Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca
110 Waverly Pl
(between Mac Dougal St & W Washington Sq)
New York, NY 10011
If money is no object, and your only criteria is food, then Babbo is the place; perhaps the best Italian food in New York. This is the crown jewel in Mario Batali’s empire. The menu varies somewhat every night, but is always divided into the traditional Italian order of antipasti (appetizers), primi (first courses – pasta or soup), and secondi (main courses – meat or fish), with contorni (side dishes), and desserts and cheeses. The appetizers are mostly around $15, primi around $20 and secondi around $30, so a meal here is not cheap. Nor does Batali try to cater to American taste. There is a lot of food here that some Americans will consider unusual, or even offputting, like tripe, brains, tongue and so on, but there are also dishes that are less unusual. It’s all good. In fact, it’s pretty much all fantastic.
But there are problems, mostly with the organization and service. There are tables near the bathroom (so you get a lovely whiff and noise each time someone enters or leaves) and near the kitchen (noisy, and full of ‘excuse me’ by staff passing behind you). I’ve had questions answered rudely. Rock music plays at too loud a volume.
At these prices, for me, everything should be wonderful, not just the food, and every table should be good.
200 W 84th St
(between Amsterdam Ave & Broadway)
New York, NY 10024
(212) 362-5506 www.spiganyc.com
Also designed with Italian style menus, the appetizers are mostly around $10, primi around $20 and secondi about $30, so it’s also not cheap. Less adventurous than Babbo, but nonetheless not “traditional”, the food here is wonderful, and the service is excellent. It’s a casual spot, up a flight of stairs, but the casualness doesn’t extend to the kitchen
Patsy’s Italian Restaurant
236 W 56th St
(between 8th Ave & Broadway)
New York, NY 10019
(212) 247-3491 www.patsys.com/
After two very non-traditional restaurants, here is one old-style Italian place. It’s been around since World War II. There’s Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra on the soundtrack, and a menu filled with all the traditional favorites like lasagna, veal parmigiana, and so on. Appetizers are mostly in the low-teens, pastas around $20 and meats around $30.