Friday, May 8, 2009

OTTO

Otto is a pizzeria and enoteca. It's heavy on the wine list with some accompanying food. It's owned by Mario Batali and Joseph Bastinach. If you know anything about Italian food in NYC, you would know that this tag team duo has a strong standing in this city. It's almost as if these two would open any kind of restaurant, it would succeed. Many people believe it's the good food from Mario and the food management from Joe. But unfortunately, Otto sits low on my list. It didn't impress. Everthing was just mediocre to me. I had loved Babbo and Del Posto but this is far from what I've experienced before. Here's the run down of what happened: When we first arrive, we notice the decor. Wine bottles every where. And it's already half full for a Wednesday night. We're seated promptly. Shortly after, bread and water on our tables. The waitress comes over and introduces herself. We ask her some questions about the menu. The special pizza of the week has ramps. And the special pizza of the day is salumi. She tells us that it's similar to pepperoni but not as spicy. We proceed to order the Grande Meat platter ($25) and 5 different cheeses ($15). For entrees, I get the Lardo pizza ($13), and he gets the Pepperoni ($14). First the meat antipasti. We get proscuitto, pancetta, coppa, testa, and salumi. It was good. Nothing to complain really. But I've actually had better at other places. So it didn't really impress me. The proscuitto was thinly sliced and salty. Just the way it should be. The pancetta was fatty and slightly sweet. A nice surprise. The coppa was similarly okay. But I'm partial to spicy coppa. This one wasn't. It seemed as if it lacked something. The testa was not our favorite. It's a headcheese. Not one I normally would get. But it was part of the platter. It had too much allspice. It's all I could taste. Lastly, the salumi. It was a hard type. And okay as well.
Left upper corner clockwise: salumi, testa, coppa, pancetta, proscuitto
Now the cheeses. As a complement to the plate, they offered cherries, apricots, and a truffle honey. We had the Crown Triple Cream (goat), Baita Friuli (cow), Ubriaco (cow), Aged peppercorn (goat), and Blue del Moncenisio (cow). The triple cream was very soft and delicious. It had the consistency of cream cheese but with more of a tang. The friuli was forgettable. Not much flavor compared to the others. The ubriaco was okay. It reminded us of a cheese we've had before but couldn't think of. Next, the aged peppercorn. Soft yet lots of strong flavors. And lastly, the blue cheese. Good blue. Strong but not overwhelming. Again, cheese were decent. But reiterate again, I've had better.
Left clockwise: cherries, apricots, truffle honey

Left corner clockwise: triple cream, friuli, ubriaco, blue, peppercorn
And things just didn't pick up from there. My lardo pizza was a white pizza (no cheese, no sauce) with olive oil, herbs, and pork backfat. The crust was very thin and crisp. That makes a good crust. The olive oil gave it a nice fruity flavor. The lardo was fatty and added the richness that it needed. But the topping were sparse. A large part of the pizza itself wasn't covered with anything. So at time, I was just eating plain crust. That can get very boring. The pepperoni pizza was better. But it was heavy on the sauce and light on the cheese. The pepperoni itself was spread out pretty well. The crust was thin and crisp as well. And it didn't suffer from the sauce sogging it up. It remained crunchy. The sauce I thought was too sweet for me. And I would have appreciated a more generous handful of cheese. The pepperoni wasn't spicy at all. It tasted very much like regular salami. In the end, the service was adequate. And, I was very full. I should have ordered less. Surprisingly, the pizza was bigger than I had expected. Otherwise, with a name like Mario Batali, I wanted more wow. I wanted to really like my food. In the end, it was just okay for me. The antipasti was the best part. But I could get better somewhere else. The pizza was forgettable. I would rather spend less on a corner NYC slice. In the end, I would really not opt to go here again. There are other, better, places. Otto 1 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10003 (212) 995-9559 ottopizzeria.com

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