Saturday, February 19, 2011

OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria, New York, NY

So...OTTO is Mario Batali's "low end" pizza and pasta joint in NYC (and, mind you, it's "OH-toe", not AH-toe"). Okay, whatever.  And,'s pretty cool inside, designed to look like a train station. And, true...I did like the terracotta paint on the walls and the hip vibe...but jeebus, it's little more than an upscale Spaghetti Warehouse that desperately needs to tone down its ridiculous aura of self-importance.  It's not like OTTO is the The French Laundry.

I made our reservations on, upon which time I immediately received the email memo that our party of three MUST all be present before anyone would be seated...and got a follow-up voicemail echoing that policy (also reminding me that it's OH-toe, not AH-toe).  No problem.

Our party of three was promptly seated upon arrival (all at the same time, thank gawd...I wouldn't want to have to be waterboarded).  Service was efficient and brusque...that's the best I can say about it.  No one wants you to overstay your welcome at OTTO. 

We started by ordering a $35 bottle of sparkling wine (and subsequently ordered a second) and were little surprised that it was served in wine goblets as opposed to sparkling wine flutes.  Cold, nondescript bread wrapped in brown paper was unceremoniously plopped down for our enjoyment.

I began the meal by ordering the Fennel, Apple and Walnut Salad...which was fine and fresh, but which I was not inspired to finish because it wasn't particularly special and I was saving stomach room for the main event.

Our young companion ordered a "salad" of roasted red peppers, pine nuts, pesto and cheese, which pleased her mightily.  I actually couldn't stand the sight of it, however...but I seem to have been a "hating" mood that night.  Hey, it happens (dayum hormones).

Really, what I thought was the star of this meal were Underdog's Charcuterie and Cheese plates. The meats were ridiculously good (Prosciutto, Lonza, Coppa, Testa and Salumi) and the cheeses were accompanied by Truffle Honey (which absolutely rawked) as well as Apricot and Cherry spreads (also both very nice with the cheese).  I hate to mince words...these offerings were to. die. for.  Even if our server did whisk away the truffle honey, apricot and cherry accompaniments before we were finished with the cheese.  Again, lingering is not appreciated up and get out.

Pastas?  Fairly forgettable.

I went traditional and selected the "Spaghetti & Meatball" Wednesday night special, which was fine in a Buca di Beppo kinda way (although I thought the meatballs were somewhat better than average and UD actually thought they were outstanding, but he's on his own as far as that assessment).  "Unremarkable" is the adjective that springs to my mind when I reflect back.

Brooke loved her Spaghetti Carbonara, however...although the taste I got of it did not bowl me over (at least not in the way I was expecting to be bowled over by a pasta dish with a Batali stamp on it).  By this time, I was desperately wishing I could be beamed back to La Viola in Philly.

The hub-unit ordered a weird, sauceless pizza topped with potato slices, anchovies and ricotta, which no one liked. WTF???  Who dreamed up this abomination?  I can't believe it was my Mario!  I'll bet he wouldn't put this in front of Jeffrey Steingarten.

Desserts were mostly gelato-based and also uniformly mediocre (to be fair, ice cream, gelato, sorbet, etc., treats are not my favorites to begin with).  I got the $9 Meyer Lemon Pannacotta with Huckleberry Sauce and Meyer Lemon Sorbetto, which was pretty good but fell short of being even remotely memorable.
Brooke ordered the Guiness Stout Coppetta - Dark Chocolate Gelato, Guinness Stout Gelato, Coffee Bourbon Sauce, Chocolate Crumble and Peanut Crema.  This is what an $11 ice cream sundae looks like:

Finally, Jimbo opted for the $11 Black and White, which was probably the best dessert of the bunch:  Milk Chocolate Chip Gelato, Hazelnut Croccante, Creme Fraiche Gelato, Chocolate Sauce, and Caramel Crema.  He's a frozen treat lover and really enjoyed it.
If this is your idea of a $250 "pizzeria" meal, go for it.  We don't mind paying top dollar for fine cuisine, but I felt that the food quality and experience did not warrant the price tag.  I would never return...except perhaps for the cheese and charcuterie (but if I did, I'd keep a death grip on that Truffle Honey until every morsel of cheese was gone).

Otto Enoteca & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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