I have been wanting to try Mario Batali's Babbo Pizzeria since it first opened. To be honest, I was actually stalking it long before it opened via real-time updates on Eater.com. Two weeks ago when I had my Seaport staycation at the Aloft Boston Seaport I finally got a chance to check it out.
It was a Friday night and my friend and I didn't have a reservation but we decided to risk it and see how long the wait would be. The host informed us it could be 20 - 25 minutes, but we were more than willing to wait it out.
We walked down to the waterfront and watched the sun set over the boats. After just 15 minutes my phone vibrated with a text that our table was ready.
We were both secretly hoping we would be seated on Babbo's outdoor patio, but alas it wasn't in the cards. For fellow dog owners, I noticed a family with a pooch under their table, which leads me to believe the patio is dog-friendly.
Weaving through tables, the host guided us to our seats. We had been granted two spots at the pizza bar.
From our perch we had a front row seat as two of the cooks prepared pizza after pizza all night long.
Our waitress popped over to hand us menus. The Babbo menu is quite large with multiple sections.
While we perused the menu we were delivered two items to nosh on - bread with olive oil and thin, crispy breadsticks (both requiring some unwrapping).
The bread was incredibly delicious with a hearty crust and a soft, doughy center. It was the perfect vehicle for soaking up the olive oil.
The first thing we decided on one was wine. I have to admit, I was rather intimidated by the wine list so I went with the only red wine I recognized, a Sangiovese.
Our waitress returned to ask if we had any questions on the menu and of course we did. We were both impressed by how expertly she recited the preparation of multiple dishes.
On her recommendation we started with the cauliflower alla siciliana. It had a great citrus taste and we loved the olives mixed in with the cauliflower florets.
Next we enjoyed the fiore di zucca, also known as squash blossoms. I recently had an amazing rendition of this dish at RPM Italian in Chicago so my expectations were high. Unfortunately the Babbo version just couldn't compete. I wish it had come with a stronger or bolder dipping sauce like a spicy marinara.
Our third dish was the margherita pizza. Though we were tempted by many of the more elaborate flavor combinations, for our first ever visit we wanted to start with a classic.
The pizza had a thin crust on the bottom and a very sweet tomato sauce. The basil on top crisped up in the pizza oven almost making it tasted fried (in the best way).
We had shared the first three dishes, but for our next round we each selected a dish to enjoy individually. My friend went with the soft shell crab served with local greens, radishes and pickled ramp aioli.
After a few bites she said, "This crab is extremely fresh. The batter on the outside was nice and crisp. The radishes made for a really nice garnish and the aioli helped cut through the rich taste of the batter. For soft shell crab, this was amazingly tender."
I decided on the tornaelli cacio e pepe. I first fell in love with cacio e pepe at Eataly in New York City. I was with one of my college friends and I had never heard of that dish before. She insisted we get it and I've been trying to find somewhere in Boston that makes a version as memorable at Eataly's. Well, mission accomplished.
Babbo's cacio e pepe has a decadent, creamy sauce and just the right amount of pepper to give each bite a kick. I don't think I'll be able to return to Babbo without ordering this.
When our dinner plates were cleared, our waitress asked if she could interest us in dessert. I replied, "We always look."
The dessert menu had a myriad of options but we both wanted the exact same thing - the peppermint chip gelato. It arrived with a housemade cookie sticking up on top.
The peppermint flavor served as an excellent palette cleanser after our indulgent meal. It had a wonderfully fresh mint taste. The cookie on top had an identical texture to a classic ice cream cone. The portion size was perfect for two people.
After multiple courses and a few glasses of wine I was sure we'd have to be rolled home. Thankfully we had to walk a full 15 minutes back to our hotel so we could attempt to burn some of the calories we consumed.
I had been wanting to go to Babbo for so long that I was worried the experience wouldn't live up to the anticipation. This meal superseded my expectations and I can't wait to come back.