Friday, April 1, 2011
I recently checked out Otto with my dad. Part of Mario Batali's NYC Italian empire, it reminded me a bit of Eataly (see review: http://amateurchefofbrooklyn.blogspot.com/2011/02/eataly.html) in both decor and menu, but that's a good thing. The bar area has high marble table tops to stand at and sip wine, and the view to the open pizza kitchen is an excellent visual appetizer. The train station theme was both entertaining and maybe a bit much at the same time- the hostess hands a slip of paper with the name of an Italian city on it, and instructs each guest to watch the board for our 'departure' to know when the table is ready. Seemed like extra work to me, but I could imagine kids thinking it was the coolest.thing.ever. But it still felt a bit forced....
I liked the menu which had options of pastas, pizzas, cheese and meat plates, and a wide array of vegetable sides/appetizers. We tried two- cannellini beans, which were awesome and seasoned with sage and celery, and tasted, as my dad put best, "just like Grammy's stuffing", which was what I was thinking too. We also had some red and yellow roast beets, and accompanied by the fresh baked bread, it made a nice start to the meal.
For my entree, I had my 'usual'- pasta with red sauce and eggplant. I love this dish and order it at many restaurants- Otto's version was tasty, but I must say the pasta was about as al dente as it gets without actually being undercooked- it was a little underdone for my taste, but the sauce was amazing and I cleaned the bowl anyway, so obviously it did not ruin it for me, lol. My dad tried a different pasta with a sauce that included braised pork shoulder which he really loved.
I knew from other reviews to save room for dessert- and I was sooo glad I did- because the gelato was as good as rumored. I tried the hazlenut straciatella, which is a combo of two of my favorite things anyway, and it was delicious. They give a nice large cupful which I could barely do justice to, but it was totally worth it.
Perhaps the service was the only part I did not love, it seemed a bit scattered, but the check was another nice surprise- with the pastas super reasonably priced at $10 each, and the antipasti at $5, it was by far the cheapest Batali meal- and one I can easily afford on a regular basis and for any old weeknight. What a nice discovery- and I so will be back!!!