In a city where Italian restaurants are a dime a dozen, it takes a lot to stand out. I just got home from having dinner at my personal fave, Mario Batali’s Otto (pronounced OH-toe, not AH-toe, but I say it that way because it reminds me of my childhood mailman named… wait for it… Otto).
Without a doubt, I’ve eaten here more than at any other Manhattan restaurant over the last few years, mainly because I never get tired of the cozy, laid-back atmosphere and the simple pizza/pasta menu. The occasional celebrity sightings – Liv Tyler, Mike Myers, and Mario himself – aren’t too shabby either.
Otto’s train station waiting area, aka bar, is HUGE by NY standards. It’s fun to see the letters on the big board click-click-click into position, telling you your table is up next. I love that the bread arrives all wrapped in paper like a present. And I could literally take a (very sticky) bath in the truffled honey and black cherries they serve with their amazing cheese course.
Certainly, I have my reliable go-to dishes (eggplant caponata and pasta alla Norma, you know who you are!) but pretty much everything I’ve ever eaten there has been totally delicious, with the possible exception of the Pizza Lardo – that one was mainly just bread topped with semi-transparent strips of pork fat, which was as gross as it sounds.
Bottom line: You really can’t go wrong at Otto, but you might want to skip the lardo. And if you decide to go, invite me! We’ll order the olive oil gelato for dessert. It sounds disgusting, but it’s divine – not sweet, very creamy with a sprinkling of kosher salt on top. Delicioso!
What’s your fave NYC eatery?