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Manhattan: Otto Pizzeria

1 Fifth Avenue , Phone: 212-995-9559

Reviewed by: Kim from NJ, review #4112

When: 2013

A family favorite where everyone can find something good to eat.

Directions: Corner of 8th Street and Fifth Avenue (on the east side of Fifth)

Linguine with Cavolo and Speck, photo by Kim

I'm not embarrassed to say the Otto Enoteca is one of our go-to restaurants in NYC. It was one of the first "nice" restaurants that we could take our picky child to where she was happy to order a "plain" pizza while we enjoyed either a fancy pizza or pasta. So although our now almost adult picky eater gave us "permission" to go to a different restaurant on our recent excursion into the City for our annual visit to the Christmas markets, it's pretty much become tradition to have lunch at Otto after shopping, so we returned.

As always the food was good though they replaced our favorite pizza, the expensive one that had egg, guanciale and black truffle (at $36) with the now astronomically priced pizza with egg and shaved white truffle (at $78), so we opted for pasta instead. Couldn't beat the price at $10-$11 for a plate and I enjoyed the daily special of linguine with cavolo (cabbage) and speck, while Chris enjoyed his Bucatini Alla Gricia; Sammi had the four-cheese pizza (with plenty leftover to bring home for dinner that night).

The wine list is always good for a look and we opted for a favorite of ours, the Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino at a $58 (about double what I've seen it for retail). One note on the wine, we both thought it was a bit warm. It's a pet peeve of ours when restaurants serve wine warm (i.e., if you keep your restaurant set to 76F, that doesn't mean the wine should be served at that temp). It's kind of a shame too because they do have a really interesting wine list to make that type of mistake.

We skipped dessert as they didn't have my favorite salted peanut gelato and opted for two espressi instead (plus we knew we'd be visiting Molly's Cupcakes on the way back to our car). If it weren't for the wine, this would have been a very reasonable sit-down lunch in the city. I'm pretty sure we'll return next year.

Reviewed by: Kim from NJ, review #3789

When: 2011

It's not bad, but we go for one reason, the incredibly expensive, incredibly delicious pizza with egg, guanciale and truffles!

Directions: The address is 5th avenue but it's at the corner of 5th avenue and east 8th street and the entrance is actually on 8th street.

Truffle, Guanciale and Egg Pizza, photo by Kim

Otto, another restaurant in the Mario Batali empire, serves pretty good pasta, and very good thin crust pizzas like you find in Italy. It's one of the places I liked to take my kids when they were younger (and they still enjoy visiting) because it had plenty of options to satisfy their picky palates as well as keep the adults happy. As I said though we return for their egg, guanciale and truffle pizza which has never been added to the menu but for the last six months has always been a special. It's crazy pricy though at $35 while their other pizzas range from $9 - $14. Without any antipasti, one pizza is definitely enough for one person, smaller appetites could share. If you have any antipasti, two people could share.

That's what we did when we visited in September, enjoying three antipasti of caponata, mixed mushrooms and spicy rabe (this one was just okay but the other two were delicious) followed by the aforementioned truffle pizza. This with a glass of wine (their pours, by the way, are more like a serving and a half but that glass of wine will probably be in the teens), a diet coke (someone was recovering for the previous evening) and a post-meal macchiato and the bill came to about $76.

Be warned though, when they first opened, we had a small Slow Travel get together there for the moderators on a Friday night. We dubbed it the loudest restaurant ever. I've since returned in the evenings (on a Saturday with a 9:30 pm reservation) and it was still loud and perhaps a bit quick on the service. While my husband enjoys the boisterous vibe at night more, I prefer going for lunch when it's not crowded and you can linger over your wine, dessert, or coffee in an easy to talk atmosphere.

Oh, and their house-made gelato is pretty good - if they have the salted peanut on the menu, try it; it's my favorite!

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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