One of the most coveted reservations to have in New York City is at Babbo, Mario Batali's flagship restaurant in Greenwich Village. In The Babbo Cookbook
, Batali (author of Mario Batali Simple Italian Food
and Mario Batali Holiday Food
) takes readers behind the scenes of his popular restaurant--from the kitchen to the front of house--sharing 150 recipes for his innovative Italian fare and offering tips on menu selection, service, and presentation. Along the way, Batali expertly captures the intimate buzz, the warm hospitality, and the generous attention to detail that makes Babbo a singular dining experience.
Before digging into any of the dozen-plus featured antipasti, Batali offers several specialty aperitivi, including the refreshing Blood Orange Bellini. Two of Babbo's signature dishes, Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage (little ravioli stuffed with a filling of sweet peas, mint, heavy cream, and Parmigiano-Reggiano) and Beef Cheek Ravioli (so good the book recommends doubling the filling and freezing a batch), are broken down and made more than accessible to the home cook. Other exceptional pasta options include Pumpkin Lune with Butter and Sage (finished with a dusting of Parmigiano-Reggiano and amaretti cookie crumbs) and Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragù (a reinterpretation of a Batali family classic, still served at Salumi, his father's must-visit Seattle shop). Chapters "Mare (From the Sea)" and "Terra e Bosco (From the Earth and Forest)" offer Crispy Black Bass with Endive Marmellata and Saffron Vinaigrette ("'crispy' sells more food than a barrage of adjectives," Batali reveals) and a succulent Osso Buco with Toasted Pine Nut Gremolata. There's a wonderful section on pre-desserts and cheese, and in "Dolci" pastry chef Gina DePalma wraps things up with Maple and Mascarpone Cheesecake, Meyer Lemon Semifreddo, and a tempting cookie plate.
The Babbo Cookbook is a gorgeous affair--nearly every recipe is accompanied by a color photo of the finished dish. Batali is an intelligent and inspiring guide throughout the book, and Babbo co-owner Joseph Bastianich (who cowrote the terrific Vino Italiano with Babbo wine director David Lynch) provides detailed notes on their topnotch table and wine service. Some of the recipes may seem daunting to tentative home cooks (the recipe for Warm Testa with Waxy Potatoes opens with "Place the pig's head in a large pot with water"), but Batali recognizes that readers don't have the benefit of being backed by a kitchen staff and offers tips and modifications to turn out a version of the dish as close as possible to the real deal. Whether you choose to cook your way through one recipe at a time or attempt to turn out an entire tasting menu for a special occasion, Batali's Babbo Cookbook is a keeper--a book you'll turn to again and again. --Brad Thomas Parsons
From Publishers Weekly
This book reads not only as a guide to modernized Italian cooking, but also as a very successful advertisement for its phenomenally successful namesake New York City restaurant. While it offers recipes for signature dishes such as Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage and Beef Cheek Ravioli, it also includes descriptions of some of the workings of the restaurant, such as a brief essay on the difference between side dishes offered in traditional restaurants in Italy and the side dishes offered at Babbo. The recipes are excellent clearly written and easy to follow and carefully edited for the home cook but some of the ingredients and equipment called for will be difficult for laypeople to acquire, and many recipes are quite complex. Planked King Salmon with Cucumbers and Balsamic Vinegar calls for an 8-by-12-inch cedar plank; Bollito Misto requires calf's tongue, a capon and cotechino sausage. And Marinated Fresh Anchovies with "Giardiniera" and Lobster Oil requires boning fresh anchovies but fails to provide instructions. Still, the mixtures of flavors in dishes such as Whole Roasted Branzino with Braised Fennel and Lemon Oregano Jam and Joe's Veal Chop with Chanterelles, Roasted Garlic, and Campari are irresistible. Desserts follow the same traditional-Italian-with-a-twist formula just as successfully: Olive Oil and Fresh Rosemary Cake is a refreshing version of an Italian "keeping cake," and Pumpkin Cake with Toasted Pine Nuts and Olive Oil Gelato combines traditional flavors in surprising ways. (Apr.)Forecast: This book is as classy and culinarily tempting as the restaurant it represents. Sales should be brisk, especially since getting a reservation is next to impossible.
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