OTTO is Mario Batali’s “cheap” and more affordable dining option for those looking for an experience by the man with the orange crocs. Although some rave about the pizza, I think it’s pretty bad. The sauce does nothing and the crust just sits there…over it. However, I do love the cheese plate appetizer because it comes with sweet condiments: honey, jam and almonds. In addition, the antipasti and homemade gelato are amazing which makes this place worth coming to. I like to order the cold Shrimp antipasti and toss it on the Baby Spinach, Ricotta Salata and Truffle Honey Salad for an entree. Skip the Pasta Alla Norma, and go for the Rigatoni Con Stracotto with the Braised Pork Shoulder that melts away in your mouth. Now this pasta will sure put a twinkle in your eye.
One of the best parts about OTTO, is that it’s really perfect for groups, and the food and price are agreeable for all. It’s not too hard to get a res, you still feel like you get a NYC atmosphere, and the high-top tables at the entrance of the restaurant create a great standing wine bar if you just want to grab a drink. It’s also perfect for a first date because it’s crowded, not too quiet or too over the top. The walls are a red-orange color making it look like pasta sauce exploded everywhere. When your table is ready, you will see your name come up on the marquee board that makes a noise as the letters rotate. It’s very entertaining.
Basically, you should probably just go for a birthday because it’s a good “excuse” to sample the gelatos such as: Stracciatella, Olive Oil, Vanilla, Milk Chocolate or my favorite Caramel. Better yet, you can get a gelato sandwich smashed between Brioche. I’ll take the OTTO Banana Tartufo though- nothing better than a brownie sundae. (Apologies for no photo, but I wouldn’t have gotten a bite if made time to snap it…)
***FYI there is an OTTO Gelato cart in Washington Square Park during the summer. Yum!