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One Day, 7 pizzas

t
T.Clark May 18, 2011 11:17 AM

So I was in Portland on Monday /Tues for business and I got a request to bring home pizza for my Boy's Birthday. My Tuesday morning meeting ended at 11:00 so I walked over to Otto Pizza and ordered a cheese pizza to go. Twenty minutes later I was sitting in my car destroying a hot slice. It was great, crispy bubbled edge, excellent fresh tasting tomato sauce, perfect amount of crust to topping. I felt bad though, I can't show up at home with a slice missing, so I called Otto's other location just up Congress Street and ordered a sausage pizza and a potato bacon pizza to-go. 20 minutes later after circling the block 10 times a space opened up. I walked in, grabbed my pies and got back to the car. "DON'T Eat any" I said to myself but the smell was killing me so I gave in and had a slice of each. Soooo good! I decided to put all 3 partially eaten pies in the trunk so I wouldn't be tempted any further. Now I'm cruising 95 south and you know what? I can smell those pies even from my trunk, so I pull over at the N.H. liquor store and grab just one slice of the white pie. Slam goes the trunk. Wife calls and says some neighbors are coming over could I grab a couple extra pizzas. I'm feeling guilty about bringing home partial pizzas so I called Santarpio's new location on Route 1. I figured heck it's right on the way home no harm no foul. "Twenty Minutes" she says, perfect I'm almost exactly 20 minutes away. Pull in, wait 1 minute, grab my Tomato-cheese and sausage pies and moments later I'm eating a slice of cheese in their parking lot. It's terrible! No crust, absolutely soggy center. Boring sauce. Maybe the sausage one is better? Nope, that one sucked too. I put the 2 Santarpio's pies on the back seat as they will be no temptation. Hmmm, now I'm determined to bring home some good pizza so while I'm in the Santarpio's parking lot I call Regina's (on Thatcher St. only) and order 2 "well done" pizza's. 1 cheese, 1 roni. "25 minutes" he says, perfect timing. I circle Thatcher 5 times and knowing this will be useless I asked two teens if they'll run in and bring out my pizzas. Problem solved, $5 tip. A half a block later while illegally parked in front of an alleyway I sink into my first slice of Regina's. Not bad. Way too much uncooked flour on the cornichon made the pie bone dry, sauce and cheese are good, well done as requested. Roni was also heavy on the flour crust.

Now I'm on my way home with 7 partially eaten pizzas. I reflected on my pizza day and all I wanted was another slice of Otto's. Their crust is delicious, you don't want to stop eating it.

  1. k
    Kat Sep 11, 2011 03:22 PM

    Is this a brach of the same Otto that is in NYC?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kat
      t
      T.Clark Sep 11, 2011 04:12 PM

      No relation. NYC is Batali.

    2. muscles_marinara May 30, 2011 12:19 AM

      The pizza at the Harvard Square Otto is delicious, but I just wish there was a garlic component to the cheese pizza. AFAIC it's otherwise a perfect pie.

      1. d
        DPGood May 28, 2011 08:46 AM

        I have a suggestion: why not surprise everyone for dinner tonight. Just go out and get some good barbecued ribs somewhere. Your family, neighbors and friends will love them!

        I agree. Geat Post

        19 Replies
        1. re: DPGood
          t
          treb May 28, 2011 11:11 AM

          Please go to several places, taste on the way home and give us another outstanding report. Lastly, could you do a similar burger run, I trust your judgement.

          1. re: treb
            t
            T.Clark May 28, 2011 11:43 AM

            I've been toying with a 5 burgers in 5 hours idea.

            1. re: T.Clark
              opinionatedchef May 28, 2011 04:59 PM

              Great idea. You're a good writer! T, if you DO this, you might want to choose your pool from Rchudy's top burger strata, below. From what I've read of rich's many articulate reviews on his blog, choosing five w/in his top strata, 90+, will pretty much assure your working within the purview of excellence:

              http://www.bostonburgerblog.com/reviews/

              1. re: opinionatedchef
                c
                cambridgedoctpr May 29, 2011 10:10 AM

                ok, OPC; how does otto's stack up to the best in boston?

              2. re: T.Clark
                uhockey May 28, 2011 05:04 PM

                ...if you'd like, you can drive me around for 7 more pizzas when I'm in town. :-)

                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                1. re: uhockey
                  KWagle May 29, 2011 08:45 AM

                  How about 7 Sichuan dinners as well?

                  1. re: KWagle
                    c
                    cambridgedoctpr May 29, 2011 10:11 AM

                    a much better idea. i have trouble believing that there are 7 pizzas worth trying in the boston area.

                    1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                      t
                      T.Clark May 29, 2011 10:29 AM

                      My thought exactly.

                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                        Locutus May 29, 2011 11:27 AM

                        I hear ya. I can only think of 4

                        Regina
                        Santarpios
                        Bianchis
                        Stellas

                        1. re: Locutus
                          uhockey May 29, 2011 03:44 PM

                          The question, then, from an outsider - Is Santarpio's worth the trip to East Boston?

                          http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                          1. re: uhockey
                            t
                            T.Clark May 29, 2011 04:33 PM

                            Judging from your NYC pizza crawl that included DiFara, Motorino, Lucali, Roberta's and Paulie Gee's... My guess is you would be a little disappointed in a Boston Crawl.

                            1. re: T.Clark
                              uhockey May 29, 2011 05:01 PM

                              Not enough time for it - but considering Santarpio's and Regina despite not wanting a whole pie to myself. Figure Santarpio's is close to Rino and Regina close to Neptune. Trying to find a co-diner or two, and so far think I have a pair for Regina/Neptune.

                              http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                          2. re: Locutus
                            c
                            cambridgedoctpr May 29, 2011 05:25 PM

                            i would add Coppa; i really liked their pepe's pizza.

                            -----
                            Coppa
                            253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                            1. re: Locutus
                              StriperGuy May 29, 2011 06:26 PM

                              Add Sabatino's in Artlington.

                              -----
                              Sabatino's Restaurant
                              735 Broadway, Malden, MA 02148

                              1. re: Locutus
                                KWagle May 31, 2011 01:59 AM

                                I really enjoyed Sweet Tomatoes on many occasions in Newton Centre. I haven't been there since about '03 though.

                                I think if you want the Pizzeria Posto experience, you should get yourself a G3 Ferrari home pizza oven on eBay or Amazon instead. That thing really does make awesome Neapolitan style pies.

                              2. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                p
                                phatchris May 29, 2011 11:48 AM

                                Picco
                                Regina
                                Posto
                                Otto
                                Santarpios
                                Bianchis
                                Brown Jug
                                Flatbread

                                1. re: phatchris
                                  n
                                  newhound May 29, 2011 02:07 PM

                                  Emmas
                                  Armandos

                                  1. re: phatchris
                                    opinionatedchef May 29, 2011 10:06 PM

                                    VERY short list for me:
                                    Regina
                                    Otto
                                    Stonehearth Belmont
                                    Gran Gusto

                                    looks like i need to try Posto and Picco.

                                    -----
                                    Gran Gusto
                                    90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

                                    1. re: opinionatedchef
                                      p
                                      phatchris May 30, 2011 05:04 AM

                                      Picco has slowly become my favorite pizza in Boston.I forgot to add a great cheap slice at Umberto.

                      2. t
                        T.Clark May 27, 2011 09:53 PM

                        Wow thanks for the compliments. I'm surprised the keen eyes on this thread didn't notice that in the Santarpio's pic it shows that I was clearly going for my 2nd slice.

                        1. KWagle May 27, 2011 07:42 PM

                          It's unclear to me why you *wouldn't* be expected to eat a slice from each pie to insure its quality before bringing it home to your family and friends. :D

                          Well, aside from the idea that a pizza is worth eating more than five minutes after it's removed from the oven.

                          1. cannedmilkandfruitypebbles May 26, 2011 06:51 AM

                            As someone who will eat a slice of pizza every day if possible, I'm jealous of this trip...

                            1. StriperGuy May 23, 2011 07:49 AM

                              All I can say is.... uuuuuuuurp.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                s
                                southie_chick May 23, 2011 07:48 PM

                                T.Clarke, I nominate you for 'hound of the month (if not the year) for this feat! : )

                              2. opinionatedchef May 21, 2011 09:40 AM

                                right choo ah!! and much appreciation for the tip.

                                Very impressed with Otto's product yesterday. For me, pizza's almost all about the crust and the marinara, and both of these were top notch.The crust is thin, blistered, crunchy, chewy in all the right ways. The marinara is, as in Rome, just top quality canned Marzano tomatoes. Toppings were high quality and well proportioned (except for skimpy bacon and spinach.) While I like a bit more tomato sauce on my pizza, we both agreed that they probably apply it as they do (in dabs, like toppings; not a thin coating over the whole pie) because most of their biz is slice, and the slice needs to be easy to eat (not wet and floppy) while one is standing/walking. Especially noteworthy is their well balanced use of seasoning such that none of that was needed on any of the pies we had.

                                Their 4 cheese blend is very flavorful (though we renigged on the ricotta so it was really their three cheese blend) and in the future we will request it on all our pizzas. What a difference it makes! Their sweet Italian sausage was noteworthy and the tasty chicken and basil slice had chicken not as badly overcooked/dry as it can be elsewhere. The butternut squash, ricotta, cranberry pizza was a novelty but too sweet for us. We thought it would be improved if mushroooms or bacon replaced the fruit component( I mean, doesn't bacon improve everything?) Interesting that Otto's does not include peppers, chevre or anchovy as topping options (as of yet.)

                                Pleasant helpful chefs/servers. Very good experience. Just wish there were some nearby picnic tables. We're psyched and will return soon.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: opinionatedchef
                                  opinionatedchef May 26, 2011 08:43 PM

                                  went again yesterday. The 'pizza perfection solution' for us was to get extra tomato sauce on our pizzas, and three cheeses (asiago, mozzarella, fontina)on all our pizzas, and also caramelized onions instead of vidalia (they have caram. onions but they're not listed on the website). With these improvements, our pizzas were fabulOso. REALLY special crust.Crispy crunchy chewy.

                                  And Tyler and Craig are very nice guys.

                                  -----
                                  OTTO Pizza
                                  1432 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef
                                    opinionatedchef Sep 11, 2011 12:41 PM

                                    any recent updates on Otto?

                                    1. re: opinionatedchef
                                      c
                                      cambridgedoctpr Sep 11, 2011 01:53 PM

                                      hi, i wen to ottos and had a margarita (?sp) and liked it. Good and nice on a fall night in harvard square. There are nice places to sit and enjoy pizza.

                                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                        opinionatedchef Sep 11, 2011 09:13 PM

                                        We went back this aftnoon for an Ital sausage, vidalia onion and 3 cheeses; and a chicken and basil and 3 cheeses. Still has terrific terrific crust. But I think Stonehearth Belmont will remain our go-to, alot because of the toppings they offer that Otto does not: chevre, pesto, caramelized onions, red peppers, white bean puree, bacon......; and comfy seating and atmosphere.I hope Otto will expand their offerings, but still, locals are very lucky to have Otto in their midst.That crust.......:-}
                                        www.ottocambridge.com/

                                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                                          c
                                          cambridgedoctpr Sep 12, 2011 07:20 AM

                                          You can sit outside in front of Au Bon Pain. I frequently get take out from Tamarind Bay or get a pizza from Otto's and enjoy the scene.

                                          -----
                                          Tamarind Bay
                                          75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                            WineAG Sep 21, 2011 08:03 AM

                                            My first slice at Otto was vg about 2 months ago... but it struck me odd that all of the pies are displayed and then heated up. Most slice places cook pies and use them fresh, if possible, using cold pies as backups. Here, even if a pie comes right out of the oven, they just put it in the rack for later. When I inquired about this they said that since the pies are displayed on a slant, if it were put up there fresh the toppings would slide off. I realize that the space here is limited, but I don't like this idea. I think the quality suffers with this concept. I prefer fresh to heated up and have often waited for a fresh pie at places that had "a pie in the oven" rather than take a "warm up". Can't do that here.

                                            So it didn't surprise me that the slice on my recent visit was poor... topping tasted a bit off.... had that sitting around too long taste... really a shame.

                                            So, I won't be back to Otto for slices... will only go when I need a whole pie and can get it made to order.

                                            1. re: WineAG
                                              KWagle Sep 21, 2011 09:32 AM

                                              Antonio's in Amherst reheats their slices as well. This allows them to produce a much crisper crust than would otherwise be possible with their equipment (and which is hard even in an oven hacked to run at 900dF.) I personally don't think this hurts their quality--I'd rather have a crisper reheated slice than the typical slice from a typical commercial pizza oven, which don't generally come close to being hot enough to produce a crisp crust. The quality is good enough that they're on my short list of about a dozen pizza places in New York and New England I'm willing to pay to eat at---you get spoiled when you can make pizza in an 800dF or hotter oven whenevr you want. :-)

                                              1. re: KWagle
                                                Dave MP Sep 26, 2011 08:56 AM

                                                I was reminded of Antonio's when I ate at Otto in Harvard Square....and at Antonio's, the re-heating of slices works well. But I thought Otto wasn't as good as Antonio's - the crust wasn't as crisp, the slices were smaller, and the toppings seemed less generous (i.e. at Antonio's, if I order a slice with chicken, I feel like I end up eating a pretty generous piece of chicken, distributed over the entire slice).

                                                But I know what WineAG means about the "sitting around too long taste" at Otto, and I never get this at Antonio's. Maybe the oven for reheating at Otto isn't as hot?

                                                1. re: Dave MP
                                                  opinionatedchef Sep 26, 2011 11:28 AM

                                                  we only order whole pies but i do agree with you on the chintzy toppings at Otto -but not the crust. We decided last week that StoneHearth Belmont has pies with many more flavor dimensions (but Otto has the crispiest crust).

                                  2. uhockey May 19, 2011 05:43 AM

                                    Just did something similar in Brooklyn with 5 stops and a total of 8 different pizzas during a day - it was awesome. Wish I had time/a group to do this on my upcoming Boston trip.

                                    http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: uhockey
                                      t
                                      T.Clark May 19, 2011 05:49 AM

                                      I read your romp around Brooklyn piece. It may have inspired me in a subliminal way.

                                      1. re: uhockey
                                        opinionatedchef May 19, 2011 08:58 AM

                                        did you write it up, w/ photos i hope? i want to see :-)

                                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                                          t
                                          T.Clark May 19, 2011 09:32 AM

                                          UHockey did write it up on Chowhound and on his blog page which includes pictures.
                                          His posts are more polished than mine, I like reading his reviews.

                                          http://uhockey.blogspot.com/2011/03/d...

                                      2. opinionatedchef May 18, 2011 10:04 PM

                                        menu:

                                        http://ottoportland.com/menu.html

                                        what a fun read, and the photos help a lot. thanks so much!

                                        1. C. Hamster May 18, 2011 08:45 PM

                                          I agree. One of the best posts in a long time!!

                                          Almost made me turn off Top Chef and drive to HS.

                                          Almost. But I surely will try Otto's soon.

                                          1. t
                                            T.Clark May 18, 2011 01:16 PM

                                            Otto Sausage, Otto Potato, Santarpio's Mess, Regina Cheese, Regina Sausage. Sorry last 3 taken with phone cam.

                                             
                                             
                                             
                                             
                                             
                                            14 Replies
                                            1. re: T.Clark
                                              g
                                              Gordough May 18, 2011 02:41 PM

                                              Did the potato and bacon one taste as good as it looks? I am a sucker for any white pizza especially with bacon. I had a nice slice of a white pizza with short rib on it from the Crazy Dough in North Station last night before the Bruins game. It was pretty good and certainly far better than anything available inside the Garden although that is not saying much.

                                              1. re: Gordough
                                                t
                                                T.Clark May 18, 2011 03:41 PM

                                                No, It tasted better than it looks. The only knock I would give Otto is that the grains of cornmeal/semolina on the bottom were too large. Oddly enough they were similar to Santarpio's grains. Regina uses flour, and way way too much of it.

                                              2. re: T.Clark
                                                ipsofatso May 18, 2011 03:05 PM

                                                I nominate T. Clark for the first annual "Chowie" award for Best Post of 2011.!!!!!!!!!!

                                                1. re: ipsofatso
                                                  p
                                                  Pegmeister May 18, 2011 03:41 PM

                                                  I second that nomination, especially as I was just sitting here trying not to start on a slice from Carmines in Quincy, before DH had a chance to sit down with a glass of wine. I totally relate.

                                                  1. re: ipsofatso
                                                    n
                                                    natecsd May 18, 2011 05:06 PM

                                                    I third - I just ate dinner and now I want pizza... excellent adventure.

                                                    1. re: natecsd
                                                      s
                                                      Spike May 18, 2011 05:46 PM

                                                      ditto...now I'm going to have to visit Harvard Square :-P

                                                      If anyone tries it before me, please report back :-)

                                                      1. re: Spike
                                                        m
                                                        Mr Bigglesworth May 18, 2011 05:57 PM

                                                        Otto is hands down my new favorite place in town!!! The pulled pork and mango might even be as good as the potato and bacon pizza... So so good.

                                                        1. re: Spike
                                                          g
                                                          Gabatta May 18, 2011 05:58 PM

                                                          As reported in a previous thread I was underwhelmed by the HSQ location. I haven't been back despite it being within a 10 min walk of my home. I haven't been to the Portland location so I can't offer a comparison.

                                                          1. re: Gabatta
                                                            s
                                                            somerville01 May 18, 2011 08:38 PM

                                                            Wow thanks buddy. It's now 11:35 and I must have pizza. Nowhere decent open now!:). Curious about Santarpios. Love the Boston location.

                                                            1. re: somerville01
                                                              t
                                                              T.Clark May 18, 2011 09:21 PM

                                                              To be fair, I got take-out at their new location in Saugus. Maybe Santarpio's joins the ranks of 'Only on' status (Chelsea St.).

                                                              1. re: T.Clark
                                                                t
                                                                treb May 19, 2011 07:03 AM

                                                                That Santarpio's pic looked horrid, everything about it looked bad, IMO, they shouldn't have brought that out to you, not even to give it for free. I went to their new loc several times, about as bad as it gets.

                                                            2. re: Gabatta
                                                              b
                                                              bobbert May 23, 2011 07:15 AM

                                                              As

                                                              1. re: bobbert
                                                                b
                                                                bobbert May 23, 2011 07:36 AM

                                                                My smart phone is too smart for me so I'll start over. I average about 3 times a week at Otto in Portland - my biggest stretch was 6 days in a row. Last month while driving not-so-nearby, I decided to spin by Harvard Sq to compare. Made my wfe jump out of the car to pick up a few slices while I circled the block.
                                                                I can tell you that the pizza is exactly the same. Even the store is just like the original in Portland. I love the place for, not only the pizza, but the whole business model. First, they start with a great product. Then they basically make you take your slice and leave as there's no room to stay - this keeps the rent low. The prices: $3.00 per slice and $1.00 per drink - they don't even have to make change. On top of that, the vast majority of. customers (me included) believe $3 is a bargain but they are really selling pies at $24 each. How brillant is that? You really got to love the place. Did I mention they have a great product at a great price?

                                                        2. re: ipsofatso
                                                          GretchenS May 19, 2011 08:55 AM

                                                          My thoughts exactly as I read this. I just scandalized an entire surgical waiting room by snorting with laughter. Will now resume somber mood but boy this post did me good. This is why I love Chouwhound!

                                                      2. Bob Dobalina May 18, 2011 12:06 PM

                                                        My father used to chain-smoke cigarettes the way you are buying/eating pizzas!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                                          p
                                                          professor shorthair May 26, 2011 05:12 PM

                                                          My wife and I recently did a pizza taste off on Broadway in Somerville. Prima's versus Mama Lisa's.
                                                          Prima's won the cheese category due to the great sauce and Mamma Lisa's won the pepperoni category with dynamite roni.

                                                        2. t
                                                          treb May 18, 2011 11:54 AM

                                                          Curious, did your family members or guests question you about the sauce all over your face?

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: treb
                                                            t
                                                            T.Clark May 18, 2011 12:47 PM

                                                            It would not be out of the ordinary for me to have food on my face. I keep wet naps in the glovie, and I leave a raincoat on the back seat in case I get the urge to eat Lo-Main while stuck in traffic. I used the whole experience as an opportunity to teach my son about the 'pizza fairy' who steals a slice of pizza from children on their birthdays.

                                                          2. g
                                                            gourmaniac May 18, 2011 11:49 AM

                                                            I bow (or should I bow wow) to your chowhoundliness.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: gourmaniac
                                                              okra May 18, 2011 11:51 AM

                                                              y'know, I walked right past this place the other day @ lunch, line out the door, and wondered... now I'll get there earlier!

                                                              -----
                                                              OTTO Pizza
                                                              1432 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                              1. re: okra
                                                                opinionatedchef May 18, 2011 10:38 PM

                                                                photos of the setup (just take out) at Otto Pizza Harv Sq:

                                                                http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...

                                                                1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                                  t
                                                                  T.Clark May 19, 2011 04:57 AM

                                                                  Electric oven in Harv Sq? That's not promising.

                                                                  1. re: T.Clark
                                                                    opinionatedchef May 19, 2011 09:02 AM

                                                                    no, t, if you look below the write-up, the owner of Otto corrected the writer by saying that the Harv Sq ovens are gas.:

                                                                    "Thanks for checking us out we appreciate the biz. Our ovens though are gas fired not electric, could you make that correction on your site? Thanks, mike

                                                                    Mikeon at 11:31PM on 02/16/11 "

                                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                                      t
                                                                      T.Clark May 19, 2011 09:23 AM

                                                                      Whew!

                                                            2. yumyum May 18, 2011 11:48 AM

                                                              Loved this story, thanks!

                                                              I OFTEN have to put fantastic smelling things in the trunk. Try driving back from Manhattan with Katz's pastrami calling your name at every rest stop.

                                                              "Just one slice" ... that's how it always begins.

                                                              1. Small Plates May 18, 2011 11:22 AM

                                                                This is the best Chowhound post I have read in a long time! Next time in Portland, I am going to Otto's. You have made me crave pizza right now!!

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: Small Plates
                                                                  t
                                                                  T.Clark May 18, 2011 11:26 AM

                                                                  They just opened one in Harvard Square, I haven't been yet but I'd suggest giving them a try. I'm surprised there hasn't been more talk about them.

                                                                  1. re: Small Plates
                                                                    greenzebra May 18, 2011 11:28 AM

                                                                    Otto's recently opened a branch in Harvard Square, which is quite good.

                                                                    1. re: Small Plates
                                                                      digga May 18, 2011 06:29 PM

                                                                      Off Boston-topic, but we love grabbing a couple of slices and glasses of rustic red wine next door to Otto, at Enzo in Portland. Otto and Enzo share the kitchen. We need this in Boston.

                                                                      1. re: digga
                                                                        t
                                                                        T.Clark May 18, 2011 07:14 PM

                                                                        I did the same last summer. My Intro to Otto/Enzo. To continue the off topic, Micucci's serves a great Sicillian square, worth checking out.

                                                                        1. re: T.Clark
                                                                          t
                                                                          T.Clark May 19, 2011 05:46 AM

                                                                          How's this for timing.......
                                                                          http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...

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