Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: I hate revolving doors.
It is easy to pass by Otto that is located in the Village and close to the NYU campus. Besides the maroon awning, you could mistake it for a NYU administration building. Inside Otto is modeled to have a timeless yet suave look of a Euro train station that you can imagine if this was Roman Holiday and combined a traditional enoteca. Maybe add in a weird sewer stench (no doubt given the Euro Zone lately, the sanitation department is most likely on strike) and street urchins making passes at your pockets and it will be just like that! Above the hostess stand is a faux timetable of “trains” destinations to major European cities, specifically cities in Italy.
|Bread and grissini- easy to stash for later|
A fresh freshman out to lunch with the parents, stated loudly that the faux schedule were names of bigger parties that were waiting to get seating and the city names were the last names of the parties. I do hope that private school education is put to good use Mom and Dad, and hope to god she is not going to be a poli sci major. However, if I am wrong, my apologizes to the Napoli family. Sarcasm aside, Otto feels to one of the most accessible restaurant in the Batali Empire and family friendly yet could pull of a respectable casual date here (I mean, if I went on dates this would be fine, right?).
The bread comes out in a neatly wrapped parcel and a pack of grissini, I guess it adds to the “in motion” type of theme going on here at Otto. Note, they do not give you any olive oil or butter and if you want to, you must ask for it specifically. The bread crusty and springy and a nice sourness that I actually could have eaten on its own but not everyone is weird like me and since I was not dining solo for once, we got some olive oil which I believe they use at all the Batali restaurants. The olive oil is quite good, grassy and buttery and smooth throughout. The antipasti are a must at Otto especially the vegetables. I generally do not praise vegetables but the vegetables are a must get here at Otto. We opted to go for one of the constants, the cauliflower alla Siciliana and the season-like one the autumn corn with fregola, (bead-like pasta). Covering the USDA Dinner plate slot, we got the octopus, celery and lovage (herb). Enough Bread! Food After the Jump!
|Good looking Veggies|
The antipasti are all served in earthware ramekins and a sizeable portion. The cauliflower was cooked but still had a nice bite to it and the Siciliana part of the dish, which I am assuming is the addition of some chilies and olives offered a nice contrast. The autumn corn was fresh and sweet and was a descent mix with the fregola that was a tad gummy that is an unfortunate result of being served cold. The octopus was tender and the crispy and slightly bitter celery worked perfectly. The antipasti and salumi alone are great eats at Otto and I would not hesitate to order just items off of that part of the menu again.
For the mains we of course had to try one of the pizzas and I was in a fishy mood I guess so we went with the Romana, capers, anchovies, chilies tomato sauce and mozzarella. I guess this is why I generally eat solo because I can hear people across the interwebz tisk in disgust at the addition of anchovies to a dish especially so prominently. Also I know somewhere; Scott Conant is disapproving the seafood and cheese combination. This will result in an unfollow on twitter most likely (Yeah, he does not actually follow me). All I can say is, don’t knock it till you try anchovies on a pizza, specifically good anchovies on a pizza.
The combination of salty anchovies and rich tomato sauce is a great combination. The addition of a throaty spice tingle from the addition of chilies is a great balancing factor to the rich anchovies and sauce; however as good as the flavor combinations were on the pizza, meaning the crust and the dough was simply okay. The pizza itself it more like a flatbread and the bottom of the pizza lacked very little color that did not add to the flavors of the pie. The dough did not really taste like anything which is unfortunate, given Otto is dubbed as a pizzeria, one would expect to be blown away by any of the pies but that was not the case.
What did blow me away was the order of goat cheese agnolotti tossed with lemon butter and sprinkled with fennel pollen. The agnolotti (think small ravioli) were prefect light little pillows of creamy goat cheese. Gently tossed in a lemon butter, and sprinkled with fennel pollen that infuses a exotic sweet floral aroma completed the dish.
|goat cheese agnolotti|
Despite the pizza the desserts at Otto, specifically their gelato are another reason to stop by. Their desserts rotate and changes based on the seasonality of ingredients and the Olive Oil Coppetta. The Coppetta is served in a martini glass and composed of Olive Oil gelato, orange curd, a Concord grape sorbet and fennel brittle. This medley of ingredients all work together and create a nice fall tasting dessert. The Olive Oil gelato is subtly fruity and sweet and a good contrast to the sorbet. The Fennel brittle may seem a bit out there but imparts a great salty licorice crunch.
I have to concur with many that have ate at Otto before, while most certainly will be back, it is not the pizza that I am excited to eat on future returns, it is everything else. The pasta, the antipasti and desserts are beautifully prepared yet the pizza is okay, it is not bad by any means but compared to the rest of the menu it just does not stack up and the middle of the road characteristics of the dough just does not support the toppings, it is just a transport rig for the toppings. Many reading are questioning, is that not pizza is? No. it is not. The pizza is a magically combination of dough, toppings and heat needs to work in tandem together to create an euphoric bite meaning if any other part of a pie is not at the same level as the rest, this will result in a mediocre pie or in the worst case scenario, bread, tomato sauce and cheese.
Otto Enoteca Pizzeria
1 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10003-4312