Tipsy from July 4th weekend day-drinking and movie-hopping in Harvard Square? No? Well either way, a slice or three at OTTO Pizza will definitely hit the spot. I remembered the hype when this place opened but since I’m generally jaded when it comes to pizza (too many greasy, late-night catastrophes to count), I didn’t try it until after I had graduated and moved from Cambridge, naively swearing never to return to Harvard Square again. Maybe its better this way because after trying OTTO I may not have given any other now beloved hole-in-the-wall restaurant a chance. This blog may have turned out to be a shrine to OTTO alone. And that wouldn’t have been too interesting, huh? Since that first time, I’ve been back and have tried pretty much everything on the menu. Here is what I have to say about it.
Creamy, smooth bundles of ricotta and slightly tart, very flavorful and thick patches of noticeably home-made tomato sauce scattered across a thin yet firm and crunchy crust. A bit of melted cheese here and there and a generous amount of dry basil sprinkled on top to give the slice and earthy tone. Simple, very satisfying.
2. Apple, Bacon and Red Onion Red Pie
A fantastic combination of flavors and textures. The crispy, salty, warm bacon counteracts the cool, tart freshness of the thin apple slices scattered over the pizza. The slivers of grilled red onion add a soft, sweet familiarity and comfort to each bite. The patches of tomato sauce, blending with the bits of velvety melted cheese are just enough to add another layer of flavor and nice, mushy texture while not in any way overpowering the three key ingredients. The crust is crispy and thin, yet holds up the toppings without getting soggy. A great complexity of flavors.
3. Pulled Pork and Mango White Pie
This is probably one of the most unique and satisfying slices of pizza I’ve ever had. Sticky sweet, perfectly ripe slivers of mango intertwined with thick, hearty rustic chunks of sweet-tangy-savory pulled pork. A thin layer of soft salty melted cheese. A perfect, crispy thin crust. A fantastic little triangle of palate-pleasing perfection.
Though one of OTTO’s cheesier creations, the wedge maintained a the crisp and by no means greasy quality which characterizes their pies. A gooey layer of soft white cheese interrupted periodically by spatterings of ricotta, slightly toasted and golden on the outside while moist and creamy on the inside. Chewy, earthy roasted mushrooms blended beautifully with the cheese and were lifted to the peak of their flavor by the mixed dried herbs sprinkled on top.
5. Mushroom, roasted tomato and herb
Big moist patches of tangy tomato sauce and chewy mushrooms on that fantastic crust. Simple but delicious.
6. Mashed potato, bacon and scallion
Sharing a slice of this is generally not a good idea; doing so significantly threatened a friendship the other day. Crispy, salty bits of bacon dancing around fresh strands of scallion on a thin bed of creamy, buttery, obviously house-made mashed potato and only a very minimal amount of cheese. Although the mashed potato was a bit heavier than OTTO’s other toppings, the thin yet incredibly firm and crisp crust held it up very well. This is definitely one of the most comforting pizzas I’ve ever had; a blend of flavors identical to that of a baked potato but with a far more interesting textural contrast than the latter. Definitely worth NOT sharing this one.
Giant but thin rounds of ripe, juicy tomato slightly roasted, stuck in a bed of gooey cheese with bits of dry basil sprinkled over the top. The simplicity of the toppings allowed the crunchy, thin perfectly cooked crust to shine through.
8. White bean, sausage, herb and red flakes
Slightly oily, salty, smoky Italian sausage cut both the texture and the flavor of the starchy white bean and cheese underneath perfectly.
Yet another very creative, unique way to apply salty, tangy cheese to a pizza: packing a wonderfully creamy 3-cheese spread into soft, plump, bite-sized tortellini and scattering these over the very thin surface of mozzarella already present. The textural contrast between the crispy, brittle, just-oily-enough crust and these soft, chewy pockets of smooth cheese was fantastic and made each bite interesting. Dried herbs sprinkled over the top interrupted the smooth flavor of the cheese and added a great depth of flavor.
10. White bean, roasted tomato, herb and red flake
Moist patches of tart, slightly pureed roasted tomato contrasted beautifully with creamy, smooth, starchy bumps of white bean peaking out from a bed of smooth, salty cheese. These ingredients almost seemed to be painted on the crisp bark-like crust canvas. The bit of dried herb and red pepper flake added a depth of flavor but were actually not really necessary at all considering the other great flavors going on in this slice.
Perfectly ripe slivers of mango intertwined with tender strips of chicken breast and a hefty portion of dried herbs sprinkled over the top. A fantastically filling pizza with refreshing flavors.
2 thoughts on “11 Slices at OTTO Pizza in Harvard Square”
Thank you very much for your review. I eat these slices everyday yet was still watering at the mouth over your description of our slices. Well done and much appreciated!
Wow, thanks for the review! Great photos, too! We’re opening a new shop in Brookline, in Coolidge Corner, in May 2012. Perhaps we’ll see you there if you get over to that neck of the woods …