garganelli with “Funghi Trifolati”. Perhaps my least favorite, only because I do not like mushrooms. I ate it, because I wanted to try everything set in front of me. The smaller mushrooms on the dish were cooked in a way that tasted more like beef than mushrooms and I actually did eat them and enjoy, but the larger ones were set aside. The pasta itself, was fine, more of an accompaniment to the rest of the dish.
The fourth dish was “Agnolotti al Pomodoro”. Little mini pockets of pasta filled with beef and a lovely pomodoro sauce. I enjoyed this dish, but it finished too quickly. I’ve always been a fan of agnolotti, especially ones done by Mario Batali and his team.
The final pasta dish was Pappardelle Bolognese. Fairly standard bolognese, lovely dish although nothing that stood out for me. The pasta was prepared perfectly and having fresh pappardelle is always preferable to me.
Now we move on to the dessert courses. Our first is a Sweet Plum “Delizia”. A lovely little plum cake topped with fresh whipped cream. I’m generally not a fan of cooked fruit, but this changed my mind. In fact, all of the desserts with cooked fruit this evening, changed my feelings. It was a flavorful, fruity, “plumy” tasting cake. Light and moist and a perfect start to the dessert tasting.
Our second tasting was a Chocolate “al Diavolo”. This was a delicious, thick dark chocolate mouse flaked with red pepper. It was just enough to give a little kick on each spoonful, but not enough to overpower the chocolate. This would have been my favorite of the three desserts, until we were surprised with what they brought out next.
Our final dessert was supposed to be Olive Oil Rosemary Cake with Olive Oil Gelato. Now, I love olive oil gelato. I know what you are thinking, but trust me, it is delicious. If you see it somewhere, try it. You’ll be surprised by how subtle the taste is and the little bit of fruitiness that comes how from the olive oil.
To our shock, only one of us received this dessert, the rest of us was presented with a different cake and ice cream pairing. It was something that the pastry chef liked to do with a group. It was so we could all have a taste and then share. In the end we had a pistachio semi-freddo topped with a chocolate shell. A strawberry tart with marscapone ice cream and a grape clafouti with an ice cream pairing I can’t remember!
Each one was delicious, but my favorite was the pistachio semi-freddo.
All in all, I wonderful dinner with great company, and I look forward to going back to Babbo again to try different items from the menu.