Otto, Jan. 21, 2005

1 Fifth Ave.

This was my first visit to
Otto and was lucky to have had the opportunity to try an assortment of dishes thanks to my in-laws who took me out for my birthday. Diners included my wife, in-laws, brother-in-law and his girlfriend - who we all met for the first time last night. Here's what I tried...


Olives (Gaeta, Sicilian, Alfonso)
Cauliflower "alla Siciliana"
Eggplant Caponatina
Sformato di Parmigiano
Arugula with Tomato

Everything was very good. The Caponatina and sformato being exceptional standouts. The Sformato was really quite excellent. I'll have this again. The Caponatina was good, perhaps NOT as good as the kind at I Trulli, but we'll get to that in a little bit.

Carne Apps

Wild Boar (special)

The prosciutto was perfectly cut, room temp and simply phenomenal and the Wild Boar had the most complex taste - truly excellent. I couldn't get through the testa...try as I might. The stuff is just really unpleasant to look at and the taste is just not for me. The Lonza was dry and not so good. The Soppressata was the sweet variety, unfortunately, and the coppa was pretty good but nothing exceptional.


Prosciutto Arugula Tomato, Cacio, Mozzarella, Crudo,
Balsamic Onion & Goat Cheese

The prosciutto was the standout but I liked both very much. Despite negative reviews of the pizza, I found them to be quite good. The crust was crispy as I like and better than the bread they gave us at the start of the night. Blech. Terrible bread. The pizza really isn't worth ordering as "take out" but the pasta would be...


Penne con Noci e Zucca Hazelnuts, Butternut Squash, Smoked Ricotta
Spaghetti alla Carbonara Pancetta, Scallions, Black Pepper, Egg

The smoked ricotta was dense and delicious. An interesting dish, perhaps 2 months too late to be on the menu. But very good. It screams "November" to me. VERY good, but not the winner I thought it would be. The carbonara was delicious. Wow! Batali really knows pasta - even at his "lower eschalon" locales. Very good cheek meat peppered throughout the dish. Wonderful. All of these pastas were a full notch above anything you will get at
I Trulli. I'm not bashing I Trulli just to bash them, but let's just say my expectations for I Trulli were higher upon (each) visit (its just around the corner from me) and my expectations of Otto were less, with greater results. Excellent pasta.


Gorgonzola Dolce, Cow LOM
Pecorino di Fossa, Sheep EMI
Brillo di Treviso, Cow, VEN

A mistake in the cheese ordering gave us an extra brillo di treviso. All right! A staff member brought out 3 mason jars each filled with an accompaniment to the cheeses. They were: Apricot Marmalade (?)

Black Cherries w/sauce
Honey with black truffles
Goodness me. This was wonderful. The gorgonzola and black cherries was the way to do it. The pecorino and apricot and the brillo di treviso went great with the honey and black truffles. Wow. Yum. Wow.


Olive Oil Gelato, Blood Orange & Pomegranate, Capezzana Olive Oil & Maldon Salt

We didn't share our desserts and thank god for that. The above mentioned dessert was wonderful. The only criticism I have is that it was a very "spring-like" dish for me. Granted, pomegranates and blood oranges aren't in season come April/May/June, but this tasted like Easter to me...if that makes any sense. A wonderful dish. The olive oil gelato was delish. It started off quite salty, but really developed as it warmed up and as you got closer to the end. Yum.



I guess this was an espresso of sorts. I was naive and thought it'd be something else. Good though.


The sommelier was helpful and spot on. Unfortunately I don't remember what was ordered. The waitress was good but not stellar. It was very busy, so not so much her fault. The busboys and other staff were quite friendly too.

Mr. Batali actually showed up last night...he walked right in a minute or so after we did and beelined to the kitchen. Cool. The space is much larger than I thought it would be. Cozy, warm, a bit loud and jam packed...although not too crowded, surprisingly. Tonight would be an excellent night to go there...hmmm Enjoy the snow everyone.


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