NYC: The Origin of Spaghetti and Meatballs at Otto
In fact we were just there last night for a late dinner. Breaking from our usual combo of salad + pasta, we decided to do pasta + all the seafood dishes. It’s $8 each seafood dish, or $21 for the whole set of five (a really good deal).
Clockwise from bottom center: Anchovies and Breadcrumbs; Mussels, Peperonata, and Mint; Shrimp, Ceci, and Chiles; Calamari and Potatoes; Octopus, Celery, and Lovage.
We were about to order our usual pasta, the Taccozette con Stracotto, when Frank leaned over the bar and casually mentioned that they were serving FRESH PASTA. !!! A truly humongous deal because Otto does not serve fresh pasta. EVER. And this wasn’t ordinary fresh pasta, but stuffed pastas. We’re talking Agnolotti with Goat Cheese and Ravioli with Tomato and Basil! Can you imagine how excited I was? AHHHHHH!!!!!!! One of each, yes please.
But then I remembered it was Chinese New Years Eve. Tradition dictates that you must eat noodles on the eve for longevity. Short and fat pastas do not qualify. Not tonight. Sigh. I was about to settle on Carbonara when I spotted a nearby diner with an unfamiliar dish.
If there’s one thing I know thoroughly, it’s the Otto menu. I looked again. Spaghetti. Tomato Sauce. Were those meatballs? Definitely not on the menu. Not a weekly special.
What the heck was it?!
Dennis caught my eye and nodded with a smile, “Spaghetti and Meatballs.”
“Is it a special? I haven’t seen that before!” I was completely befuddled. Loss of balance. Everything. You name it.
He explained that it was a dish born out of the Wednesday Meatball Pizza Special. You see, Otto serves a special Pizza (and Bruschetta) each day of the week. And Wednesday is Meatball Pizza. One day a customer asked if they would put the meatballs on pasta instead of pizza for him. And tadaahhh, tradition was born. And that how Wednesday Spaghetti and Meatballs came to be. Awesome, right? It’s not advertised on the menu, so you just have to know. Slide up to the bar, “spaghetti and meatballs please.” With a wink of course. How smoooth! heee.
Just make sure to do it on Wednesdays, otherwise you’ll look like an idiot.