Babbo Italian Eatery opens new location with hot new menu items By Niki D’Andrea
means “dad” in Italian, and the food at this locally owned chain is a lot like what an Italian father might cook if all the aunts in the family ever let him in the kitchen – and if he made protein bowls. That’s right – protein bowls are the newest addition to the entrees on Babbo’s menu. With various pick-your-protein options (chicken, flat iron steak, shrimp, salmon) on a bed of brown rice, red quinoa, broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini and carrots, they don’t exactly scream “authentic Italian!” but they are really, really good. Served in perfectly manageable portions, the protein bowls burst with earthy and wholesome flavors and immaculately cooked meats (the grilled chicken is especially tasty). The protein bowls aren’t the only thing that’s new with Babbo. There’s a brand new Babbo location near Talking Stick Resort (the eighth Babbo in the Valley since the company’s founding in 2002). There’s also a new cocktail called Electric Lemonade that makes a sweet pairing with the Lemon Cooler Cookie. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’ll get to dessert later. But first, bruschetta.
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Bruschetta (which Italians pronounce brusk-etta, but which everyone else seems insistent on pronouncing brush-etta) isn’t new to the Babbo menu, but they take a lot of pride in it, and it’s some of the better bruschetta around town. The bruschetta comes in trios and options for the pickthree are: roasted red bell pepper and goat cheese; salami and fig with arugula and blue cheese; mozzarella, basil and tomato; pear and walnut with goat cheese, blue cheese and honey; fig and prosciutto with arugula; spicy fig jam with jalapeño and cream cheese; and balsamic marinated tomatoes and goat cheese. There’s not a bad choice among them, but the roasted red bell pepper and goat cheese is one of the best, with the creamy and slightly bitter cheese offsetting the subtle spicysweet tango of the peppers. Babbo’s pastas are also noteworthy. Cooked al dente and served with an ideal ratio of sauce-to-pasta, these dishes stand out among the entrees. There are a whopping 29 pasta options on the menu, including stellar spaghetti and meatballs and a worth-the-wait lasagne. Four new pastas top the menu: Zoodles Arrabbiatta (zucchini noodles in a spicy marinara sauce that includes pomodoro
The new flat iron steak protein bowl (Photo by Erica & John Photography)
Bruschetta trio at Babbo (Photo by Niki D’Andrea)