FACT’s Ally Mac escapes the summer heat to try out the newest Italian cuisine haven in Hamala Hills. Welcome to Otto…
A well-known Italian chef once said: “The sign of a good restaurant is when it takes you ages to decide what to have” – something you will most certainly relate to when you dine at the rather lovely Otto in Hamala Hills. From the moment we walked into Otto, we were treated like an old friend. The restaurant creates a feeling of rustic Italian charm, with a contemporary, edgy vibe. The interior has big, light inviting windows, which achieves a great natural airy ambience throughout the venue. There’s an original Neapolitan ‘wood-fired pizza oven’ roaring away and even a full-fledges ice cream trolley outside. We were invited to taste a selection of dishes and get a flavour of what Otto is all about.
To start off, a cold-pressed green juice cleansed our palates (and tummies) for what was set to be a culinary feast. We went straight for The Full Italian – toasted altamura and sour dough bread slices, baked ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, gruyere cheese, scrambled egg, rocket, cherry tomato and ribbons of bresaola. A platter of big, bold flavours here which was outrageously tasty. It’s an excellent sharing option for a leisurely breakfast at Otto. We then sampled Fritto Misto – crispy fried calamari, prawns and courgettes served with the creamiest garlic-saffron aioli. This was the best calamari we’ve eaten in a long while! Each bite was so wonderfully fresh and so distinctively Mediterranean.
Mozzarella In Carrozza was up next; buffalo mozzarella and basil stuffed bread, fried and served with plum tomato sauce.A seriously vibrant juicy bowl of layers, we tucked into fresh chunks of tomato piled with mozzarella and bread.This is one of those hearty dishes that transports you to an Italian mama’s kitchen! Homemade feels and nostalgia at its finest I often think it’s hard to make a pasta dish look elegant, but Otto pulled off the Pasta Alfredo, superbly.The traditional recipe from Rome with butter, parmesan and mushroom was cooked just right; the pasta retained a slight bite,just the way we like it. The pasta was made the way it should be – just a light amount of cream binding the dish together without leaving a pool on the plate. Delicious helpings of mushroom and parmesan topped it off. Onto the main show: wood-fired pizza! We tried a the Fresca with roast cherry tomato, burrata cheese, and beef breasola; the Tartufo packed with mozzarella, black truffle, porcini mushrooms, rocket, parmesan shavings, and truffle oil; and the Pollo topped with mozzarella fior di latte, smoked chicken, rocket, and basil pesto. A thin base is always a must for us. We’re not huge fans of the deep pan and, luckily, neither is Otto.
The pizza base had a great stone-baked flavour. Italian favourites clearly mastered! Our favourite… the Tartufo! The grand finale was an incredibly tasty Nutella Calzone, crispy fried pizza dough filled with Nutella. Need we say more? It was totally irresistible! Of course, we couldn’t help but take a little trip to the ice cream trolley where everything from pistachio to vanilla, gianduja chocolate and other yummy flavours awaited. We especially loved the silver service bowls – a beautiful authentic touch to end the meal. The team at Otto clearly knows what they’re doing – serving up authentic Italian comfort food of the highest order. The warm welcome at the door and the unmatched hospitality throughout make you feel happily at home with plates of the most incredible Italian food. We predict big things, this place is definitely going to thrive. Arrivederci Otto!
GO: VISIT OTTO AT HAMALA HILLS. OPEN FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER. CALL 1733 6622 FOR MORE INFORMATION