Otto Restaurant Enoteca Pizzeria
1 5th Ave
New York, NY
Otto: Italian for eight. In NYC, it means another Batali/Bastianich enterprise.
If you’ve read Heat, it’s hard not to remember Otto. The incident where Batali, angry at Bill Buford who has been pulled off the line and is standing in a corner, marches into the kitchen and stuffs his mouth with a large piece of griddle pizza and states “this is the taste America is waiting for”. Based on the crowds, apparently this was the taste they were waiting for.
It’s ostensibly a pizza and wine bar. But it has a fairly extensive menu. And is huge – this place is a stadium with the noise to match. It is quite hit and miss in my books. Pizza’s are good. Cooked on a griddle (not in an oven), they develop an interesting taste. A bit bland though.
The antipasti’s have their fans too. The vegetables were small servings of marinated or tossed vegetables. Have to say, at $4 a pop, it just wasn’t worth it.
The charcuterie was a bit of a disappointment. Cured meats were decent, but lacking in anything that blew me away. Lacked any punch or really interesting flavour.
Desserts, on the other hand, were spectacular. The cheese platters (uhmm, clearly taken a bit late in the meal) represented an excellent cross section of Italian cheeses.
And the gelato. I have to agree with my dining companions – some original, and surprisingly tasty flavour combinations. The best of the best was the Olive Oil gelato. Yes. Seriously. A total knock out. Creamy, fruity, a bit pungent, this was fantastic. All the subtlety of olive oil brought out in this chilled medium.
Otto is a reasonable place to eat. They take reservations, they seat a million, and the prices are pretty reasonable, especially for the location. I feel like they try to channel you to drink wine, which isnt a bad thing, but at the end of the day, you have some decent food at decent prices, and some sparkling dishes in a monstrous sea of choices. Experiment a lot or pick carefully. You will hopefully find some of those diamonds too.