While I would feel awkward going into Otto to have just vegetable side dishes ($5 each) as my entree, I've been doing this as part of my takeout meals for years. Known primarily for pasta and pizza, Otto is really best for their vegetable sides—one of my favorite parts (excluding gelato) of the menu.
There are mainstays such as the Eggplant Caponata pictured above, perhaps my favorite in the city. It's served cool, and studded with plump currants and pine nuts. There's just enough red pepper flakes for a touch of heat, but nothing crazy. Cooked with a bit of tomato sauce, the softened eggplant meets a bit of thyme and garlic. It's hard not to love. Other classics include Cauliflower "alla Siciliana," and Roasted Red Peppers with Capers, meaty and great piled over a slice of bread, with an extra drizzle of olive oil and salt. On the sweeter side, Roasted Beets & Saba are always on the menu, while Figs Agrodolce appear seasonally on and off throughout the year. The seasonal ones come and go quickly, so if you spot them on the menu, go for it!
This includes, among many others, Summer Corn & Fregola and Fresh Peas and Pancetta. You get a whole bowl brimming with fresh peas, mixed with salty pancetta bits, a crazily good deal considering how much time and effort it would take to shell the peas alone. Two vegetables sides make a well-sized lunch. They usually include it, but make sure to double check that there's some of that hearty, crusty bread in your take-out order (sometimes I even ask for extra). After all, you need some carbs to pair with the vegetables!
About the author: Originally from Honolulu, Kathy YL Chan writes A Passion For Food, where she chronicles her eats and travels adventures between Hawai'i, New York and beyond. She firmly believes that there is always room for dessert.