Category Archives: Pizza

Co.: blistered 900 degree oven pizza in peace and air conditioning

co-pane

Pizza is my favorite food, and in a city like New York I get overwhelmed deciding where to satisfy my frequent cravings for it. Co. has been on my list since I learned that this civilized Neapolitan pizza restaurant was the creation of Jim Lahey, the well-known Founder of Sullivan Street Bakery. But avoiding the crazy thoroughfare beyond 23rd street always got the best of me just when I was close to testing it out. Now that I’m moving in September (to San Francisco before going to school abroad for a year – happy yet sad for many reasons, so let’s move on), I had no excuse to deny my urge to sample Jim’s pizzas when my hankering for crispy crust came on.

Fortunately, the wait-times have really died down over the past three years, and our party of 3 was seated right away. We started with a simple, tiny radicchio shiitake mushroom salad served with taleggio cheese, which was nothing more than a hunger teaser. The vinegar was bright, and the taleggio cheese was creamy and strong. We then tasted two pies, both unique in their own right: the meatball pizza with tomato, mozzarella, meatball, and caramelized onion, and the Popeye pizza with pecorino, gruyere, mozzarella, black pepper, garlic and loads of leafy spinach. I loved them both. The spinach pizza was bright, summery and healthily prepared with greens piled on top of a lightly-cheese covered pizza dough, and I didn’t miss the tomato sauce at all. The veal meatballs on the meatball pizza were the perfect addition to an otherwise plain tomato and mozzarella pizza, and the caramelized onion rounded out their saltiness perfectly. Though this pizza did come with sauce, I would have liked a little more of it.

radicchio salad with taleggio and mushrooms

radicchio salad with taleggio and mushrooms

Co.-Meatball-Pizza

Meatball pizza with olives and caramelized onions

Popeye pizza with spinach, gruyere, pecorino and mozzarella

Popeye pizza with spinach, gruyere, pecorino and mozzarella

Dough is obviously a key element to the quality of the pizza, and I have to say that the crispy, blistering pizza dough at Co. was one of my favorites. Its chew, texture, and weight and stood up to the bounty of toppings like a champ.

Co. is a great spot for those who want high quality traditional Italian pizza in a zen, pristine setting, almost identical to the aesthetic of San Francisco’s casual Out The Door. As a person who takes restaurant ambience preferences seriously, this is my kind of pizza joint, and I’ll definitely be coming back. Just keep in mind they don’t serve hard liquor.

Grade: A- (I’ll take the minus sign off when I get a plate of free bread)
Location: 230 9th Avenue @ 23rd Street
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Filed under Affordable Date, American, Chelsea, Fun Group Dinner, Italian, Pizza

Landmarc in Tribeca

When Landmarc restaurant comes to mind, I think of two things: clients and parents. With a straightforward and sophisticated salad-pasta-meat-fish menu, round tables, fairly low noise level and residential location, it makes the perfect setting for a formal occasion with adults (including myself). Sara and I decided it would be a great place to try for her mom’s visit this week.

Be sure to bring your iPhone flashlight application – without this, I’m not sure we would have been able to read the menu in the darkness of the restaurant. With the variety of interesting appetizers, our table selected a few to share. Though not as thin and crispy as I had expected, the crispy prosciutto and Fontina Flatbread was my favorite. I was unimpressed by the bland smoked mozzarella and ricotta fritters, which for $13 only came with a three tiny fried zucchini spears and three small rounds of fried cheese.  The tuna carpaccio, on the other hand, came just as described with a refreshing black olive salad and tuna sliced so thin it was almost invisible.

flatbread

fritters

Tuna

I was very pleased with the pan seared salmon, which came with buttery corn and a healthy dollop of earthy pesto. I rarely am served a rare salmon when I request it, but this came out perfectly pink and tender with a layer of seared crisp skin. There are a ton of salads to choose from for those looking for something lighter, and I loved the cold chopped salad that came with celery, cucumber, and my favorite – hearts of palm. Most intimidatingly heavy menu items can be ordered in half portions here, which I love, considering I’m always afraid to commit to one main dish!

hearty chopped salad

delicious salmon

When it comes to dessert I am most critical, but the platter of mini tiramisu, chocolate mousse, creme brulee, a blueberry crumble, and a chocolate eclair was pretty much divine. For someone as indecisive as when making food choices, mini of everything is a no-brainer. And I usually hate lemon desserts, but I couldn’t get my hands off of this subtly sweet lemon tart with freshly whipped meringue.

platter of minis

My judgement of Landmarc remains. It is a solid, well rounded, and reliable restaurant that provides an ideal experience for family outings or a crowd with diverse preferences. Don’t expect to be blown away by any unique executions, but be confident that you’ll leave with a satisfying meal.

Grade: A-

Location: 179 West Broadway btwn Leonard and Worth Streets

Website: http://www.landmarc-restaurant.com

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Filed under American, Business Meal, Californian Cuisine, Fun Group Dinner, Parents in Town, Pizza, Tribeca

Italian smorgasboard at Buon Italia Food Stand

*photo taken from Stuyspectator.com

I’ve worked above Chelsea Market for over a year, and though I longingly look at the Buon Italia stand on a daily basis, I regret to say that I’ve only been a patron there twice. As a cash and take-away only establishment, it rarely fits my criteria for a leisurely experiential meal after a long day of work. For a quick weekend dinner, however, it’s perfect, so I decided to give it a whirl on this past rainy Saturday.

It could have been the weather, or it could have been my attempt at recovery from a measly bike ride, but something in the air kicked up my craving for a hearty, homey, italian meal. Food shopping while hungry is the worst idea for the money conscious, but for some reason I find it amusing – the options tend to seem endless and I end up trying things I wouldn’t normally if my stomach grumblings were control. So, in the display masterpiece of all the pasta, salads, grilled vegetables, and seafood, I zoomed right in on the chicken eggplant parmigiana sandwich. And just to really round out my review experience, I decided to throw in a salami and cheese calzone. Right then and there I knew any potential of going out was shot – but I know my priorities.

I warmed the sandwich and calzone in a 375 degree oven at home and waited no longer to dive in. The bread of the sandwich was hard and crusty, a little too much for my liking, but the salty, juicy eggplant and crispy chicken were an easy distraction. The sandwich could have benefitted from a heartier helping of fresh mozzarella, but after eating one half I realized that the sandwich untouched was filling enough.

more chicken parm variations

The calzone, however, turned out to be a deep fried mess. Yep, it tasted like a cheese and meat filled funnel cake. And the cheese wasn’t the typical mozzarella you would expect in a calzone, but a lighter, crumblier version of ricotta. After one bite I couldn’t get over the amount of grease on my fingers and lips, so I decided to go no further. This calzone is not for the dainty or mild, so hard-core New York italians, step right up.

I love Buon Italia, but I’ve re-assessed my evaluation. It’s not the best place for calzone and your typical italian sandwich – better quality pizza and hero renditions are easily found elsewhere in the hood. This little stand truly serves its purpose for a quick deceptively-prepared meal if you’re having guests, or a fabulously hearty italian dinner to go. Or, if you’re making a cheese plate and want a few out of the ordinary additions, grab some marinated artichokes or olives to sprinkle around. But make no mistake by skipping the massive market inside – it’s actually the best italian shop I’ve seen in the city, and the cheese selection is phenomenal.

Grade: B

Location: Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave between 15th and 16th street

Website: http://www.buonitalia.com

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Filed under Affordable Date, Cheap Eat, Chelsea, Italian, Meatpacking, Pizza

Lievito

My family and I wanted something simple and easy after a weekend of big meals, so after considering every possible restaurant in the neighborhood, we decided on Lievito at the glance of their homemade pizzas and abundant table availability.  With a house full of native italian waiters, an italian-english menu, and absolutely no air conditioning, I only had to close my eyes to imagine I was in the center of Florence’s Piazza della Republica, waiting patiently for my waiter’s attention.

Lievito front

Lievito attempts to impress its diners with classy table settings and a sophisticated menu, but simultaneously screams casual with two flat screened TVs live with soccer and somewhat lackadaisical service. Regardless of the setting, the menu prices mirror the $18+ entrees that surround the area, so don’t expect a reprieve from inflated costs and refined food.

Mom looking at the menu

Despite the lengthy menu of unique appetizers, my mom and I decided to split the radicchio salad with candied tomatoes and the pizza vegitariana with parma ham. The salad was fresh, well dressed, and subtly sweet. The pizza, however, lacked flavor, requiring relentless additions of salt and pepper that turned my meal into an arm and shoulder workout. Fortunately, the freshness of the mozzarella and tomato sauce helped the situation.

fatty parma ham on our vegetable pizza

homemade italian bread with flavored butter

The most memorable part of the meal was surprisingly the homemade complimentary bread, probably the closest rendition of Tuscan bread I’ve tasted in the US. My assessment of the pizza in one word, however? Fine. Definitely not the best, and considering this place resides between Keste and Co., two of the best pizza spots in the city, I doubt I’ll return.

Grade: B

Location: 581 Hudson Street and Bank Street

Websitewww.lievitopizzeria.com

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Filed under Italian, Pizza, West Village

Trattoria Zero Otte Nove

When my manager mentioned that the Bronx Botanical Orchid Show was just off of the famous Italian Arthur Avenue, I didn’t hesitate for a second to buy tickets and plan a Saturday around food and flowers. With the sun shining and the birds chirping, it felt like the perfect spring day as Sonia and I schlepped up to 198th street, cameras in hand.

orchid show

After walking through dozens of beautiful orchids (which has over 20,000 species) and throughout the garden, we had worked up a serious appetite for a good Italian meal. Not knowing what to expect about this renowned Arthur Avenue, we were a little taken aback by the blasting 1980’s radios and the worn out awnings of the first two blocks. But I had arrived with a plan, and after reading dozens of Yelp reviews about Zero Otte Nove, nothing could stop me from having an old school Italian lunch in an apparently Tuscan setting.

the walls of Zero Otte Nove

We were instantly reminded about our displacement from Manhattan when we were greeted with a smile and seated immediately. And with all of the Italian waiters and the wood-fire oven in plain view, if we really concentrated and tried to imagine, we sort of felt like we are in Florence. Sonia and I attempted to eat lightly by ordering three antipasti: the antipasti freddo with meats, cheeses, and eggplant, the bufala caprese with a cannellini bean salad, and an insalata di arugula with pear and goat cheese. Considering we were starving, we did an awesome job of shoveling two baskets of fresh, salty focaccia before our food arrived just minutes later.

mixed meats and cheeses

look at that cheese!

insalata

Everything we ordered was straight forward and delicious, especially the massive green olives on our antipasti plate, but we couldn’t get over the fact that everyone around us was tearing apart piping hot, fresh and crusty pizzas. Everywhere we turned, a long strand of cheese stretched from plate to mouth, and we couldn’t help but feel we ordered wrong. Just as we were close to tears, the waiter came to talk to us, and after a little back and forth, he said something that was like an answer to our prayers. “Would you like to try a little pizza on me?” Before he could finish his sentence, Sonia and I shrieked in happiness as if we had just won the lotto. And the pizza was as good as we had expected – he kindly brought out both the fresh pizza margarita and the pizza caprese with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and arugula. We had no intention of eating the entire thing but of course, who were we kidding.

pizza!

Lesson learned: don’t try to eat lightly and avoid eating what you really want – you’ll end up having to rely on the waiter’s good intuition to make you happy! Zero Otte Nove was absolutely delicious and exactly what I had hoped for: a laid back environment, a family Italian feel, and a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I definitely recommend it to anyone who happens to be in the area, or as a piggy back event for the Botanical Garden visit. But if you’re not – don’t fret: they’ll be opening one on 21st street in just two weeks. Fortunately, living in Manhattan you never have to wait too long for anything.

Grade: A (mostly for the pizza)

Location: 2357 Arthur Ave off of 187th St

Website: http://www.roberto089.com

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Filed under Bronx, Fun Group Dinner, Italian, Pizza

Rubirosa

cut out review

Had it not been for Sonia, Rubirosa would have fizzled in my mind like the various nondescript spots I ignore en route to bigger and better prospects (like Torrisi Italian Specialties). But when she grabbed my arm and moaned about their incredible vodka sauce pizza upon passing it last weekend, I knew it had to be something special. Coincidentally enough, just days later I came across a Serious Eats article marking Rubirosa as Nolita’s “best bets for pizza right now.” All signs urged me to suggest it as a meeting place for a much anticipated reunion with my college friend Ashley.

Front of Rubirosa

At first glance, one could mistake Rubirosa for a cheesy overpriced tourist trap, similar to the front runners on Bleecker between 6th and 5th avenue. The menu alone however is good indication that there’s history and love behind the delicious, red sauce italian food. Inside, a  narrow bar lines the side of a few high top tables, which leads to a handful of regular dining tables in the back. Low lighting, good music, and the smell of mozzarella cheese make it ideal for any laid back occasion.

The complimentary bread was just the unremarkable quality I would expected at a pizza restaurant, but was served immediately before ordering, which I really appreciate as someone with low blood sugar. After studying the large medley of bruschetta (at $2.50 a piece), we decided to share the meatball bruschetta, which came with fresh tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, and the rubirosa salad with arugula, cucumbers, tomatoes, croutons, and mozzarella. The bruschetta was excellent, and tasted identical to the ridiculous Dino’s meatball subs I once ate as pre-schooler in San Francisco. Fresh, gooey cheese with toasted olive oiled bread, complimented with a massive meatball only properly edible with a knife and fork. The salad was light, simply dressed, and straight forward, and the croutons were hearty and well seasoned.

Rubirosa salad

Meatball Bruschetta

We also ordered an escarole bruschetta, but when our waiter arrived with a side of escarole instead, we came to the sudden conclusion that words had been lost in American to Australian translation. Though he blamed it on my miscommunication, he was kind enough to leave us with the vegetable sides and take the items off our bill.

For our main course, we split a small pizza, which was far larger than what I’m used to eating at frilly pizza spots like Pulino’s or Otto. Despite utterly thin crust, the pizza fed us well with layers of sauce, mozzarella, peas, and prosciutto. Each slice sturdily held up its toppings and was stable enough to eat with our hands. My (requested) vodka sauce tasted great on the side, and the subtle creaminess balanced out the saltiness of the cheese quite well – I would definitely go for the vodka sauce pizza next time around. Overall, though, the pizza was hearty, flavorful, and wonderfully wood-oven charred. And the one up Rubirosa has on other wood oven pizzas is their 10:1 topping to crust ratio, as opposed to that of Pulino’s, for example, whose surface area is massively overwhelmed by unexciting crust.

prosciutto pizza

Another pizza to taste...next time

I would undoubtedly return to Rubirosa to try yet another one of their delicious pizza combinations. Each table I could spy on had something totally unique but enticing, so it would pay to come with a group to have the chance to taste a variety. At just $40 for the two of us, Ashley and I left extremely satisfied in terms of not only our appetite, but with the feeling that we definitely got our money’s worth.

Grade: A-

Location: 235 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012 (b/n Prince and Spring Streets

Website: http://www.facebook.com/pages/RubirosaNYC

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Filed under Affordable Date, Cheap Eat, Family Style, Fun Group Dinner, Italian, Nolita, Pizza

Snacks at Eataly – again

My friends know that I can’t let a week pass without visiting Eataly to do some Italian food window shopping and buy a snack or two. Considering its convenient location by my favorite 5th Avenue shops, there’s absolutely nothing stopping me from taking a peek when I’m fully aware I’ll exit with something delicious.

Last Sunday, I was close to being bed-ridden as a result of excessive wine-drinking and mozzarella-eating the night before. I awoke with every intention of staying in bed and watching a movie, but when I peered out the window and saw the sun glistening on remnants of white snow, I immediately became anxious and knew I needed an excuse to frolic. Nothing at all could have motivated me more than a trip to Eataly. Did I need anything? No. But that couldn’t deter me from curing my hangover with a Mario creation.

a place I call home

My first stop in Eataly is always either gelato or bread. This Sunday, it was bread, and after meeting my friend Sonia outside, I dragged her straight to the counter to peruse the fresh focaccia. The first to go is the fresh tomato and mozzarella focaccia, but to my surprise, there was a tray hot out of the oven. I paid at the counter and pulled it apart immediately, sharing with Sonia who was also looking for an alcohol absorbant. The hard edge was delicious, but the cheesy center tasted like the crusts of a soggy white bread sandwich. It was inedible, and I was shocked that this came out of Mario’s kitchen. Still, this one anomaly won’t prevent me from getting focaccia again – I’ve had amazing slices here before – I’ll just continue to stick to the dryer toppings like onion, prosciutto, and cheese.

gorgeous yet soggy

I’d say my absolute favorite thing at Eataly is the rustic walnut bread, and I became hooked at first sample. Now I buy a loaf each week, slice it up, and stick in the freezer to compliment my meals at home. It’s best fresh, but simply toasted with butter is out of this world.

dense, chewy, earthy walnut bread

I’ve always been obsessed with Eataly’s bread, but my appreciation for it grew after reading that its operative ingredient,  yeast, came straight from a chef who illegally transported it from Italy. This authenticity is what intensifies the dough’s flavor – making it actually better than the saltless bread that I so often remember from Florence’s trattorias. Eataly, however, will never take Italy’s place in my heart….though the fact that it could lug me out of sleep on a Sunday morning shows that it’s getting pretty darn close.

Grade: A+ for the walnut bread, B for the focaccia

Location: 200 5th Avenue @ 24th Street

Website: http://www.mariobatali.com/restaurants_eataly

*first two pictures from SeriousEats.com

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Filed under Erin's Favorites, Gramercy, Italian, Pizza

Pulinos

This week has been a Keith McNally celebration. Brunch at Pastis last Sunday, dinner there last Thursday, Minetta Tavern last Monday, and now Pulinos last night. Pulinos totally fits the build of all of his brasserie-esque restaurants: a big, in your face sign, checkered floor, massive bar with a show case of liquor, wooden tables and chairs, and an invigorating, inviting, hustle and bustle of waiters and crowds of customers waiting to be seated. I had low expectations for Pulinos – I’ve read disappointing reviews about the dinner, but mixed reviews about the brunch. Still, after watching a show on the Food Channel about the chefs step by step process of making a Pulinos pizza, I had nothing stopping me from giving it a try.
My friend Sonia and I went sans reservation at 7:30pm on a Saturday, and we had no problem getting seated. We sat at a small table outside on Bowery street, which had a great people-watching view for me, as I was seated with my back to the restaurant.
We were not given any bread to start, which of course put me off, but the delicious cocktail options calmed my stomach while waiting for our food. I was in an adventurous mood and tried the “Italian Summer” – a mix of gin, grapefruit juice, ginger, lime, and basil. It tasted more like a screw driver, and the basil was too subtle, but it was just sweet enough to chug. Mid dinner I opted for one of the many campari specialities – the “Macedonia,” which consisted of sour cherry, prosecco, campari, honey, and lemon. Definitely too sweet, contrary to the waitress’s opinion, but smooth, unique, and delicious nonetheless.
Our starter was a huge hit – we ordered the roasted broccoli with hen of wood mushrooms, parmesan, fennel, lemon, and garlic breadcrumbs. The flavor and textures were incredible – zesty, citrusy, crunchy, soft, crispy – and the mushrooms and broccoli were perfectly roasted, and fortunately not overly oily. I could have made a meal out of this appetizer.
Sonia and I then split our own twist on the Pizza Margharita, as we added funghi, prosciutto, and arugula. It came out piping hot with charred, thin and almost cracker like crust, and a generous portion of toppings. The pizza was cut in rectangular pizzas, which I actually think is optimal for sharing, and we didn’t have to struggle to pull them apart. I poured a little more olive oil on top to give it an extra richness, as it had very little tomato sauce, but we thoroughly enjoyed and finished every last bite. I’d say while the pizzas are slightly bigger than those at Otto, they aren’t exceptionally different in terms of quality…I hope I am not offending any pizza experts by writing that…(picture below was taken off of Yelp, as I forgot to photograph in the excitement of eating).
We took a look at the dessert menu, which had a ton of unique Italian options, but decided to continue on the savory train and order some fresh burrata, which came with apples and prosciutto. We asked for extra bread and devoured this as well. The cheese was soft, creamy, and covered in a fruity extra virgin olive oil. Tough to resist despite the fact we had just shared a cheesy pizza.
Overall, Pulinos was a solid choice. I love the vibe, as I do for all McNally restaurants, the service was friendly, efficient, and accommodating, and the food was delicious. I wouldn’t say that it lives up to all of its press and hype, but it’s definitely a good choice for a night you want to make an event out of dinner, with fun atmosphere, light, tasty, and sharable food, and a long list of cocktails fit for a king.
Grade: A-
Address: 282 Bowery Street at East Houston

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Filed under Drinks & Apps, Fun Group Dinner, Italian, Lower East Side, Pizza

Scuderia – the bread is small but it’s really good

I have been dying to go to Bar Pitti and Da Silvano, but my attempts are generally cut short by the long waits any night of the week. The other night, I passed by the two restaurants and sure enough my concerns were justified – long waits and crowds outside. I glanced across the street in sadness, and a dimly lit awning caught my eye. “Scuderia” it said. The name suddenly brought me back to an article I had read about the restaurant that noted it was a cheaper version of the two Italian restaurants it faced across the street. In fact, its co-owned by Silvano Marchetto of Da Silvano.
I was ecstatic that I remembered this – I dashed over and to my delight was greeted and seated immediately. Upon arrival I immediately noticed the full bar – such a rare commodity for good Italian restaurants. The restaurant is filled with good tables; there’s a large area of out door seating, and the restaurant’s full sized windows open to make the whole space feel airy, familial, and summer friendly.
The menu is comprised a variety of typical yet refined Italian fare – pizzas, panini, pastas, primi, secondi, and a few choices of tramezzini (small bites) to curb the appetite. The food is well priced, and you can definitely eat a delicious, filling meal without breaking the bank. The wines by the glass are also fairly cheap – I had a delicious cabernet for just $7.50. For food, I tried the insalata pizza with mozzerella on wheat crust and the Paccheri alla bucaiola – a deliciously dense pasta (somewhat like ravioli without filling) with spicy sausage, sweet peas, and cream. Honestly, the pasta was hot, perfectly seasoned, and to heaven in my mouth. The little bits of caramalized sausage sealed the deal. The pizza was simple – a wheat crust pizza with a pile of lettuce on top – tasty but nothing over the top or spectacular. The salad atop the pizza came with mango, something I would never imagine throwing on a pizza in an Italian restaurant, and probably wouldn’t recommend.
Overall, the service was friendly and accommodating to my random requests (sauce on the sauceless pizza, bread immediately, etc). I would recommend trying Scuderia if you want something Centro-Vinoteca-esque with a more laid back, open air feel, edgy feel. It’s a little bit remote on a wide 6th-ave block, but once you’re inside you may forget you’re in New York (which is sometimes a good thing).
Address: 10 Downing St between Minetta St & Avenue Of The Americas

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Filed under Fun Group Dinner, Italian, Pizza, West Village

Otto Otto Otto


Otto Enoteca Pizzeria has been reviewed countless times – it’s widely renowned among New Yorkers and tourists alike due to its famous owners Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. For all the hype, the prices are very very reasonable, and I view Otto as the perfect place to go with a group for an affordable but fun, exciting and energetic meal. It’s the perfect solution to that “where should we go out to dinner before going out Saturday?” question, but the only problem is making a reservation. If you are planning a week ahead and want to go on a Saturday, forget it. They allow walk ins, but anticipate to wait at least 45 minutes for a table. Even with a reservation my mother and I had to wait 20 minutes to be seated.

On the bright side, Otto has set up a perfect waiting area for its diners. Around 8 tall wooden tables allow those waiting to be seated to stand casually to order drinks, cheese plates, or any other antipasti that the menu offers. Though I admit I felt awkward leaning over a four foot table while shoveling cheese and bread in my mouth, everyone around me shared in the experience of communal snacking and lively conversation, so I wasn’t too out of place. Modeled after an Italian train station, Otto has a very creative way of notifying their parties ready to be seated – upon arrival, they hand them a ticket with the name of a train stop, and they are told to look out for that name on the list of train stations constantly changing on the wall. This keeps the diners in suspense as they wait to be seated, and also provides somewhat of a fun activity to do in the mean time. It also brings them back to an Italian train station.

On to the actual dining experience. Once we were seated at our very Italian, wooden square table, our waitress quickly brought us bread and listed the specials. Slow wait to be seated, speedy process to get you the hell out of there. As a group of four, we ordered two pizzas, two pastas, a salad, and a broccoli and pecorino antipasti. The waitress claimed we would still be hungry after that, but this was clearly enough food for our table (and my family generally eats a lot). The salads here are simple – we ordered the arugula and tomato salad, which based on the description you can probably tell it was nothing to write home about, but a good simple compliment to an carb filled meal. The cheese plate was delicious, accompanied by candied cherries, fresh honey, and sweet apricots – so unique a great contrast to such saltiness.

Now for the pizzas – I remain to be a fan of the quattro stagioni pizza – a traditional pizza that strives to represent all four seasons with one fourth ham, one fourth mushrooms, one fourth peppers, and one fourth squash. Perfect for those who are indecisive. The pizza marguerita, which my sister ordered, was boring yet delicious. The pizzas here are definitely worth waiting for, as you can’t find any rival in New York City – They are thin, piping hot, covered with the perfect amount of bright red tomato sauce and shiny white mozzarella cheese. The best part about them is that they aren’t filling – one Otto pizza is actually what I consider a light meal. Who ever thought pizza could be light?

I generally stay away from the pastas when I come here, but being with my mom ordering pasta was a given. My favorite was the spaghetti carbonara – cooked perfectly, precisely portioned with the right amount of creaminess to contrast the chunks of crispy pancetta. Rather than being smothered in cream sauce, the noodles were just lightly dressed and stunningly seasoned. YUM. My mom also ordered the pork shoulder rigatoni with tomato sauce. This was delicious, but I am not a huge fan of pork. Order this if you like that braised, smothering taste of rather lean pork shoulder. Pastas were both al dente, which I love.

Dessert was stellar, which is SO unusual for an Italian joint (but then again, this isn’t just any Italian joint). We ordered the “black and white” – milk chocolate chip gelato, hazelnut brittle, creme fraiche gelato, chocolate sauce, and caramel whipped cream. Wow. That combo was like a science project – each bite brought a new, delicately sweet flavor that I had never experienced. The brittle was quite subtle, and was by far the best part of the dessert. All gelato at Otto is made in house, and you can definitely taste the difference. Highly recommend this dessert for a creative take on gelato.

Soooo when all was said and done we definitely enjoyed our experience at Otto, though if you are looking for something more leisurely, this is not the place to go. With such high demand it’s not surprising that their turnaround time is short, but the delicious food and the possibility of seeing Mario is more than worth the rush.

Address: 1 Fifth avenue at 8th street, 10003
Website: http://www.ottopizzeria.com


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Filed under Affordable Date, Cheap Eat, Fun Group Dinner, Italian, Pizza, Private Party