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The Babbo Cookbook Hardcover – April 30, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (April 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609607758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609607756
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joseph Adler VINE VOICE on December 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
My wife and I are huge fans of Mario Batali. We used to live in NY and ate regularly at his restaurants: mostly Lupa, Babbo for special occasions, and Esca when we were stuck in the theatre district. I love many of the dishes featured in this book (for example the "2 Minute Calamari, Sicilian Lifeguard Style," or his Bolognese sauce).

We're also both experienced cooks and avid cookbook readers, and neither of us like this cookbook. It's a beautifully produced book, and does contain a large number of recipes corresponding to famous dishes from Babbbo. Unfortunately, many of the recipes in this book have serious errors and don't work. Some recipes omit steps, others include incorrect descriptions of proportions, and others are vague about cooking techniques. For example, the recipe for the 2 minute calamari lists "1 cup couscous" as an ingredient, without telling you if it's supposed to be raw or cooked. (By trial and error, I figured out that it was cooked.) Or, there was the Bigeye Tuna recipe that asked you to prepare a half dozen ingredients, and doesn't tell you what to do with them. (For example, it tells you to sautee mushrooms, then doesn't tell you what to do with them. It also tells you to make parsley oil, then doesn't tell you what to do with it. We guessed that we should use it as a garnish.) Or take the Bolognese recipe, which produces a watery, smoky mess that tastes nothing like the sauce served in the restaurant.

Much as we wanted to like this book, we didn't like it, and can't recommend it. If you want to learn how to cook Italian food, try some of Marcella Hazan's books. If you want to eat Mario Batali's food, go to his restaurants. If you want to learn how to make the dishes served in his restaurants, wait for a better book.
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Format: Hardcover
This cookbook does an excellent job at capturing the magic of dining at Babbo. Both Batali and Bastianich offer interesting tidbits throughout the cookbook - one describes exactly why they clear crumbs off of diners' tables not with a crumber, but with a spoon. The book does a great job - stylistically - of condensing the experience of eating at Babbo into cookbook-form. Some of the recipes are transcendent. Batali's olive oil gelato is a winner, and the recipe in the cookbook creates a smooth, creamy gelato very similar to the one that he serves at Otto. Other recipes - as other reviewers note - needed a test-kitchen before publication. I've made the saffron panna cotta twice, and it needs significantly more gelatin (about 50% more) than the recipe calls for to make the panna cotta set. The cookbook's recipes indicates that the "castagnaccio" (chestnut cake) should cook at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. After 50+ minutes of cooking at that temperature, my cake was still raw in the center. Maybe it was a typo? Maybe it needs a convection, rather than conventional oven? Disappointing, given the expense of the ingredients that go into the recipe. Overall - beautiful cookbook, but I've run into too many recipes that needed "tweaking" for them to turn out correctly. Maybe this is a problem with the baking section only.
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Format: Hardcover
Mario Batali's Babbo Cookbook is no mere cookbook. While delivering the recipes that have been developed and presented at his Village restuarant, it's through Mario's brief pre-chapter and pre-recipe writings where he lovingly conveys his passion for Italian food and cooking. His core passion is for fresh ingredients in simple (unlike the French) yet tasty preparations. He cannot stress enough how important it is to have relationships with the local baker, butcher, fishmongerer, grocer, etc. to insure the delivery of the best quality ingredients. He stresses the use of ingredients that are in-season to maximize the taste and appeal to the senses. His passion extends to the presentation and delivery of food. Simple suggestions in the cookbook include priming the wine glass before serving fine wines.
This book is a superb addition to any cook's collection.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For years I have watched him on the Food Channel and I have tried a few of his recipes from the show. He makes wonderful dishes. This was my first purchase of one of his cookbooks. I really enjoyed the way the book was laid out. Easy to read recipes, clear and concise directions, and lovely pictures to view. I am amazed at the variety of ingredients that he uses in his dishes. Its not that they are typically hard to find or anything, I simply didn't realize the variety of food in Italian cooking. Now if you are simply looking for pasta and sauces this isn't the book for you. This book does cover pasta, some delightful desserts, but there is a large variety in meats that this book uses. Like variety ? Then this cookbook is for you if you want to cook something a bit out of the ordinary.
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Format: Hardcover
The Babbo cookbook is nicely done, not in a class of it's own...but solid nonetheless. These recipes rely overwhelmingly on the quality of each and every ingredient in each dish and if unwilling to hunt for (and invest in) this caliber of ingredient, best look elsewhere. The pictures are superb and the sprinkling of culinary philosophy is good. I would purchase the book again just for the veal shank recipe!
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