Otto Pizzeria, New York

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’.

Sitting by the fountain at Washington Square

Sitting by the fountain at Washington Square

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.

Washington Square.  The restaurant is through the arch and on the right-hand side of 5th Avenue

Washington Square. The restaurant is through the arch and on the right-hand side of 5th Avenue

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.

Yes, there's scaffolding

Yes, there’s 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.

A great place to sit and relax

A great place to sit and relax

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.

Love the entry doors

Love the entry doors

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.

Rustic interior

Rustic interior

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.

The bread is brought to the table wrapped which does seem a little like being in a cafeteria

The bread is brought to the table wrapped which does seem a little like being in a cafeteria

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.

Wrapped bread

Wrapped bread

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.

Otto Chopped Salad - $10.00

Otto Chopped Salad – $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.

Margurita Pizza - $11.00

Margherita Pizza – $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.

Pasta - $11.00

Pasta – $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!

Yum - proscuitto!

Yum – proscuitto!

Verdict:  Incredibly good value.

Otto Pizzeria:  1 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003

Ph:  (212)  995 9559

Displays of great produce are throughout the restaurant

Displays of great produce are throughout the restaurant

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!

Washington Square Park on a summer's day

Washington Square Park on a summer’s day

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  1. I had to laugh at the fork only. Americans eat with the fork in the right hand and swap and cut with a knife in the right hand and then put the knife down and put the fork back in the eating hand. When I first visited Australia John thought I had no couth whatsoever but he wouldn’t hurt my feelings.

    “In the American movies they eat properly,” he said.

    Then when we went to the states he said, “I’m sorry, they all eat like you used to.”

    I have him the evil eye.

    That pizza joint looks pretty good!

  2. Great visit. I have a craving for spaghetti carbonara now. 🙂 Luckily it’s past my bedtime.

  3. What a series, Charlie! Thanks for taking us to all you’ve been to, not only restaurants but also places of interest! 🙂

    Gourmet Getaways

  4. What a great find! I can’t wait to get back there myself and try this place. We made a carbonara a week or so ago and it was lovely, we don’t eat pasta very often so it was a nice treat.

  5. that carbonara looks great but i am on a low carb diet at the moment so no pasta for me.
    thanks for the tour.

  6. This looks like quite a find. So many great Italian places to eat in NYC–this looks like an authentic winner.

  7. Your pasta looks like just what I am feeling like having for dinner.
    Have a wonderful weekend Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  8. —-The pizza looks Fabulous!
    Charlie, I’m afraid I eat w/ a fork….
    but while in England, I go w/ the flow!
    you know what they say (who is they?)
    While in Rome… xx

  9. Definitely a wonderful series. I’m looking forward to your stories from LA to learn more about the city where my son-in-law lived before moving to Minnesota.

  10. This place looks like such great value and the food looks wonderful! My mouth watered at the image of the carbonara. Delicious!

  11. Clever you for finding the restaurant. I’m catching up with neglected blogs right now. My granddaughter was born 4 weeks early and I’ve been busy supporting the family. Nice to have a little bit of virtual OE through your blog.

  12. G’day GREAT post Charlie!
    I LOVE chopped salads and experiencing Otto’s is always something fun and delicious to do! Glad you enjoyed! Miss American pizza!
    Cheers! Joanne

  13. Absolutely no value judgment here, but after decades of visiting the US I am still trying to make sense of the fork in the right hand ‘business’!! If eating how the ‘rest of the world’ does, one is not that noticeable in NY, LA or SF, but I have had some sweetly amusing episodes in restaurants in smaller places, esp the Mid-West!! Funny to be aware people at other tables are actually watching you eat and rather obviously discussing the matter 🙂 ! Remember being at a table of a dozen or so in a place near Detroit [we had all been to Ford coy conferences, mostly Europeans, the conversation being basically in German and French with a little Italian thrown in]. This oh-so-helpful lady from a neighbouring table came over, apologized and stated ‘Dear, I don’t know from what foreign country you come from but you obviously do not use a knife and fork there : no this is how it is done!’ !!!!!!!! When I quietly told her all the rest of the world ate like I did, her big worry was how to bring all the ignorant to the ‘right’ way of eating!! True story!!!!!!

    • That is too funny, Eha. I do observe the way others are eating in restaurants (like recently being in an RSL where a mother and father were taking their young children to dinner and the parents set the example of putting food into their mouths with their knives) but I don’t know that I could ever go up to someone else and tell them their apparent short-comings. It’s true that the rest of the Western world holds a fork in their left hand, their knife in the right and NEVER switches between the two whereas in the US…well….they have their own way of doing things!

      • Now you have me laughing again!! As I said: to each their own!!! The darling woman was obviously embarrassed and truly trying to be helpful – how can one get cross 🙂 ? But for certain she did not believe me!!!!!! . . . . Well Ignatius Loyola said ‘give me a child for the first seven years of its life and that child will be mine forever’! Sad if the littlies, thru’ no fault of their own’, learn so poorly, be it table manners or other matters] . . . . . . . Pouring here and supposedly getting stormy: rain nice, but hate the wind . . .

  14. Did you say Los Angeles? We’re talking a whole lot of area, so I’ll be really curious to see what your sister has in store for you. Do let me know if you can. 🙂 Your restaurant reviews are just fabulous, Charlie. You really do know how to enjoy a dining experience in everything from the most posh restaurant to a reasonably priced pizza place. You’ve had some wonderful experiences in New York…I hope L.A. doesn’t completely disappoint. 🙂

  15. That’s great and for once they didn’t rush you out! 😀

  16. The Italian restaurant looks like a great place to hang out! All of the food dishes you have shown us look yummy!
    I love buffalo mozzarella on my pizza too! MMMMMM!

  17. This looks very swish, and the food looks terrific – and cheap! It is hard to come back to the prices here – I was in bill shock for a week or two.

  18. Food looks fantastic, Charlie! I want to see Washington Square … although I’ve been to New York twice now, we haven’t managed to squeeze it in … maybe next time!

  19. Charlie, this is a lovely trip. I’ve been in the US for more than 7 years and still did not visit NY!!! but I actually want to go there and the best time is summer ofc. Waiting for you LA posts.

  20. Epic copper doors – LOVE. Love NY in general to be honest. Loving your posts!
    T x

  21. The chopped salad sounds like it was full of goodies Charlie, but definitely nothing I’ve seen on a menu here. The pasta is always a favourite too- yummo!

  22. These dishes look so good! I would have had to have ordered the black truffle pizza. I get so hungry just thinking of it. Your carbonara looks divine too. What a great find! I have to get back to NYC one of these days.

  23. My kind of pizza place! 🙂

  24. Ive only been to Otto once but I remember the pizza being delicious. Now you have me wanting to go back 🙂

  25. I miss NYC – hopefully I can check this place out next time I visit.

  26. Now I absolutely need pizza! No doubt about it, if there was a chunk of mozzarella cheese in front of me, it would not last long 😛

    Choc Chip Uru

  27. I wonder if these places will start serving gluten-free pastas, what with everyone finding out they are gluten intolerant and all? I wouldn’t be able to eat anything on the menu but salad….which is fine, I love salad. xo

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