When my trip to New York was definite, Em said, ‘On the night you arrive, just go across the road from the apartment and you’ll find a great Italian where you can get a quick pizza or pasta’.
Well Arabella and I went across the street from the apartment and didn’t find it and assumed it must have closed down. This was how we discovered Amelie instead.
While walking back from The Frick Collection 0n our last day in New York, I walked along 5th Avenue and suddenly saw Otto Pizzeria. I realised this must be the restaurant Em had said was right across the road from our apartment. The big reason we didn’t find it is, like most places we visited in New York, it is concealed with scaffolding.
In a couple of hours we would both be heading to the airport so we decided to have lunch at Otto Pizzeria with a plan of being so full by the time we were flying across the US we would be able to refuse the airline food.
The restaurant’s entrance is through heavy rotating brass doors and once inside we were quickly greeted by a friendly face and shown to a table. As this was a lunchtime seating, we were able to easily get a table but I have heard that reservations for a night sitting are recommended. The restaurant is very large but divided into sections so it’s not a cavernous space. It seems rustic with a great ambience and had it been wine-o’clock I would have taken a seat at the bar to experience the great range of Italian wines – one at a time.
The floor is tiled so I imagine this would be a fairly noisy restaurant when full to capacity. There are wooden chairs and tables with linen napkins and the walls are painted in warm sienna tones.
Complimentary bread was brought to our table and the grissini were in a packet and the bread wrapped in baking paper. I did think this was a strange way of presenting bread but as it’s complimentary there’s no need to complain. Our waiter asked if we would like to try the chilli oil with the bread and the oil was fruity with a prominent heat from the chilli.
We started looking through the expansive menu that has a lot of interesting Italian dishes we could have tried but we weren’t terribly hungry and we were a little short on time. I noticed a lot of people around me had ordered the Otto Chopped Salad and as ‘chopped salad’ is not something you ever see on an Australian menu (and probably not on an Italian menu either), we decided to order it to share.
In keeping with New York tradition, the salad arrived quickly and yes, everything on the plate was well chopped into bite-sized pieces and I noticed that everyone ate this with just a fork in one hand. The salad was beautifully plated and full of crunch and texture with a great range of ingredients including mixed lettuce, chick peas, olives (wouldn’t have minded a few more), and parmesan cheese. It had a lovely light dressing that was mildly flavoured so it didn’t overpower the salad ingredients and there was a balance between the amount of salad and the dressing so there wasn’t a drenching. I thought this salad was very generous in size and terrific value for just $10.00.
Arabella wanted a pizza but wasn’t up to anything remotely interesting like the black truffle pizza so ordered the Margherita with tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil. She loved the thin, crispy crust and said there was a lovely balance of cheese and tomatoes – not too cheesy, not too acidic. It was quite a large pizza for a single serve and great value at just $11.00.
I ordered the Spaghetti Alla Carbonara with pancetta, scallions, black pepper and egg. Again, it was a very generous serve and I was unable to finish it but this carbonara was sensational. The pasta was perfectly cooked and it twirled around the fork with ease. The batons of pancetta were plentiful and the egg sauce very rich and creamy. It was just what I needed before a long flight and again, very good value for just $11.00.
We would have loved to have stayed longer to try the renowned olive oil gelato but alas, we did want to have a walk through Washington Square Park before heading back to the apartment to finish our packing. We paid the bill which seemed excellent value for the quality of food presented and as we walked out, wished we had found the restaurant much earlier in our visit. It would have been good to have been able to go for dinner and work our way through the cheeses and cured meats and wine list and give the dessert menu a try. Another reason to return to New York!
Verdict: Incredibly good value.
Otto Pizzeria: 1 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003
Ph: (212) 995 9559
And this ends my series of posts on New York. Thank you for your positive feedback in letting me know how much you have enjoyed the series. Next stop…Los Angeles!
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