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Babbo Zoning Vote Delayed by Gripes About Idling Limos and Smashed Bottles

By Andrea Swalec | February 14, 2013 12:45pm | Updated on February 14, 2013 1:04pm

GREENWICH VILLAGE — The celebrated Mario Batali-owned restaurant Babbo's bid for a renewal of its permit hit an unexpected snag when a neighbor irate over idling limos convinced the community board to postpone the vote.

CB2 postponed its vote on whether to approve Babbo's request to keep a waiver that allows the pricey eatery to operate on quiet Waverly Place, which is officially zoned only for residential use.

That approval was expected to sail through CB2 Wednesday night, an official said before the meeting, but a surprise David vs. Goliath battle arose when a neighborhood resident unleashed a tirade about the hot spot, which he says lets idling limos clog the block and spew exhaust fumes.

He also blamed Babbo for creating an ear-splitting ruckus by not crushing their scores of disposed wine bottles before they're picked up by garbage trucks.

"They're very wealthy, but somehow they forget their neighbors," said next-door-neighbor Nuri Akgul, 57, who has lived in his duplex for the past 16 years.

Akgul, a retired English-as-a-second-language teacher, said he's been trying to tamp down on noise and exhaust for more than a decade.

Akgul said Babbo agreed in July 2001 to contain its noise, including from its exhaust and air conditioning systems, which he said are so powerful they rattle the walls of his home. He's followed up on that agreement with years of unsuccessful calls to restaurant management and 311, he said.

He added that a stack of wine bottles from the restaurant owned by Batali — who has a vineyard in Italy plus an empire of restaurants that includes Del Posto and Eataly — sound ear shattering when they're crushed by garbage trucks. Babbo had promised to smash them before they get picked up in the middle of the night to reduce the clatter, the neighbor said.

Babbo attorney Deirdre Carson said she wasn't prepared to respond to the gripes but admitted the restaurant had received complaints.

"We entered into a written agreement to fulfill these issues," Carson said.

Complaints about limos lining up outside Babbo to whisk away well-heeled customers are longstanding, as the New York Observer reported in July 2001.

The city Board of Standards and Appeals will hear Babbo's application at a public hearing Feb. 26.