NYC Eats: Otto And Eataly

Several Fridays ago, I left work early and boarded a Bolt bus to NYC with my friend Kathleen to celebrate her bachelorette. We were staying with our friend Michelle, who lives on the Upper East Side, and while the other ladies who'd be joining the bachelorette festivities weren't due to show up until the following afternoon, the three of us wanted to take advantage of a nice dinner out in the city. It didn't take long to decide on Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, one of Mario Batali and Joe and Lidia Bastianich's restaurants.

With the timing of our bus and some snowy weather in the city, we didn't end up heading out to dinner until around 9:30. We put our names in for a table when we got to the restaurant and were handed a slip that resembled a train ticket with the destination of Capri. We gathered around a communal table and ordered drinks to pass the time while we waited for our table and watched the train board to see if it was ready. Every so often the train board would update with a new destination. It was such a fun way to let people know their tables were ready. I sipped a Sardinian iced tea while we waited.

By the time we were seated, we were all pretty hungry and ordered an array of items to share. We asked our waiter about a good bottle of wine, either a Barbera, a Montepulciano, or a Valpolicella. He asked what we wanted to spend, and I said that something in the $30 to $50 range would be good. He then recommended a $50 bottle of Barbera. My initial reaction was that he was trying to upsell us, but that changed when I tried the wine. He had described it as very acidic, not having much fruit, and very food friendly. It was all of those things, and we all loved it. (I wish I could find it around here.)


We started with the baby spinach salad with ricotta salata and truffled honey. I could smell truffle as soon as the plate was set down.

Baby spinach salad at Otto, NYC

From the antipasti menu, we ordered the cauliflower "alla Siciliana." The cauliflower was accompanied by olives and capers and flavored with lemon.

Cauliflower "alla Siciliana" at Otto, NYC

Then we got two pizzas, both with incredibly thin crusts. The mozzarella D.O.P. was covered with a sweet red sauce, adorned with pools of melted mozzarella, and garnished with basil.

Mozzarella DOP pizza at Otto, NYC

The balsamic onion and goat cheese pizza was a flavor-packed white pizza. It was salty and sweet and well balanced. It was fun to try both a red and a white pizza. We enjoyed the pies equally.

Balsamic onion and goat cheese pizza at Otto, NYC

While dinner was really, really good, dessert definitely stole the show. The olive oil coppetta was to. die. for! The base of it was a creamy olive oil gelato. Then there was a scoop of tangerine sorbet on top of that, along with some blood oranges and candied kumquats. Somehow no fights broke out, but we did finish every last bit of it. I'm already researching how to re-create it at home.

Olive oil coppetta at Otto, NYC

I'm also already getting excited that Mario Batali plans to open a pizzeria similar to Otto in the Seaport district. The latest I've heard is that it will be called Babbopizzeria. I cannot wait to check it out!

Otto Enoteca & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

The next day, we waited for some of the other girls to arrive and then we trekked over to Eataly. As soon as we walked in, I realized this place was made for me. There were little markets and restaurants everywhere. I so badly wanted to buy up all the fresh pasta in sight. I can't even imagine what my daily shopping adventures would be like if I lived nearby.

Since there were so many of us, it was hard to wander around for very long (I'll have to do that on another trip), and we set about finding somewhere to have lunch. We put our names in at La Pizza & La Pasta and then went upstairs to the rooftop beer garden, Birreria. Now on this particular day, it was about 18 degrees outside, but up in that beer garden, with its greenhouse-like glass ceiling, we were warmed through by the sun and completely forgot about the cold weather outside.

While there's plenty of beer in the beer garden, there's also plenty of wine. Barrels with taps line the whole length of the bar. So we each had a glass of wine (a nice, almost creamy Sauvignon Blanc with a lot of body) to pass the time while we waited for our lunch reservation, which really turned into an early dinner, since we didn't sit down until almost 4.

When we finally did sit down to eat and had prosecco in our glasses, I was nominated to place the order and just picked a variety of things off the menu for us to share. First up: the antipasto misto. This changes regularly and had a brussels sprout salad, roasted salsify, marinated peppers, and mixed olives when we were there.

Antipasto misto at Eataly, NYC

It was just the right thing to go with some charcuterie (salumi misti) and cheese (formaggi misti). I don't remember what meats and cheeses we had, but I do remember us loving them all and going back for more.

Charcuterie and cheese at Eataly, NYC

Charcuterie and cheese at Eataly, NYC

Even though a few of us had pizza the night before, we thought a couple of pizzas would be good for sharing and opted to try the manfredina and la stella (which was actually on the appetizer menu). The manfredina featured tomato sauce, mozzarella, house-made Italian sausages, basil, and ricotta. I loved how the sausage was all crumbled up so you got some in each bite of the rich pizza.

Manfredina pizza at Eataly, NYC

A touch on the lighter side, la stella was a sort of salad pizza. Slices of pizza brushed with tomato sauce and nicely seasoned came topped with cherry tomatoes, arugula, shaved Grana Padano, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil. I couldn't decide which pizza I enjoyed more.

La stella pizza at Eataly, NYC

La Pizza & Pasta @ Eataly on Urbanspoon

Otto and Eataly were both great stops on this weekend NYC trip, and I'm glad we fit in visits to both places. I can't wait for Mario Batali to bring his talents to Boston. If he could bring that Barbera too, I wouldn't complain!

Have you been to any Batali and Bastianich restaurants?