For NYC's highest-falutin' Italo-American cuisine, Babbo still wins our vote. Si, we'll always be addicted to Lupa's escarole salad, and places such as I Coppi and even Lil' Frankie's surely have their charms, but blow by blow Babbo is pretty much untouched. It's actually not stuffy, we've only ever had good service there and found the food universally creative and delicious. Yes, we've heard rumors that others don't agree, that they find the food hit and miss or not worth all its attention - but as sometimes happens, they are mistaken. Recently at about 7:30 we dropped in and scored seats at the bar: no reservation, no wait. We shared the gorgeous braised lamb tongue with chanterelles, black truffles and poached egg over arugula - a perfect creation; the ineffably great beef cheek ravioli; and then a pink pork chop, at least 4" thick, with carmelized cipollini onions. To drink: the 1995 Caparzo -a lovely Brunello - before a cherries and chocolate Colsanto Montefalco, the 2001 sangiovese, merlot and sagrantino blend. We didn't try the menu's newest addition though: a veal chop stuffed with sauteed wild mushrooms, smeared with crushed squab liver and topped with melting fontina cheese under white truffle shavings. Some kind of deal, that, at $125.