One would think that a marquee, world-famous chef’s first foray into the Hub’s dining sphere would bring with it all manner of hype and hyperbole, and a place to drop an entire week’s pay in a single dinner. While the former was definitely true for Mario Batali and partner Joe Bastianich’s just-opened Seaport eatery, Babbo Pizzeria, the latter thankfully isn’t quite happening.
Barely open a few weeks, the restaurant has already attracted both cheers and jeers from foodies and the media alike. (The negative reactions are less for the quality of the food and more because a 2012 tip-skimming lawsuit and eventual settlement has left some in the service industry with a sour taste in their mouths for Batali and Bastianich.)
But now that it has opened, after first announcing plans for a Boston locale back in 2012, the fact that you can head here on a date and eat and drink heartily—and still be able to afford dessert—should by itself be a reason to make the journey to the Seaport. And according to GM and BU grad Caroline Conrad, the price point was definitely intentional.
“We wanted to be a humble pizzeria that anyone—a college student to someone buying vintage [bottles of] Barolo—can afford,” says Conrad, who is quick to coach diners through the menu’s pizzas (“the margherita is perfect,” she says), cheeses hailing from Western Mass, cured meats from Batali’s salumeria in Seattle, and the rest of the streetfood à la Italy.
There’s an array of options from the ocean (try the salt-cod spread-y Bacala Mantecato, but ask for extra crostini) and with Boston’s rich food culture “anchored in products from the sea and the bog,” as Batali puts it, it makes sense that the Seaport would be chosen as the venue’s home base for Boston. “We like being near the water, but we’re especially impressed by how quickly the seaport is being developed,” says Batali, adding, “The neighborhood is going to be big.”
“We’re confident that Bostonians are the sort that will appreciate our brand of hospitality and that we are able to love them back in a very good way for a very long time,” says Batali. “We hope [we’re] here to stay.”
BABBO PIZZERIA. 11 FAN PIER BLVD., BOSTON. 617.421.4466. BABBOPIZZERIA.COM