Babbo: A Swanky Italian Restaurant - Backed By Chelsea Footballers - That Doesn't Hit The Back Of The Net

Babbo ★★★☆☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 16 months ago

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Babbo: A Swanky Italian Restaurant - Backed By Chelsea Footballers - That Doesn't Hit The Back Of The Net Babbo 3

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A very swanky interior.

Babbo. It's Italian slang for father, which goes some way to explaining the fist bump between a large and tiny hand, plastered on the wall in this swanky Italian restaurant in Mayfair. The aim, probably, is to give the place a family feel, though the eerily quiet evening when I visit definitely doesn't feel familial. To give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt, it's a drizzling, miserable evening and diners have probably opted for Netflix and Deliveroo rather than grabbing a brolly and heading out into town.

Two of the partners in Babbo are Chelsea footballers David Luiz and Willian. That's something of a warning sign as footballers aren't known for taste — and taste is one thing you hope a restaurant has got right. Having said that, a Ronaldo-backed restaurant was great, so let's be open-minded.

Delicious octopus with a very bland broad bean sauce.

You can't usually go too far wrong with octopus — great taste, chewy texture and one of them could even predict who was going to win a football match. My own prediction seems to stand true as I kick off with octopus that's been seared to perfection... until it's dipped into the accompanying broad bean sauce.  The octopus is juicy, and is crying out for a zingy chilli sauce, and instead it gets a dry, bland gloop that does it no favours.

Thankfully the aubergine parmigiana is a lot stronger. It's dense enough to get the dinner rolling but not so heavy that it feels like it's encroaching on main course territory. It's followed up by a solid mushroom gnocchi that's filling and truffle-y. It's nothing new, but why tamper with a classic?

A solid mushroom gnocchi.

A trolley is rolled out with an entire sea bass baked in salt — the adventurous option on the menu. The waiter carves open this salty cavern to reveal the fish in question, before slicing into it and presenting chunks of it on our plate. It's quite the elaborate preparation and while the sea bass has naturally absorbed much of the salt, it's not as saline as expected — which is definitely a plus. Disappointingly, it isn't served with anything. Although lovely by itself, it's not too much to ask for a bit of accompanying veg.

Redemption lies in the dessert menu with a gloriously gooey chocolate fondant and a lovely mixture of textures when a smooth berry sorbet meets some crunchy chocolate crumble.

Redemption lies with this gooey fondant.

Babbo offers an enjoyable, if pricey, Italian meal in Mayfair — but it needs to up its game to compete with nearby Italian rivals Cecconi's and San Carlo.

Babbo, 39 Albermarle Street, Mayfair. The meal in this review costs circa £105 for two, excluding drinks.

Last Updated 26 May 2019