The Legacy of Babbo Wine
When Babbo opened in 1998, restaurant wine programs in the United States were very different than they are today. Babbo offered Italian wines only (no Bordeaux or Burgundy) and represented every region on the Italian Peninsula (not Brunello and Super Tuscans alone). Babbo was the first restaurant to organize its wine list by region, the first to offer wine by the quartino, and the first to prime glassware before wine service. Whereas common practice was for restaurants to offer current releases, Joe Bastianich bought wines in bulk and stored them, building a cellar over time.
For two decades, Babbo’s wine philosophy has been consistent: (1) represent all of Italy’s winemaking regions, with as many diverse styles of wine as possible; (2) offer selections of older vintages of great wines; and (3) refrain from discriminating based on price or style.
To celebrate the legacy of Babbo’s wine program, we will offer monthly wine dinners called The Enoteca Series. Once a month we will highlight one region of Italy to evoke a sense of place, in the way only food and wine can. Reaching into our 2,700-bottle cellar, our wine team has selected groundbreaking wines/estates that demonstrate the depth of our cellar. All of the wines for these dinners were bought on release. Now they are aged perfectly to share with you.
ENOTECA SERIES 2021
AT THE FOOT OF THE ALPS:
A Wine Dinner Featuring the Food and Wine of Piemonte
Let us take you through a winter tasting experience with the traditional food and wine that come to us from the “foot of the mountains,” also known as Piemonte. While Barolo and Barbaresco take center stage in this region (as we think they should), local indigenous varietals reveal the nuances of the terroir. And when we pair these wines with the rich flavors of polenta, truffle, bagna cauda and braised meat, we hope you will get a real feel for what it is like to live, eat and drink in a hamlet in these hilly, secluded areas. Our Chef and Wine Director are pleased to have curated a five-course tasting dinner to bring the culture, traditions and secrets of Piemonte to you at Babbo.
Il Carnevale di Babbo:
A Wine Dinner Featuring the Food and Wine of Veneto
There is no place like Carnevale in Veneto. To celebrate this famed region and special time of year, Babbo takes you from the coast with seafood marinated in the traditional method known as “saor” to the mountains where slow-cooked meats also soar to culinary heights. Polenta, bigoli, radicchio and crostoli reign supreme here and are matched perfectly with the vinicultural region we are proud to showcase, Valpolicella. From zesty garganega to international varietals to the well-known variations of wine that are produced from the trio of grapes Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara (ripasso! recioto!), the wines of Valpolicella are as diverse as the region itself. So, grab a mask, grab a glass and enjoy the five-course tasting dinner our Chef and Wine Director have prepared for you!
When In Lazio:
A Wine Dinner Featuring the Food and Wine of Lazio
When in Rome… the famous city in Lazio is home to some of the most famous dishes in Italy (cacio e pepe!) and we love eating them. But the culinary tradition in the whole of Lazio is just as spectacular as in the capital city and focuses on seasonal vegetables, braised offal and cured meats. Ricotta, guanciale and baked semolina gnocco are found throughout Lazio and places like Amatrice have their own namesake dishes. Winemakers work through this tension between well-known and known-well locally in what they choose to plant. Famous international grapes have long been popular in Lazio, but a revival of indigenous varietals tells a more complex picture of the region. The clones of Cesanese can be just as distinctive on the palette as youthful Canaiolo Nero or an elegant Frusinate Lecinaro. What is a Frusinate Lecinaro? Well, taste it along-side bucatini amatriciana and find out… because as they say, “When is Lazio…”
A Wine Dinner Featuring the Food and Wine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli Venezia Giulia holds a special place in the heart of Babbo. FVG is the home of Bastianich Wines (which we like to call our “ family wines”) whose mission is to continue the region’s reputation for producing the best white wines of Italy and to showcase what reds can do in the north. We also like the region because FVG, like Babbo, is notorious for bucking norms: so-called international varieties like chardonnay are locally-known as indigenous varietals and Italian food is also Austrian food and Slavic food and Hungarian food. In this Italian melting-pot, potatoes and polenta rule, the creamy unpasteurized Montasio cheese is prized and San Daniele Prosciutto is a protected class. With so much diversity of influences and ideas, Friuli conjures the question, “What makes Italian food and wine, Italian food and wine?” And the answer is…
Don’t Call It A Comeback:
A Wine Dinner Featuring the Food and Wine of Campania
Chicago Style. Detroit Style. New York Style. These are all excellent pies, but let’s not forget the OG coming straight out of Campania: Neapolitan pizza made with Mozzarella di Bufala. We think it’s important to remember our roots because another source of pride in Campania, the grape Fiano, almost went extinct in the mid 20th century as high-yield grapes bore a more profitable fruit. When winemakers rediscovered the pleasures of Fiano (and Greco and Falanghina) they began to produce exemplary wines which propelled regions like Avellino to protected status. It doesn’t hurt that these wines pair perfectly with the octopus, shrimp and clams of the Amalfi Coast. But Campania is not all about white wine. It is also home to Aglianico, one of the varietals in the Italian triumvirate of great red grapes. We think Aglianico deserves the stature (and name recognition) of Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. And, besides, it goes so well with our slow-roasted lamb shoulder. Drinking these wines now will ensure that they will never need a comeback. In that spirit, we are proud to present a dinner featuring the food and wine of southern Italy, Campania style.
Here Comes The Sun:
A Wine Dinner Featuring the Food and Wine of Liguria
Hello, darling. It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter and we are ready to celebrate the start of summer by showcasing Liguria, that crescent shaped region on the Italian coast stretching from the South of France to the tip of Tuscany, home to the Italian Riviera. Here, fishing villages transform into glamorous resorts, grape vines and brightly colored houses dangle over the ocean from rocky cliffs, and the smell of basil magically leads to a plate of Trofie alla Genovese made with fresh pesto. In our perfect day, we sip wine made from the white grape Pigato (musky, peachy, creamy, textural) while on a boat bobbing in the harbor. At sunset, we open a prestigious pre-phylloxera bottle of Rossese di Dolceaqua (strawberry, violets, red roses, black pepper spice) and savor it with braised rabbit. And before bed, we meditate over a Santa Maria al Monte amaro while indulging in chocolate hazelnut baci. This is Liguria. It seems like years since we have been… but here comes the sun.
The Fortune of Sicilia:
A Wine Dinner Featuring the Food and Wine of Sicily
When Chef Nicotra returned to Sicily as a budding chef, it was the smell of baking bread and fresh crushed tomatoes that let him know he was home. But it also very easily could have been the sight of erupting volcanoes next to the vineyards of Mount Etna. Or the sweet-and-sour taste of caponata with pine nuts and raisins. Even if you’re not returning to your roots, Sicily inspires a feeling of homecoming. Here, fruits of the ocean (like Seabream) come to play with wines of the mountains (like Etna Rosso); red wines (like Frappato) cheerfully wait on ice to be served chilled; and Italian favorites (like Cannoli) coyly reveal their Arabian influences through flavors of citrus and pistachio. There are many good fortunes to be discovered in Sicily (like our Chef Fortunato Nicotra) and we are pleased to bring you to his home.
More Than the Next Big Thing:
A Wine Dinner Featuring the Food and Wine of Apulia
Apulia is not the next “Florence of the South”. Caciocavallo cheese is not the next burrata. And the grape primitivo is not the next zinfandel. Apulia is more than the next big thing. It is farmland. It is coastland. It is hot days spent drifting between pebble beaches with clear turquoise waters. It is wandering through villages filled with trulli, those whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs that look like houses in a fairy tale. It is olive oil. It is wine. It is an abundance of vegetables grown on the fertile flatlands of the south. It is the hot Mediterranean climate and the cool sea breeze which create the perfect diurnal variation in temperature to produce inky but fresh negroamaro. It is frisella, the double-baked hard bread originally made for long journeys but now enjoyed as the base for a midday snack. Apulia is this: a place where locals stand outside to make orecchiette in the shape of “little ears” the way they have done for generations, sipping rosato from Salento, while watching visitors search for something new to discover. But for the people of Apulia, the next big thing has always been here.
We’ll Always Have Tuscany:
A Wine Dinner Featuring the Food and Wine of Tuscany
Close your eyes. What do you imagine when you hear Tuscany. For us, it’s an osteria in the hills surrounding Sienna. We enter and are greeted with a board of pecorino toscano, finocchiona and pappa al pomodoro. The hosts bring us a glass of rustic wine. This isn’t Sangiovese! But what exactly is Colorino?! It doesn’t matter so much… it is perfect and everyone is drinking it. We see ourselves climbing to the top of a duomo in San Gimignano and then rewarding ourselves in a trattoria eating pappardelle with wild boar paired with two glasses of Chianti Classico from the best vintages of the last decade. We see ourselves in a ristorante in Florence ordering the famous Bistecca Fiorentina with a bottle of the iconic Sassicaia, knowing that we will share this story with our friends when we return home. We see ourselves resting at our villa in Pisa, meditating at night over a glass of honey-sweet Vin Santo. Then we open our eyes. And we know we will always have Tuscany – with a little food and wine to take us there.
Piedmont, For The First Time (Again):
A Wine Dinner Featuring the Food and Wine of Piedmont
As apple-picking, sweater-weather, leaf-peeping season approaches, we think this is the best time to head north in Italy, to Piedmont, for some warming, hearty dishes. There is nothing more Piedmontese than braised beef and Barolo. But let’s get to that in a moment. Do you remember when you were in a pumpkin patch (or at the grocery store) expecting to get the great pumpkin from your childhood memories but came upon a startlingly white pumpkin for the first time? That sense of wonder is what this dinner is going to be like: We are going to Piedmont knowing that the great Barolo will be waiting for us, but along the way we are going to taste Erbaluce, Vespolina and a wine from the DOCG Dogliani. And we are going to see why one the greatest Barolo producers, G.D. Vajra, chose to pioneer the renaissance of the grape Freisa. His Barolo and his Freisa will be paired with the Piedmontese classic dish Brasato al Barolo. And it will feel like being a kid at pumpkin patch, finding the great pumpkin again, while discovering for the first time a white pumpkin and something new to love.
Babbo’s Annual White Truffle Dinner
Just like love and marriage, white truffles and Babbo go together like a horse and carriage. After a brief hiatus (ahem, all of 2020 and 2021) our Annual Babbo White Truffle Dinner is back because we think right now is the perfect moment to celebrate… everything. The time is now for us to show our love for life through food, wine and good company. If Alba in Italy has been blessed with the greatest white truffles in the world, and if they faithfully arrive every winter with their fragrant, rarefied allure, who are we to say we should hold off on our own Babbo tradition? In that spirit, we welcome you back to white truffle season. And for one night only we are pairing our special six course dinner with some of the most prized, iconic wine from our storied cellar: Gaja, Giacomo Conterno, Bruno Giacosa, Cappellano and Mascarello. Come. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy friends. White truffles. Good food. Good wine. And remember why Babbo and white truffles go so well together: We like to think, as Sinatra sang, you can’t have one without the other.