Babbo Italian Eatery’s is a comfortable atmosphere in mellow browns and soothing designs. Size variation among the many locations lends a different ambience from restaurant to restaurant — for instance, Arrowhead feels more intimate; Cave Creek, more open and informal; Scottsdale, the most spacious. Décor is understated, with framed old-timey-style photographs creating a sense of friendly welcome. Many of the photos are, indeed, personal photos of this family-owned enterprise; others celebrate employees but are in the same style. It’s an environment conducive as much to relaxing from the stresses of the office as to conducting business discussions.
Oil drizzled with rich balsamic vinegar makes great dipping for the fresh bread while guests make decisions from the menu. Chopped pistachios adds a new flavor to traditional insalata caprese, one of the appetizer options. One of the most popular are the flavor-filled firecracker rolls, wonton skins wrapped around fillings that include chicken with spicy buffalo sauce. Even the side salad is beyond ordinary — greens not topped with a perfunctory tomato wedge but tossed also with black olives and mushrooms and topped with grated parmesan. Pasta dishes include the Creamy Pesto Fusilli, the tasty sauce making this a pesto-lover’s prize.
To the traditional Italian menu, from salads to calzones to pizza, Babbo also offers protein bowls of brown rice, red quinoa, broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini and carrots topped with a sweet and spicy honey chili glaze and choice of salmon, steak, chicken and shrimp. Another innovation Babbo recently debuted is a cheese wheel as an exhibition preparation. Like some Mexican restaurants make guacamole tableside, Babbo prepares a weekly special pasta dish that gains extra cheesy creaminess from being mixed in the bowl-like depression in the 50-pound, 17-inch-diameter wheel of cheese. This special is currently offered only at the Scottsdale location, which, as the largest, offers the most floor space to wheel it from table to table. The latest pizza innovation, however, is available at all locations: cauliflower. No, not a topping, but incorporated into the thin, crispy crust to add an unexpected piquancy to the standard flavors.
Babbo Italian Eatery
Nine Metro Phoenix locations