NYC — Winter 2015: OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria

Saturday, February 21, 2015
As we were still full of cupcakes for most of Tuesday evening, we didn't go out for dinner until 10:00. I decided it was a good opportunity to check out OTTO in Greenwich Village, which was on our restaurant list. I read great things about Mario Batali's "upscale pizzeria," and having had great experiences at both Babbo and Eataly (two other Batali operations), I thought it'd be the perfect place to try out casual, authentic Italian food at reasonable prices (it's an average of about $12 per dish).

Caprese salad

To start, we decided to share a Caprese salad. So, what is that baby poop-looking stuff you see in that photo above? Apparently, it's OTTO's "winter version" of a Caprese salad. We were so baffled by its appearance that we actually flagged down our server to tell him that they gave us the wrong dish. But he explained to us that it's what they serve in the winter, when there's typically "no fresh tomatoes or basil." Ummm, what? I think every other Italian restaurant in the city can get fresh ingredients for a goddamn Caprese salad, even this time of year. Basically, this version is pesto over a bed of canned tomatoes with a big slice of buffalo mozzarella embedded in it, and a sprinkling of pine nuts. Aside from the mozzarella, which was actually fresh and tasty, this "salad" was a serious flop and a major cop-out. We expected a fresh and simple salad of sliced tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella, but were presented instead with this monstrosity. $9 for fresh Caprese salad is a good deal. $9 for this shit is highway robbery.

Potato, Anchovy, and Ricotta Pizza

Quattro Formaggi Pizza

After that salad disaster, we were looking forward to our pizzas. I mean, if you're going to get one thing at a pizzeria, it's pizza. So we decided on one that sounded more "eccentric," and one that was more classic. Thus, the potato, anchovy, and ricotta pizza. The crust was decent — thin and on the crispy side — but the flavours just didn't work well together. Separately, they're great, but potato and ricotta are extremely mild flavours to begin with, and so the pizza relied too heavily on the anchovy, making the pizza as a whole taste like pure salty fish. It was seriously hard for us to finish the whole thing; I think we both left a whole slice uneaten. The four cheese pizza was much, much better in terms of flavour: mozzarella, taleggio, cacio, and ricotta over tomato sauce. I mean, it's pretty hard to fuck up a cheese pizza. I will say, however, that there wasn't enough cheese overall (I know a lot of Italian pizzas don't have the amount of cheese as, say, American pizzas, but look how stingy they were!), and it wasn't evenly distributed. You see up there, how there's a full slice with barely anything but tomato sauce on it? Like, how hard is it to place cheese evenly? 

Pistachio Tartufo

We were already quite disappointed with the dinner, so we were hoping dessert would make up for it. We decided to share two items: the pistachio tartufo, and the olive oil coppetta. The tartufo here isn't quite a traditional tartufo, but it's still incredibly satisfying as a dessert. The pistachio gelato could have had more of a nutty flavour, but it was rich and creamy, sitting atop a bed of chocolate brownie-like pieces with a dark chocolate shell surrounding it, and topped with a flurry of crushed pistachios. On the side is a sour cherry sauce which we had initially overlooked, but actually ended up being the ultimate binding ingredient. The tartness of the cherries amps up both the dark chocolate and pistachio flavours. Without the cherries, the tartufo is good, but add the fruit, and it's great.

Olive Oil Coppetta

The winner of the night, however, was by far the olive oil coppetta. OTTO has become known for their olive oil gelato, and the coppetta includes their infamous gelato with tangerine sorbetto, pignoli rosemary brittle, lime curd, blood oranges, and kumquats (these change seasonally). Five intense flavours all harmonized by their lightly sweet, addictively mellow olive oil gelato. If there is one thing to get at OTTO, it's this. It almost redeemed the pseudo-salad. Almost. Service was polite enough and efficient (though it was nearly midnight by the time we left and only two other tables there), and ambience is romantic and cozy (it's described as "Italian train station decor"), but overall, it's nothing to write home about. I'm seriously wondering if there's a secret to ordering food here because, olive oil coppetta aside, it was really quite disappointing. Either way, if you're interested in dining at Mario Batali's restaurants, I would skip OTTO, and do Babbo for upscale or Eataly for casual instead. 

OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria
1 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 995-9559
2 comments on "NYC — Winter 2015: OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria"
  1. Boo, shitty pizza is not the business, man. What the hell? That's lame. Also, I really feel like they should tell you in the menu that the caprese salad has been "winterized." I get the emphasis on local/seasonal produce, but you should at least know what to expect.

    1. Right?! Like, how can a pizzeria have SHITTY PIZZA?!?! I was kinda outraged.

      I also agree that they should've noted that it wasn't an actual Caprese salad, I felt so gypped. And I don't even think they can use the seasonal produce excuse, because A TON of other restaurants can get fresh tomatoes and basil. I'd rather have paid a bit more for fresh produce than gotten that pile of shit.


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