I have been to many transporting Northern Italian "pasta" based restaurants. I have been to most of Mario Batali's restaurants and have found them to be world class. From Del Posto to Casa Mono and The Spotted Pig Mario finds great chefs, has high standards, and does a great job. The problem with Babbo is that is WAY TOO popular for your own good as a diner. The place is so busy and so crowded that, while it is an exciting mob scene experience, they simply cannot provide the world class food and service that the menu, chef, ingredients, staff, and venue is capable of.
I hate to say this as a diner but I know it to be true: Mario needs to literally double the prices here to get "crowd control" and quality control. I know this because I had one of the best meals of my life at the B&B Ristorante in the Venetian in Las Vegas eating the same menu items I had a Babbo. The B&B is a virtual knockoff of Babbo also owned by Mario and Bastianich. The room, menu, and everything is almost identical - but it is not over crowded - and guess what? The prices for each identical dish are almost double what they are at Babbo - which is a general reversal of what I find most NYC celebrity chef restaurant price comparisons with the Las Vegas spinoffs.
I believe Mario and Bastianich are intentionally pricing low and overstuffing the place with diners as a homage to their first really successful restaurant - it is almost a public service to them to allow as many people as possible to enjoy the place. I can easily see why many people think this is an incredible value and unbelievable menu - it is just not what it could and should be.