Lunch with Laura at OTTO

October 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Yeah, yeah, another lunch at OTTO. But this time it was necessary, since my sister Laura is currently going to school only a couple blocks away and she’d never been before. We started with an antipasti of shrimp, chickpeas, and chiles. Spicy and surprisingly flavorful for a cold dish.


Then for mains, we stuck with my favorite pizza, the prosciutto arugula, and ordered the pasta alla norma, which may be my new favorite dish. Eggplant, bufalo mozzarella, and tomato might not sound that exciting on paper, but OTTO executed this pasta wonderfully. I loved mixing all that delicious gooey cheese with the crispy but tender eggplant and tomato until it emulsified into a creamy, rich sauce and the pasta was perfectly al dente, with just a little bit of bite.

Pasta alla Norma

Prosciutto arugula pizza

And of course, a meal at OTTO isn’t complete without a taste of the olive oil coppetta. This dessert is seasonal, so every time I come back, the components have changed. This time, accompanying the olive oil gelato we had figs stewed in red wine, fennel brittle (which I didn’t really like because of the strong anise flavor), Concord grape sorbet, and orange curd. Divine.

Olive oil coppetta

So, Laura’s verdict? She absolutely loved it and said she’d come back again and again for a relatively inexpensive but refined pasta. Lucky for her, she can do that.

Lunch at OTTO

May 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

OTTO is probably one of my favorite places to eat in NYC. The service is always friendly, ambiance is casual, and the food is great. Yesterday, I went with a friend and we ordered the classics – spaghetti alla carbonara and the prosciutto arugula pizza – and also indulged in a bottle of 2006 Kuenhof Sylvaner, recommended by the waiter. The white wine was very dry and very mineral-y and went well with our food.

2006 Kuenhof Sylvaner

I’ve always wanted to make spaghetti alla carbonara, but a lot of the recipes that I’ve seen online seem to be modified versions, using cream or bacon or whatever. At some point this summer, I’ll probably be using this recipe, from Batali himself, to attempt a homemade  dish. Anyway, the one at OTTO was creamy from the egg yolk and very savory, with lots of crunchy pancetta bits.

Spaghetti alla carbonara

The prosciutto arugula pizza was excellent as well.  Whenever I go to OTTO, I always tell myself to try the other choices but never fail to order this one. Something about the richness of the prosciutto against the bitter and freshness of the arugula always pulls me back.

prosciutto arugula pizza

Pasta and pizza, together

Finally, for dessert, we got the olive oil coppetta (possibly my favorite gelato dessert in NYC) and this time, the gelato came with lime curd, tangerine sorbet, a pineapple rosemary marmaletta, and kumquats. I really really love the pop of the sea salt on the olive oil gelato and although I thought I wouldn’t care for the pineapple marmaletta, aside from the gelato itself, it was probably my favorite element.

Olive oil coppetta

So, if you’re ever in the West Village with some friends and looking for a casual place to eat that also happens to have a very, very extensive wine-list, I highly recommend trying OTTO. You won’t regret it.

A Voce and Otto Enoteca Pizzeria

June 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Saturday I met with not one, but two, good friends from Georgetown. I started uptown, where Melissa and I had lunch at A Voce, Missy Robbins’ relatively new Italian restaurant that has spectacular views of Columbus Circle. We began with their delicious and fresh focaccia bread and something new – a creamy goat cheese with spices, tons of olive oil, and fresh herbs. I could’ve eaten that for an entire meal actually.

Our main courses were the pappardelle with rabbit sausage and fennel and sagne all’amatriciana with bacon, onions, etc. Although my pasta was a bit hard to eat since it came in long thick sheets, it was so rich and full of flavor that I didn’t really mind. The rabbit sausage was tender and spicy, and even though there wasn’t an actual sauce, the fennel and onions imparted great savoriness and well-roundedness to the dish. We didn’t order dessert, but later, the waiter came over with a small plate of doughy fritters sprinkled with powdered sugar and drizzled with floral honey, a nice (and free) end to the meal.

Afterwards, we walked around the beautiful Time Warner building, only to find that the Samsung store had set up giant television screens and chairs for people to watch the USA vs. Ghana World Cup match that afternoon. So we spent the next two hours digesting our food and agonizing as the US team failed to convert on their shots on goal.

At around 5, I headed downtown to Washington Square Park, where I met Amy for dinner at OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria, Mario Batali’s casual eatery. It was already packed by the time we got there, but luckily since we’d made reservations, we didn’t have to deal with the crowds.

We started off with one of the special salads, with cucumber, watermelon, and sharp sheep’s cheese. I’d always been curious about savory salads with watermelon, but this was surprisingly good. The sweetness was balanced by the acidity of the balsamic vinegar and the cut of the red onions. We shared a prosciutto arugula pizza (my favorite) and a plate of the bucatini, which came tossed with guanciale (kind of like Italian bacon), onions, and other yummy goodness.

But the definite highlight of the meal was the olive oil coppetta. Olive oil gelato topped with large flakes of sea salt (weird, I know, but don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it), passionfruit granita (essentially Italian ice) basil syrup, fresh strawberries, and lime curd. Salty, sweet, tart…it was one of the most harmonious desserts I’ve ever had. And now everytime I go back to OTTO, I’m going to have to get it.

A Voce at Columbus Circle
10 Columbus Circle, 3rd floor, NYC

OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria
1 5th Avenue, NYC



Shake Shack and Otto

January 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Wednesday was a really good day. Anne, Maria,Tonia, and I went to the Tim Burton exhibit (photos on dessin numero 1) where we didn’t have to wait in any lines because we’d ordered timed tickets beforehand. His drawings were amazing, and there was even a letter to Johnny Depp asking him to insert the “everything’s edible except you because if i could eat you, that would be called cannibalism” line! The only gripe I had were the crowds, but I guess that could only be expected with such a popular exhibit.

Because it was way too cold to eat outside, we headed to the Upper West Side to grab some Shake Shack. On the way, we passed the Fordham Law School area, which was wonderful. Going to school there would definitely spoil me.

Shake Shack was awesome, as always. Delicious, well-seasoned burgers with a tart freshly squeezed lemonade. Even better? They had Food Network playing on their televisions, so we got to jeer at Sandra Lee combining canned ingredients while we chomped on our food. Whatever’s going on with Scripps and Cablevision better be solved soon, because I will not tolerate being parted from Food Network for very long.

Afterwards, we spent a good chunk of time in Soho, mostly on Spring Street. We checked out the crazy skeletons and bottled penis bones at Evolution (where I seriously contemplated buying a butterfly wing pendant and Tonia had an equally hard time deciding whether or not to get the beetle wing earrings), made the obligatory trip to Uniqlo, and had a good scrub down at Sabon, where I bought a lavendar apple scrub that may just be my new obsession.

Dinner was at Otto, because we wanted something light. The pizzas definitely surpassed our spaghetti alla carbonara, which I’m going to remember for next time. My favorite was definitely the prosciutto arugula, mainly because I can’t resist good prosciutto and the greens balanced out the meat’s delicious fattiness.

However, the best part of the meal was definitely the Olive Oil gelato. So creamy, so tasty. My first bite got all the sea salt sprinkled on top so that wasn’t too pleasant, but after that, sigh. The olive oil taste doesn’t really hit you until later. At first, you just taste the rich sweetness. Maria and I also ordered a tangerine sorbetto that was packed with citrusy flavor.

SO: culture, shopping, and delicious food all in one day. We traveled from midtown to the UWS to Soho, covering most of Manhattan. Can you think of a better way to spend your time?

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