Upon walking into the new Scottsdale Babbo Italian Eatery, my husband and I are immediately impressed with the photos of local families, eating, smiling and laughing. I feel as if I'm coming home.
The Babbo restaurants are all family owned and operated, with the idea of family being "central to everything" (Babbo means "Daddy" in Italian). The staff acts as the heart of all their restaurants and delivers exemplary service. During our visit, I notice all the staff members enjoying their jobs and working together as a team. I soon realize that after 15 years in business, 8 local restaurants, and events like their Children's Hospital "Day of Giving," it's very obvious that this company genuinely cares about its community, its customers, its products, and its staff.
That being said, this isn't a place where snobby servers walk around with wheels of Parmesan cheese to grate onto your $30 pasta dish. The new Scottsdale location has beautiful and modern decor, but Babbo is a casual, family friendly atmosphere...and the grated Parm is in a glass container on the table. Shake to your heart's desire without feeling like a gluttonous pig in front of the snobby server. Come as you are, bring the kids, and Parm away, baby!
Now, let's talk about value. Value is the big take away for me at Babbo. Their signature dish, a classic spaghetti and meatballs is always $6.99 on Mondays and Tuesdays. But, the rest of the menu has exceptionally reasonable prices with large portions and big flavors! The home-made, warm focaccia that's served upon your welcome arrival is a perfect example. The olive oil and balsamic vinegar accompaniment is an additional bonus!
The restaurant has a fully stocked bar with a diverse cocktail menu of classic and signature cocktails. The Babbo-tini is DELICIOUS, with a fruity and refreshing flavor. The flavors of coconut rum, amaretto, pineapple and orange juices are all blended together perfectly. I could finish 5 or 6 more of these and then would need to be wheeled out on a gurney!
There's an inviting appetizer menu with the traditional Italian Bruschetta, Crostini and Mozzarella dishes, but one dish, the Firecracker Rolls, really stands out. There are three flavor options: Steak, Italian Meat and Buffalo Chicken. You can request one of each, as the dish comes with three servings. None of them are disappointing.
Babbo has done an excellent job of trying to make everyone in the family happy. They've got everything from healthy, gluten-free "zoodles" and protein bowls, to traditional pasta dishes, to $7 children's dishes that no kiddo can resist. The Chalkboard menu is a great choice for customizing your own dish. It allows you to choose your own salad, protein and pasta or vegetable sidekick. If you're on a not-so-traditional food kick, and you're looking to create something just a bit different, this option is the one for you.
On our visit, my husband and I decide to go with some of the regular pasta menu items. My hubby opts for the Italian Sausage Pasta ($13.50) with sausage, peppers, mushrooms, Marsala wine and Parmesan cheese served over penne. It's a simple, traditional dish with no surprises and is very well executed. The spicy Italian sausage has the right amount of heat, and the big chunks of peppers, tomatoes and mushroom give the dish perfect pops of savory flavor.
My pick for the night is something a little lighter and more refreshing. I'm always thinking of my kiddo, and he LOVES capers, so I choose the Chicken Limone Pasta ($12.95) with asparagus (additional $2). Roasted chicken breast, artichoke hearts, capers, FRESH lemon butter sauce and garlic make my mouth SING with a glass of their Villa Pozzi Moscato. This is very much a "mommy" dish, and I'm pleasantly surprised to find large wedges of fresh lemon in the dish, to keep it light, fruity and flavorful. I'm glad I added the asparagus, as I now feel that I'm eating my vegetables while I STUFF myself with delicious, buttery pasta!
Now, in my world, there's ALWAYS room for dessert. It's what I do best when I cook and compete, but more than that, it's what I absolutely LOVE to eat. Needless to say, I sign right up for any chance I have to let someone else make dessert for ME! Babbo's tiramisu is HEAVENLY. It helps that tiramisu is my all time favorite dessert dish, but theirs is mild, creamy, sweet and LARGE! I had no intention of eating more than a bite or two, and every intention of sharing it with my husband, getting several photographs, and a video. This is the result of those efforts. Can you see my problem here?!
All in all, Babbo made us feel like we were part of the their family. We walked out with full tummies and full hearts. I hope if you visit any of their locations here in the valley, you experience the same thing. Visit their website for locations, menus and more information: