I couldn't stay away from Otto for long. I needed more pasta. I needed more side dishes. I needed...corn.
Or rather, Kathy and Lauren told me I needed corn. Not just any corn; corn and fregola. That's corn with corn kernel-sized semolina flour-based pasta, which is somehow better than corn by itself.
Anchovies, breadcrumbs, and scallions was another favorite of mine. The breadcrumbs weren't breadcrumbs so much as not-so-dry croutons, not dry because they were soaked in olive oil. Olive oil sponges. Yes.
I've never had mussels as tender as the ones in the mussels, peperonata, and mint. Not that I'm a big fan of mussels, but if I were...oh hoho.
I am a fan of octopus when it's done well, like in the octopus, celery, and lovage dish. I must have grown up eating crappy octopus because it's only been within the past year that I found out that it doesn't have to taste like a rubber band. Rubber bands don't taste good. This octopus reminded me of the grilled octopus I had at Babbo—slightly sweet, tender, with this uniform fishball-like texture without the bounciness. No rubber band qualities. And it was better than at Babbo because it was hella cheaper. And now I know that octopus goes with celery.
Shrimp, chickpeas, and chiles. was another good combination.
Seppia con acetini (cuttlefish with pickled vegetables) was less enthralling. Mildly chewy. Not a good chewy. The elastic kind of chewy. It wasn't bad, just not my cup of tea.
And there were the figs agrodolce soaked in that sweet alcoholic stuff. If you like everything soaked in alcohol, this is for you.
There's reasoning behind this seafood-splosion: economically, it was the best way to go. Each seafood side costs $8, but all five is only $21. You could just go with the anchovies and the octopus—my two favorites—but for another $5 you can get another three excellent sides. Not a hard choice to make, especially when there are three people to split it between.
Although I'm not a big fan of ordering salads, the escarole and sunchoke salad was worth getting. Too much cheese for my taste, but lots of almond bits. DELICIOUS ALMOND BITS.
The caprese salad was unlike any other I had eaten before. It wasn't just mozzarella, tomato, and basil, but marinated tomato plops and a ball of fresh mozzarella smothered in pesto and topped with pine nuts. Drool. Drool away.
Why have I never had spaghetti alla carbonara before? It was awesomely rich with every thick strand coated in egg...mixed with pancetta, scallions, and black pepper.
Pasta alla norma, the best pasta dish I've ever had involving ricotta blops and eggplant.
TABLE (well, bar counter) OF FOOD, YEY.
No matter how much I eat at Otto, I can always polish off a cup of gelato. Olive oil is always in my three-flavor cup. It's the best flavor ever, along with being the richest and creamiest. Probably has something to do with all the oil squeezings. Let's take a closer look.
Mm, olive oil pool.
The other two flavors, peppermint chocolate chip and cantaloupe sorbet, tasted just how I hoped they would, but better. Peppermint chocolate chip was made with real peppermint, and you know how I like my herbal gelato. Cantaloupe was like eating the buttery smooth flesh of the ripest melon. A MAGICAL MELON. Made of non-fat butter.
Otto won my heart once more. As long as there's no world shortage of olive oil, I'll keep going back.