TRADITIONAL TASTING MENU
Bresaola with Sweet Pea Sformato and Carrot Vinaigrette
Pappardelle with Porcini and Thyme
Duck Tortelli with “Sugo Finto”
Grilled Hanger Steak with Cipolline Agrodolce
Coach Farm’s Finest Goat Cheese with Fennel Honey
“Fico in Mosto”
Mario Batali may be well-known for his ponytail and clogs, but the food at Babbo is what really defines him.
Gourmet magazine once said, “Mario Batali’s empire keeps expanding, but this restaurant is still the one where everyone wants to be.” And even with this week’s Eataly opening, this still holds true.
Though you can order a la carte, Babbo’s tradition tasting menu is well worth its Michelin star.
Unlike most tasting menus, Babbo serves as many sweet dishes as savory, so with a pasta maker and fresh produce, this menu is easy to recreate at home.
Quick Cooking Tips
For the final dessert at Babbo, the pastry chef actually sends out a different dessert for each person at the table. Picking up a selection of pre-made, individually-sized Italian desserts will save you time and be closer to the restaurant experience.
Bresaola is an Italian cured meat made with beef instead of pork. It should be very thinly sliced and can be found at the meat counter of Italian delis.
If fresh figs aren’t available where you live, don’t use dried. Instead, substitute pears.
Cippollini onions can often be found at the farmers’ market. I haven’t seen them at Whole Foods, but you can order them online.
Hazelnut gelato, or chocolate hazelnut ice cream, should be easy to find in your freezer section. Just look for a small producer, like Ciao Gelato.
For the fennel honey, soak fennel seeds in your favorite light honey (not clover) overnight.
Mosto is an Italian (and Spanish) work for unfermented grape juice. I wouldn’t pick up Welch’s, but your average additive-free grape juice will do.
Preheat your oven to 350 and start your prep with the “sugo finto.” It’s meant to take less cooking time than a meaty bolognese, but it still needs significant stovetop time.
Finally, start in on the fresh pasta. You can use this for both the duck tortelli and the pappardelle. Cut the pasta into the required shapes and let it dry flat, and mix up the filling for the duck tortelli (skip the pork listed in the recipe).
Once everyone has arrived, throw the pappardelle in salted, boiling water and lightly fry the porcini mushrooms and thyme in olive oil. The pasta should be done in a minute or two, and the sauce should cook just until the mushrooms release their juices. Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve the pappardelle with porcini and thyme.
Let your guests pour themselves some wine and munch on the pappardelle while you grill up the steaks and assemble the tortelli. At Babbo, the cook at the grill fires the steaks as soon as a guest’s order is put in and then allows the meat to rest. Pop the tortelli (two per guest) in the pasta water and set the onions up to cook.
Serve the duck tortelli with “sugo finto” when everyone has polished off their pappardelle and conversation is in full swing. Give them some space before the meat course and then serve the grilled hanger steak with cipolline agrodolce with a pleasant red wine (nothing too harsh).
While your guests recover from the savory courses, plate up the palate cleanser: a slice of baguette, semi-firm goat cheese and fennel honey. Halve the figs and let them poach lightly in the mosto for the “fico in mosto.”
At this point in the evening, you need to give considerable space between courses, as guests will be quite full. Place a scoop of hazelnut gelato coated in chocolate sauce in a petite bowl for each guest and serve the chocolate “tartufino”with tawny port or vin santo.
Round out the evening with lemon tarts and other assorted cakes.