By coincidence, I dined at Babbo and Felidia on consecutive evenings last week. The two restaurants are related, as Felidia is owned by Lidia Bastianich, while her son Joe is a partner in Babbo.
We had the pasta tasting menu at Babbo, and as I noted in my blog post, the savory courses ended in a whimper. There’s no reason why a progression of five pastas can’t all be terrific, but in this case there was a failure of imagination at the end of the sequence—nothing bad, but too bland. And the bread service was disappointing, with neither butter nor olive oil in sight.
At Felidia, we had the five-course market tasting menu (~$75)—one of several multi-course fixed menus the restaurant offers. I wasn’t taking notes that evening, but we started with an excellent beef carpaccio; then a salad-like substance that was the only dud; then an excellent quinoa risotto and an even better duo of squab. I wouldn’t rush back for the bread service, but with several spreads in lieu of butter, it was at least acceptable.
The wine list has moderated a bit since my last visit. There are plenty of budget-busting bottles, if you want them, but I had no trouble finding reasonable options under $50.
Service was excellent, but for one serious faux pas at the end. Our server said, “We need the table for another party, but please feel free to have a drink at the bar.” I don’t think any three-star restaurant has ever asked me to vacate a table, and I don’t believe we lingered longer than one normally would at this type of restaurant.
But if they’re going to invite you for a drink, they should at least follow through. Instead, we were left to fend for ourselves, and when we got downstairs the bar was packed three deep. It was obvious that the offer of a drink was only a ploy to turn the table. I am glad that Felidia is not struggling for customers, but this should have been handled better.
Felidia (243 E. 58th Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenues, East Midtown)