For many years now, I’ve often lamented the lack of my own Feast of the Seven Fishes. I’ve ogled and eyed, sighed and drooled over Otto’s until this year, I finally decided I was going to make a reservation before I even found someone to go with me! Serendipity, right? Right!
Then the Stallion stepped in and invited himself to join me. I was especially excited to have him join me as his own family does a Feast of Seven Fishes every.single.year for I don’t know how many years, and he even helps make the feast happen.
I initially had thought that the menu was too good to be true – $40 for 7 fish dishes?! – but it turned out… it WAS too good to be true. The $40/7 fish dishes constitute an appetizer – similar to my favorite Grande Pesci (if you click that link, you’ll see that I’ve been ogling the Otto menu since 2009, and have been ordering the Grande Pesci since then as well!), which is comprised of 5 delicious seafood tapas – so we quickly scrambled to figure out what else to order.
The above (copied straight from the menu; opinions mine):
Baccala “Panzanella” or salt cod, roasted peppers, tomato water, basil, bread crumbs, capers, chili flake – tasty enough, but not a stand-out
Scungilli “Alla Napoletana” or scungilli, celery, chili flake, red wine vinegar, lemon – chewy, as scungilli is meant to be
Ceci E Bottarga or toasted chick peas, bemis & james bottarga, lemon, chili flake – complete waste of bottarga; we could see it, could not taste it
Polpo Con Finochio or confit of octopus, fennel, tangerine, pistachio, agrumato – perfectly cooked octopus, tender, yum
Seppia Con Acetini or cuttlefish, otto pickles, olio verde – again, perfectly cooked and delicious
Fennel Cured Salmon with cucumber, red onion, capers – I liked this one a lot, a new take on the classic lox with red onion and capers
Marinated Anchovies & Potato or white anchovies, potato, marjoram, lemon – this was, hands down, my favorite of the batch; I LOVE the boquerones (white anchovies) in the other grande pesci, and missed them dearly, but this was good too – with potatoes! I really enjoyed this one.
Honestly, though I thought overall everything was very tasty, I would have just as soon had the Grande Pesci and been super happy. I missed my usuals – and really wanted to share them with Stallion, since I love them so much. But he seemed to enjoy what we had just fine.
Because I’ve been to Otto so many times over the years and this was his first time, I let the Stallion choose the pasta dish – and he went straight for one I don’t particularly like. Rigatoni with butternut squash – which is fine, if the pasta is, per usual, a little on the undercooked side (BEYOND al dente). The sweetness of the butternut squash plays nicely with the mild saltiness of the cheese, but overall, it isn’t a dish that wows me in the slightest – there are other pasta dishes that take care of that nicely.
Dessert! The Stallion chose the black& white, which I believe he enjoyed thoroughly. I wasn’t feeling too into sweets, so instead had the hazelnut hot chocolate, which came with a bit of shortbread on the side and was the perfect sweetness to end my meal.
While I won’t be clamoring to return next year for the Feast of the Seven Fishes, I certainly enjoyed Otto – and our excellent service – just the same as always, and will be back for my normal Grande Pesci, a pasta, a pizza, whatever strikes my fancy. Otto remains one of my favorite casual Italian joints in the city. I was happy to be able to share it with the Stallion.