There was a time, back around 2003, when we thought that Otto was pretty exciting. I had just moved to the city, read the book Heat, and was all about eating Mario Batali food wherever I could. Remember that this was before a sentence like "new restaurant from a Food Network celebrity" meant sh*tty food at the hands of the Neelys. Otto was pretty good, pretty unique, and worth a trip every now and again when we felt like eating pizza that we didn't have to point at through a glass sneeze guard.
Fast forward to 2012, and we can't stand being anywhere near this place. Not necessarily because the food is bad (it's not great), but because it's an overpriced tourist trap that seems to exist only to make Eataly look civilized and affordable. On our last visit we had two glasses of wine and a plate of olives and it cost us nearly sixty bucks. No thanks. There are plenty of other places in this city to get an awesome pizza and a few glasses of wine without having to do so crammed next to a guy who tried to pay for his meal with a fistful Euros from a Gucci fanny pack.
There's a wide range of antipasti available at Otto, and it's all pretty good. We like anything from the vegetable section, and we're never mad at some cured meats and cheeses. But be careful, as this stuff can add up quickly.
Otto serves mostly dried pasta on its menu, but they've recently started to offer a few fresh pasta dishes as well. We had the this goat cheese agnolotti a while back and loved it. This might be the best thing on the menu here.
Rigatoni with pork shoulder, tomato, and basil. We had a similar dish at Lupa back in the day and remember it being better there. That said, it's pork butt with pasta. It can't be all that bad.
There are so many better places to get a pie in this city that it's tough for us to get excited about the pizza at Otto. We tend to find ourselves moderately satisfied, yet generally unimpressed after every attempt here. That said, the best of the bunch are the vongole, lardo, and the fennel & bottarga.
If you do find yourself at Otto, make sure you order the olive oil gelato. It's crazy good, and you'll be ending the night on a high note.