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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)

Food: *
Service: slow
Ambiance: *
Overall: *

Reader Comments (6)

my boyfriend and i waited for over an hour early on a saturday eve. felt like the ancient mariners as we watched beautiful young investment bankers swoon about extremely over-salted pasta and dismal service.
so loud that broadway and 14th seemed like the dead zone.

never again..........

March 8, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterkate

A regular customer, and I think it's great--food, service, hip/active atmosphere with a contrast of families.
Delicious antipasti and Batali-derived pastas at
easy price points. Unforgettable gelato.

A true gem.

March 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSilk

ummm kate, i feel that way at many of the most popular restaurants in the city on a weekend night.

March 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEuge

I love Otto. I was there tonight. Great food, even better food, and a hopping scene with killer music. Sure its loud and crowded on the weekends, what Cool place isn't?
I always eat at the bar and the service is Amazing! I love those bartenders....
Thats the best way to eat there.

As far as a $375 Barolo with a $14 Pizza, isn't that what decadance is all about? If you can afford the wine, but are choosing to eat and spend your night at Otto, Thats what I call Good Taste!

March 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLacey

I love Otto as well. I have eaten there many times at the bar and at the table. I never had a problem with the service, the food is excellent and the gelato is superb. The atmosphere is interesting because it combines the best of Italy with the best of the U.S. This is what Mario Batali is great at.
On a couple of occasions I had a few hours to kill and sat in Otto with a glass of wine and a dish of pasta. I felt free to sit as long as I wished both at the bar and at the table. One time, along with an assortment of interesting adults at the bar, there was a little boy sitting at the end doing his homework and eating a dish of gelato. The bar tender was pleasant and professional. I could've sat there all day just enjoying the company and the good food and wine.

March 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterrose

This has to be the most pointless review I've ever read.

March 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLincoln

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