Santa Barbara Coastal News
Mario Batali's restaurant Otto blends old and new25 Jan 2013 10:44 AM
When celebrity chef Mario Batali decided to venture into the world of high-end pizzas, he made it clear from the start that he would go about the venture in a unique way. For months, he tried many different preparation techniques and ingredient combinations, slowly adjusting them until he was confident he had come up with something that would provide New Yorkers with the familiarity of pizza while simultaneously expanding their culinary horizons.
Eventually, the result was Otto, an entocea - wine cellar - and pizzeria that has become one of the city's most popular culinary destinations. The hours and hours of work Batali put into coming up with Otto's signature dish ultimately resulted in a unique "griddle-cooked" pizza that takes the traditional flavors of pizza ingredients and gives them a unique twist. The restaurant, which is located in Greenwich Village in close proximity to many Manhattan townhouses, has developed a following among the city's adventurous gourmands as a venue that artfully blends traditional Italian cooking with modern sensibilities.
According to William Grimes, food critic for The New York Times, the diverse menu - which features Italian classics like antipasti, rich pasta dishes and house-made gelati - makes Otto perfect for pleasing crowds with a wide range of tastes. More over, the extensive all-Italian wine list is filled with some of Batali's personal favorites, making the restaurant a as perfect a place for wine lovers as pizza lovers.
Like most of Batali's restaurants, Otto is as much about presentation and atmosphere as it is about the food. Although it is on the more casual end of the Batali empire, the restaurant features excellent service and a visually appealing style. Appetizers come in small, handmade ceramic bowls and the pizza comes to the table with a flourish from the wait staff.