after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Babbo: New York’s Vetri

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t says: How dare I insinuate that a well-known NYC restaurant is a “version” of a restaurant in Philadelphia!?  Babbo was first!  Babbo was created by Mario Batali – who’s this “Vetri” guy?  I apologize, I didn’t know what I was thinking – but I got your attention, right?  I actually have no intention of trying to make the case that Babbo is New York’s Vetri …  I will mention, however, that Batali and Vetri are friends, and Batali has been quoted saying that “Vetri is possibly the best Italian restaurant on the east coast.”  … I’m just saying …

g was recently gifted Batali’s The Babbo Cookbook (thanks l!).  It brought back memories of the two times that g and I had visited.  Because they were so long ago (over 2 years ago), I’m a little fuzzy and what in particular made it so great.  Was it the energetic, yet soothing atmosphere?  Was it the impeccable wine service?  Or was it the gigantic wine list that included actually good makers from actually good years for only moderately-increased prices?  Or maybe it was the food – the way it was rustic Italian with a twist here and there?  All of the above. Because I have very little specific recollection of our visits, as they were so long ago, and so much wine was consumed, I guess this really isn’t a “proper” review – but take my word for it that it was delicious overall.  Interestingly, I remember that none of the pastas are horrendously expensive, so it wasn’t too much of a bankbuster (I think they rely on wines and the meats/fish to bring in the $$).

I do remember a single dish.  I had it on our second visit – it was the end of February 2008.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was cold outside, and we had just squeezed in to one of the few tables of the restaurant specifically set aside for walk-ins.  I wanted someting warm and rustic.  Something that was meaty and heavier than just “pasta”.  And there I found it: gnocchi with oxtail ragu.  This was the first time that I had had oxtail outside of Chinatown, and, despite the unattractive name, it was amazing!  The gnocchi were perfect fluffy pillows.  The meat clung to the pasta via a very thin sauce that brought forth sweet onion, tomato, and, of course, meat.  The meat, itself was as tender as can be.  It was like taking Osteria’s gnocchi and combining it with Melograno’s short rib ragu (well, except using oxtail instead of short rib).  As a whole, I think it still holds the title as the best Italian gnocchi/pasta dish I’ve ever had (I use “Italian” as a qualifier because Talula’s did have a dumpling dish that was equally out-of-this-world, but not traditionally Italian).

I bring all this up now because in the cookbook, there are recipes for some of the dishes we actually sampled on our visits.  Among them is the oxtail ragu.  It’s time to get cookin’ …

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Written by afterdinnersneeze

6 March 2010 at 12:48pm

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