Saturday night (which was last night) my friend Jason and I went to dinner at Otto, Mario Batali’s pizza restaurant one block north of Washington Square Park.
I have to say that the technical aspect of our meal–meaning the reservation making–was really enjoyable. I called before we went and they had one table left at 6:15. I took it. Then when we showed up (about 30 minutes after making the reservation) there was this giant wait for parties of 2. (A 30-45 minute wait). Because of my reservation making we were seated right away. Woohoo!
Once at the table, the pseudo-waiter asked us if we wanted any wine. We did. He pushed the expensive stuff; we asked for something cheaper. He pointed to something semi-cheap. We said: Ok, two glasses. He said: Why not a bottle? It’s really a better value. We said ok. We were upsold. We accepted it.
We also asked if he could take our order, we were hungry. He said he wasn’t our waiter, but ok. I ordered a mushroom pizza. Jason ordered a butternut squash pasta. He left and a busboy brought bread wrapped in paper (like a gift–we had to unwrap it):
The bread was good. The wine was good. If we were Catholic, we may have transubstantiated. Instead, we talked. Then our food arrived.
Here’s my pizza:
Here’s Jason’s pasta:
I must say that these were both a bit disappointing. Since Babbo is my favorite restaurant in the world, I expected miracle pizza and pasta. Instead, my pizza was like an interesting experiment. The experiment goes: let’s see how little we can put on here so that it still tastes good. So basically it was bread, cheese and mushrooms and parsley on the top. It tasted very nice. The crust was nice. I wasn’t writing home about it.
Jason said he liked his pasta, but I knew he didn’t love it. In fact he stabbed at it very intermittently. I got to the point where I offered to trade half my pizza for half his pasta. He complied. I actually enjoyed his pasta–it was fresh-tasting and simple. Not spectacular though.
At this point, we were ready to write the evening off as just “ok.” Then the dessert menu came. Having eaten from the Otto Gelato cart in Washington Square Park, I knew what we had to do. I also knew that olive oil gelato (which I’d never had and sounded scary) was supposed to be far and away the best. So Jason and I chose 3 flavors: olive oil, pumpkin and ginger. Out it came:
Jason and I dipped our spoons in nervously. Olive oil gelato? What could this taste like?
I’M IN HEAVEN
We were oohing and ahhing so loudly that the two ladies sitting next to us who were also ordering gelato asked us what was so good. We told them olive oil gelato. They ordered it too. When it came they oohed and ahhed also. It was an ooh ahh festival.
What made it so great? It was sweet, it was creamy, it was sultry and–most importantly–there was salt in it. It was peculiar. It was head-scratchingly good. We devoured it in 45 seconds. We then ate somewhat less greedily the remaining pumpkin and ginger. That was good too. But it was no olive oil.
In conclusion, should you go to Otto: (1) make a reservation; (2) don’t overpay for wine; (3) choose a pizza or pasta but don’t expect to have your head blown; (4) order olive oil gelato. Have your head blown.