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The Early Word on Mario Batali's Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca

Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca, now open in the Seaport district, is celebrity chef Mario Batali's first Boston-area restaurant. With such a high-profile opening — coupled with the fact the venture was stalled for nearly two years — the press was waiting at the door for it to open. Here are some thoughts from folks who've tried Babbo so far.

Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca
Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca
Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

'From Grit to Glitz' News: Along with B&B Hospitality Group partner Joe Bastianich, Mario Batali has bestowed some of his signature, New York Italian cuisine to a growing Boston area. Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca is located inside the Vertex building on Fan Pier, part of the Menino-dubbed Innovation District currently undergoing heavy construction and investment. In the Boston Globe, Kara Baskin writes that the chef's "arrival seems to cement the neighborhood’s transformation from grit to glitz." The original Babbo in Manhattan boasts one of the industry's top honor, a Michelin star. (Boston's Babbo is not the same as that brand; its menu more similar to Batali's Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, in Greenwich Village. The Boston spot was renamed to limit confusion with Portland, Maine-based Otto Pizza.) Baskin adds it's something of a switch for a chef like Batali to move into Boston; usually it's homegrown restaurateurs who branch out to bigger, brighter cities. Bastianich, whose local cred includes a Boston College education, says Boston has the "money and enthusiasm" to support the new venture.

Cost/Benefit Analysis News: Despite its pedigree, reviewers have thus far found Babbo to be quite affordable. A Yelper who visited Babbo late last month said a meal of three pizzas, a pasta dish, a vegetable small plate, and more "was inexpensive," and yielded enough food to satisfy and fill the next day's lunch box. Another reports the eggplant caponata, spaghetti carbonara, and pancetta pizza fed two people for less than $30 total. On Chowhound, one poster said the prices are less than one might expect. Local critic MC Slim JB chimed in on the forum to add that he believes the brand is the best value of all Batali ventures. The a la carte items are wide-ranging; Tiny Urban Kitchen blogger Jennifer Che said items range from $5 - $19, and she strongly recommends sharing. "It was impossible to order something from every section of the menu," she wrote.

Fast Food News: The "pizzeria" part of the restaurant name makes clear, pies are Babbo's specialty. At Babbo, the thin-crust rounds take just 90 seconds in a 1,000-degree, wood-fired oven. The restaurant has a bar devoted to the foodstuff, and one Yelper recommends sitting there to be"entranced in watching the pizza-making process." Che "loved the flavor of the dough and the crust," she wrote on Tiny Urban Kitchen. "The Margherita ($9) is always a favorite for me, and this was no exception. The simple combination of high quality mozzarella, tomatoes, and fresh basil cannot be beat." Styled by Jess's eponymous blogger said Babbo is surprisingly good for kids, too, with so many pizza and pasta options.

All the News That Fits on a Small Plate: The appetizers at Babbo are "very generous" for the $5 price point, one Yelper notes. Two ramekins of roasted cauliflower was a good portion for a dining duo, another reviewer reports. For salads, a Chowhound posters says the chopped version "was perfectly dressed." A seasonal dish of farro, charred ramps, and lemon is "nice and garlicky," Che writes, but she found a server-recommended dish of roasted peppers tossed in a balsamic vinegar dressing to be too sweet. The Styled by Jess blogger says the mozzarella in carozza is "heaven."

Here to Serve News: Reviews vary on how the service is so far at Babbo, but the place only opened April 15, so some growing pains are to be expected. One early adopter reported on Yelp that she "anticipated a long wait and shoddy service, but encountered neither" on April 17. Another person said the sommeliers were great, but her table's server acted like she hated her new job. Tiny Urban Kitchen blogger Che says the service her party experienced was "a bit disjointed," but chalked it up to the Babbo being brand new.

Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca

11 Fan Pier Boulevard, Boston, MA 02210 (617) 421-4466 Visit Website

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