Otto (pronounced “Oh–Toe”) is the most casual of the Mario Batali–Joseph Bastianich series of restaurants. There is a large bar area (the Enoteca) that serves wine and bar food, and a dining area with table seating.
The name of the website (ottopizzeria.com) indicates the restaurant’s theme. The menu is dominated by eighteen kinds of pizza ($7–15), both “classics” and house creations. Antipasti include a wide variety of cheese, crudo, and salads. Only six pastas are offered (all $9). The place is family-friendly, and I saw many tables with children.
As I wasn’t very hungry, I ordered only the Penne con Noci e Zucca, with hazelnuts, butternut squash, and smoked ricotta. It was prepared with a light touch, with the flavors pleasurably balanced.
Service was slow, although at 4:30 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon there was no good reason for it. After I sat down, there was a long pause before anyone came to my table; another long pause before water came; another before bread. The pasta also took its sweet time to arrive. The only thing the staff did quickly was to deposit a bill after I was finished.
The bread service consisted of two slices of baked Italian bread wrapped in wax paper, and bread sticks still in their commercial wrapper. I think a server was supposed to pour some olive oil onto a plate for dipping, but none arrived.
Otto must have the most serious wine program of any pizzeria. The wine list is substantial, and there are regular wine tasting classes on offer. I have some trouble imagining who orders the $375 Barolo to go with their $14 pizza. Indeed, quite a bit of the wine list seemed over-priced in relation to the menu, but who am I to question Mario Batali?
A review based on one dish can only be provisional, but Otto is clearly a cut above most pizzerias, and the food prices are quite reasonable. With the money you save, you can do some serious supping on the wine list.
Otto (1 Fifth Avenue, entrance on E. 8th Street, Greenwich Village)