Weekly Wrap

This is going to be a short update because, hey, work occasionally needles its way into life and this week has been one of those.

First, go to Babbo’s, really. Skip the chicken spedini and order the chicken parmesan – it blew our chicken parm-snob socks off last night. Also: lasagna, spaghetti bolognese and Caesar salads are killer and the service on our most recent visit (last night), was pitch-perfect. Dude was there and not there, you know? Knew the menu, the wine and when and how to check on things. I’m not saying it’s perfect (there’s that bread, the overcooked chicken and the silverware delivery that seems to be throwing some off), but after three visits I’m comfortable saying that Columbia at last has a Big Boy Italian place. (And it’s pronounced “BOB-ohs”).

In other news, the Hy-Vee on West Broadway is carrying two things you need to go buy: 1) Lucky Peach magazine, the brainchild of irreverent uber-chef and raconteur David Chang, and 2) Humboldt Fog cheese, simply one of the greatest cheeses made in the United States. Giddy. Up.

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Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

19 thoughts

  1. As a gauge of both food quality and overall merit, how would you say the food at Babbo’s compares to other more veteran establishments in CoMo like Bambino’s or Pasta Factory?

  2. We went on Friday and were very disappointed. In my opinion this place is comparable to the Pasta Factory or The Rome (although I must say that I visited those 2 places just once with no interest in returning). You cannot call this place a Big Boy Italian place, you know that from the moment you learn that the chicken comes on top some spaghetti with Alfredo sauce…. In any case I don’t think the food is good. The lasagna, was loaded with a red sauce that had that acid/jar awful taste. The seafood pasta did not taste too bad but the crab was missing and the clams were from a can. My husband had the pasta with funghi and was tasteless, he did not like it at all. The selection is really small and not interesting at all. I do better than that!

    When I think of an Italian restaurant I think of Lidia’s in Kansas City, for example, with simple and great tasting real Italian dishes. Unfortunately I will have to keep waiting for a decent Italian place in Columbia.

  3. I find Pasta Factory very good myself. Not been to The Rome yet. I like the setting and the food at PF. I get their Chicken Florentine every time, although I opt for marinara sauce vs alfredo as its much too rich by the 4th or 5th bite for my liking. I have yet to expand past that entree so maybe I am biased.

    I have been to Italy before and spent time in Rome and Sicily so I have had my fair share of real, authentic pasta dishes and Italian cuisine to know a good dish from a bad one. I have not found an equal in CoMo but PF comes close.

    Rigazzi’s in St. Louis is the only comparison I have found with their chicken parmiciano entree.

  4. Wow, I don’t know what to say here, either about Pasta Factory or Rigazzi’s. I’ve been to both, and now I guess my dreamed about foodie trip to Italy and/or Sicily will not need to be planned because I have the same food being prepared here in Missouri. I’m disappointed. Of all the pasta dishes I’ve tried in Columbia and STL, as well as KC, Pasta Factory and Rigazzi’s have definitely been among the weakest. Sorry!

  5. Hey, you like what you like, but I side more with Christine here. I do like the mostaccioli con salsiccia at PF just fine and I’m hoping this weekend to get some good Italian when we’re in St. Louis – but I won’t be trying Rigazzi’s. πŸ˜‰

    Anon, aside from the lasagna I think we had different things. Perhaps the mushroom and seafood dishes are to be skipped. But based on three visits (and reports from many others), I think Babbo’s is a very welcome step in the right direction.

  6. Hey, Scott, if you haven’t been to these Italian restaurants in STL, I recommend these three: Trattoria Marcella, LoRusso’s Cucina, or Lorenzo’s Trattoria. All on, or very near, The Hill. And all very, very good, if not excellent. Enjoy yourselves!

  7. Christine, which of those 3 would you say is the best of the best? I am going to St Louis on Friday and want to try some place new on the Hill besides Rigazzi’s which I still claim as amazing!

    Any dish you would recommend?

  8. It has been SEVERAL years since I have dined at any of them; we used to hit up different dining places all the time when my husband lived in St. Louis. All three have websites, so I would suggest looking at those and see what grabs you. As memory serves, my favorite was LoRusso’s, but YMMV. LoRusso’s and Trattoria Marcella are both on Watson, I believe, and Lorenzo’s is right on the Hill (can’t remember the street name). They are all many notches above Rigazzi’s in price, atmosphere, and food. My favorite memory of Rigazzi’s are the frosty fishbowls of beer! If you like Rigazzi’s, you might enjoy Cunetto’s, Favazza’s, or Mama Campisi’s on the Hill as well. Have a good time wherever you go!

  9. Looks like my fellow comrade taking the day trip with me has voted for Lorenzo’s. I am not going to object to that after seeing the website and menu. I don’t think will be disappointed or hungry after all is said and done. Thanks for the insight!

  10. Let us know how it goes, Joshua. As for me, I’m trying out Five Bistro (on the Hill) Saturday night. Supposed to be excellent.

  11. Scott, have heard of Five also, and yes, supposed to be very good. Another one to check out (different targeted cuisine) is Franco in Soulard. I’d like to try that sometime, so you should go first, check it out, and report back here. I have a whole list of places for you to go and review! πŸ™‚ Thanks again for your wonderfully informative blog. BTW, if you’re ever in Arrow Rock, the restaurant Catalpa is freakin’ fantastic! It’s in a small cottage so make reservations. The chef/proprietor Liz Huff is doing fantastic things there.

  12. The Conley Road HyVee also has the Humboldt Fog. Cheese-gasm. Today’s lunch: Salad with arugula, fresh figs, Humboldt Fog, grilled chicken, and hazelnuts, topped with balsamic vinegar. Moar, plz!

  13. I went to Babbo’s on Friday. Lasagna was a touch too sweet, bolognese was good, caesar was good as well. The bread? I’d rather pay $5 extra and have them give me Fazzoli’s breadsticks than eat that dirtbag bread again. Stuff is terrible. They need to stop buying from the Moser’s day-old rack.

  14. I hit up Lorenzo’s for lunch on Friday last week with a work partner and a friend from CoMo. I got the salmon and rice, buddy got seafood risotto, and work partner got the meat lasagna. My salmon was great! Flaky, grilled perfectly, seasoned right and served over wild rice with a nice lemon aoli sauce. My friend who cam with me had a HUGE portion of risotto and chunks of shrimp, fish and scallops. It was far more rice then meat but he seemed full either way. Served with a red spicy tomato sauce. My work partner’s lasagna looked very good but the portion was all but 6-7 good bites and gone. Its served in a rich and thick marinara sauce which he seemed to enjoy but for about $11 per dish we each had, I was expecting his dish to be a bit bigger. We were all very pleased wit the meals and it picked up fast around 12 noon when normal lunch is served. That tells you something when it fills up that’s quick right after opening.

  15. Not to steal thunder from Scott’s blog here but to toot by own horn realy quickly here, I just did the Sky Hi Grill Wall of Fame Burger Challenge on Sunday! I am the 8th person to finish the challenge since it started in late Jan 2011. I now hold the fastest time to complete it as well (17:55). Its 2.75lb of food in total. 1lb fries, 24 oz of lean beef patties, 2 buns and then the classic lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles. These were some darn good burgers let me tell you! I get my burgers well done all the time, that’s just my preference. I used mustard, ketchup and BBQ sauce in random order to keep the flavors varied and it helped to keep a good pace. I used water sparingly to avoid getting too full too fast which also helped. I should note as well, what makes the victory that much more sweet is that I am the first under 200lb person to complete the challenge! Booya!

    I was full yes but not stuffed to be honest. Cant say I have ever had a “normal” appetite either.

  16. Congrats, Joshua! I think Adam Richman better watch out…:-) Glad you liked Lorenzo’s in STL as well.

    Scott, have you been digging on seeing David Chang in HBO’s Treme series? Of course being a series about New Orleans, there’s going to be lots of chef-sightings (and citings)! My favorite sign down there outside the restaurant Patois: Weapon of Choice, and painted below those words, a fork.

  17. I am in love with The Hill now! I am going to find a new hot spot every time I go to St. Louis from now on. I’ll have plenty of options with the endless choices The Hill has to offer. Bon appetito!

  18. If you’re in St. Louis and want to spend some big bucks, try Al’s, just north of the arch. American with Italian influence, tux wearing waiters and a dress code and the best restaurant meal I’ve ever had. Get to go again for the second time this next week. Pricy, but worth it on those rare splurge occasions.

  19. Hey, Vanessa gal! How you doin’? You know, we never got to eat at Al’s the whole time Tim lived in STL, but it was on our radar. We ate at Tony’s for my 40th, but that’s the biggest “splurge” we ever did there. You’re right, Al’s website is definitely salivating-inducing, totally old-school, and I’m thrilled you’ve not only dined there once, but now twice! You go, girl!

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