I don’t eat a lot of pizza, but I crave it often. In New York City, there is a pizza place practically on every block. I’ve been to many of the well known, highly rated pizza joints but have not yet found the one favorite place. There are a few places that I think could be the one, but I feel like I have to check out a few more contenders before I can be sure. It’s so easy to eat pizza here because many places sell them by the slice, but for me, I like to share a big pie and enjoy it with someone else. To me, pizza is a group oriented activity. When I think of sleepovers, study groups, and pool parties, pizza is always there. Maybe that’s why I don’t like getting a slice by myself. It makes me feel a little bit lonely.
A few days ago, a couple of my old friends and I had a mini reunion. Some of them just recently moved to New York and others were visiting. It was a really great opportunity to catch up and a good group to enjoy pizza with. There were hundreds of pizza joints to choose from, but I decided to go with Otto Enoteca Pizzeria in Greenwich Village. I have long been a fan of Mario Batali’s and love his restaurant Lupa. But, I think my expectations were a little too high.
From the beginning, something was a little off. Our waiter was very unfriendly and rather grumpy. I’m usually not one to be really critical of the wait staff because I know, from personal experience, how hard it is to be a server. But that night, everything was very unpleasant. Our waiter was very impatient with us as we ordered. He never checked up on us after our food arrived, even though he walked by our table over a dozen times. Our cups were empty the entire meal and we all felt like he was purposely ignoring us when we tried to call him. Anyhow, it wouldn’t be fair to say that the entire restaurant’s service was horrible, but this guy did not represent very well.
Aside from the waiter, there were hits and misses with our dishes. We ordered three appetizers, the Heirloom Caprese, Summer Squash and Pecorino, and a White Bean Bruschetta. The heirloom tomatoes were my favorite. It was refreshing with just the right amount of olive oil and fresh mozzarella. Many of my friends really enjoyed the summer squash. The saltiness of the cheese and the soft flavor of the squash paired very well together. We all agreed that the bruschetta was our least favorite. The bread was a very nice and rustic but it was overwhelmed by the overly heavy and salty pureed white beans. The waiter suggested that one to us. Maybe it’s confirmation that he truly didn’t like us.
For our pizzas we ordered the Margherita D.O.P., Funghi and Taleggio, and the Quattro Stagioni. The Margherita was too sweet. It’s hard to go wrong with such a simple pizza, but it did. The popular topping of mushrooms was a disappointment. It was heavy and too salty. However, we all enjoyed the Quattro Stagioni. It was topped with tomato, mozzarella, swiss chard, mushroom, cotto, and peppers. I think the vegetables really evened out the strong flavors of the cheese and tied the whole pie together. None of us are vegetarian, but looking back, our whole meal ended up not having any meat. Maybe some carne would’ve produced more likes than dislikes.
At the end of the meal we all agreed that Otto wasn’t in the running to win the title of “Best Pizzeria.” I’m a little disappointed with Mario Batali, but I guess when you have so many restaurants you can’t win them all. My friends and I didn’t even look at the dessert menu. We walked south towards Bleecker Street and ended up at Cones, an amazing gelato place. It’s right next to the famous John’s Pizzeria. None of us said it out loud, but I know we were all thinking, we should’ve just gone there.