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more (bad) news about OTTO (long review)

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more (bad) news about OTTO (long review)

k9 | Jan 24, 2003 10:39 AM

too bad i didn't read the posts before i went to OTTO last night. my experience was wholly the same as other reviewers--in a word, disappointing.
i arrived with two friends at 6 pm (thursday) and we didn't have to wait at all. the seats directly at the bar were full, and about 35% of the tables were full at that time. we were taken on a rather circuitious route to our table, so we could admire the room, i suppose. the room was very nice, nice color scheme BUT i was sort of expecting some kind of convivial air at this new "family" restaurant. not happening; it was pretty quiet. we were seated and shortly thereafter a pair of slices of bread were dropped off, wrapped in wax paper. it seemed odd to say the least; both the presentation and the stinginess of the two slices just didn't really bode well. we all agreed that the menu design itself was slightly confusing/distracting, but then the server came to "explain" the way things work. i really don't like this--it seems to me that a restaurant is the sort of animal one should be able to figure out--and in hindsight, that introduction signalled what may be the restaurant's biggest problem--it's self importance and inability to reconcile its fancy backing with its lowbrow existence. they can't seem to make up their minds about who/what they are. in any event, she described the specials and we ordered a 30$ bottle of chianti (nice) and the fritto of the day, which was fried pizza dough w/ parmesan and hot peppers. it was good, in the way that funnel cake is good--hard to mess up dough, cheese, oil, salt, etc. one of my friends asked the waitress if there were any sauces and she delivered a condescending "no." now i can understand chefs not wanting diners to mess with their food, but this is pizza/fried dough for christ's sake. we ordered the octopus (the fish was a bit overpowering and the sauce fairly average), the beans (awfully below average), pizza margherita (hard to mess the toppings, but the crust was borderline), and the lardo (interesting flavor to the fat back--sort of like nutmeg-y bacon, same crust problem) and the 12$ selection of gelatos, which appallingly came in a small cup (i.e., three scoops the size of one). on the pizza crust--i found it to be just like a half of a slice of pita toasted. my friend described it as a tortilla. not only was the texture off, but it had no real taste, which made the lardo pizza really quite boring--my friend asked for some sauce on the side, the waitress left, and returned to say "we really can't do that." again, it's just not that sort of place. on the gelatos, they were good, but cones in the w. village makes better gelato and they don't gouge you. by the end of the meal, the server was really pushing the cappuccino, cheese plate, and more dessert--as if the $130 we'd just plunked down for a below average meal wasn't enough.
the service was fine, besides the sauce incidents (not her fault), though the people next to us were freaking out about being overly serviced. the place did, however, feel like it was absolutely SWARMING with staff, which always gives me a fishbowl feeling.
the wine list was fine and extensive, though i am just not sure why someone would go to OTTO to enjoy an expensive bottle of wine with lousy pizza...
the turnover was also quite rapid--by the time we left, at about 7:30 (?) the place was packed, including the entire front room.
what are the chances that this place will make it? i won't return--you can find me at lombardi's or, even better, joe's.

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