It’d been a while since my last pizzadventure with Scott, so I was SUPER excited to head out last night to Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca Pizzeria. The food was so good, at the time it left me speechless, but hey – the blog is for verbalizing food, so here goes!
This photo isn’t mine, but I felt it necessary to show the vibe of the restaurant. It’s modeled after an Italian train station, though I can personally vouch for the fact that besides the schedule sign up front, it’s MUCH nicer than an Italian train station! We were extremely well-attended to the entire evening – water constantly refilled, wine filled from the carafe when my glass was low, managers checking in. Best of all (for me, at least) – it’s totally casual and unpretentious, despite the extensive and high-class wine list.
We skipped appetizers and went straight to the pizza, which was reasonably priced at $7-15 per pie. We went with the classic Margherita D.O.P. and the Cacio e Pepe (above). According to what I’ve read about Otto, they cook their pizzas on a griddle then broil them, rather than baking them in an oven. Perhaps due to this, their crust is extremely thin and crispy and does not sag with the weight of its toppings. This also means you don’t feel heavy or overwhelmed consuming it, as it’s light and flavorful.
Cacio simply translates to cheese as far as I can tell, and this pie is a mix of mozzarella, pecorino, and parmesan, coated in a thick dusting of coarsely grated black pepper; NO sauce.
Perhaps it was the large amount of cheese, but there also seemed to have been olive oil sprinkled on this pie, which made it extremely greasy. Past the point of just adding a nice sheen, the grease straight up dripped down the pie onto the plate. Apart from the mess, it was still incredibly delicious. After a while, the black pepper became a bit overwhelming, which made the light, sweet Margherita such a welcome accompaniment.
At first glance I was a bit disappointed by the sparse amount of cheese, but the sauce was so intensely flavorful that it was easily forgotten. Sweet and pure and not overly spiced, the sauce stood solidly on its own, complemented by the small basil leaves added post-cooking. The crust was crunchy with the perfect amount of char adding a burnt, toasty taste. I actually found that I enjoyed the cheese in small doses as sort of a special treat rather than taking over the pie.
Now, it would have been a shame to visit Otto without trying their much-revered gelato. We chose the olive oil and milk chocolate chip gelato with tangerine sorbetto. NONE of the flavors disappointed. We were both incredibly shocked by how much we enjoyed the olive oil gelato, which somehow preserved the essential olive oil flavor (drizzed on top with salt as well) while still remaining creamy. The milk chocolate chip, as per Scott, tasted like a “melted chocolate bar,” and its flavor was so perfectly on point for light gelato (as opposed to heavy ice cream). The chips melted in your mouth. The tangerine sorbetto was so refreshingly fruity and sweet. We even tried combining 2 flavors (and even 3 flavors) at once, and they were all spectacular together.
Now get up, and go. But make a reservation first.
OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria
One Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003