my obsession with mario batali

Most people are shopping addicts, or hooked on celeb gossip (although I do read perezhilton weekly) or hundreds of other semi normal obsessions. Not me. My obsession is with that rather plump chef with signature orange crocks, long pony tail and shorts. It happened 5 or 6 years ago when I became a regular viewer of Molto Mario. I started imitating some of Mario’s dishes and found his food really complicated to make, but worth every bite. Then on a trip to NYC we checked out the famed Babbo in Washington Square. Everything about this place was simply awesome and better than I had anticipated. The outside alone was quaint and inviting – I even loved the signage and logo, very well done. The inside is two floors: the first has a descent sized bar, open tables near the window, and 20 – 25 tables in the back. Hardwood floors, over sized mirrors and bustling servers give this place a lot of energy and rustic vibe – and Mario is almost always at the bar talking to guests, laughing and mingling while appearing to really be enjoying what he does. The upstairs is a bit stuffier and not my first choice to sit when dining. I’ve been there 5 times now and my favorite dish was the pasta tasting menu – I was full for days but every bite of the six different pastas was unlike anything I’ve ever had, well worth it. Babbo instantly became our favorite restaurant and that’s even where my husband proposed a few years back. My obsession grew when I would run into Mario in Chicago at the Housewares Show and two years in a row, my husband and I had dinner next to him at Blackbird, Avec’s pretentious older brother. I even had the opportunity to have lunch with him at Otto, another of his NYC restaurants (if you are ever there, get the olive oil gelato and pizza with the fried egg on top, pane frattau, – out of this world). I had a client that was interested in partnering with Mario so we met to discuss the details (very hard to contain my excitement, but I was able to keep my cool). I learned that not only is he an unbelievable chef, he’s also pretty funny and totally down to earth. As a wedding present, we received an autographed menu from Babbo, which sits proudly in our kitchen and close to the over sized wooden spoon that Mario signed, “spaghetti is love.” I’m often teased for this so-called obsession, especially for the fact that we almost named our puppy Babbo but wisely chose Stella instead. I’m positive I’m not alone and if you’ve ever been to Babbo, or had the opportunity to meet him, you can, at the very least, appreciate this obsession.


  1. Posted January 30, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Mario is almost always at the bar speaking with visitors, having a laugh and interacting while showing to really be experiencing what he does. The upper level is a bit stuffier and not my first option to sit when cusine. I’ve been there 5 periods now and my preferred bowl was the rice flavored menu

  2. katieshell
    Posted February 9, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Glad I’m not the only one!

3 Trackbacks

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