It's been a while since I last dined at Otto, and I'd almost forgotten the Italian restaurant was around. It's moved from the starkly distinctive Red Dot Traffic Building, a little further down Maxwell Road, to the very white Maxwell Chambers.
It's still a chic, sophisticated space frequented by the movers and shakers of the CBD hinterland, usually with fat expense accounts in tow, and the brisk lunchtime business shows it. Lucky for us regular folk, there's the set lunch option, which remains affordably wallet-friendly ($38++). Service is still laggy, but since I've gone in-house, I'm no longer constrained by the 1 single lunch-hour limitation. (yay for cheap thrills in life)
A classic failsafe, the Insalata di Rucola, Pomodorini Pachino e Parmigiano, a green salad of arugula, pachino tomatoes, and shaved parmesan, was simplicity at its finest. Fresh crisp greens which peppery accents balance the tart juiciness of the tomatoes, were rounded off with lashings of parmesan cheese.
The Salmone di Scozia Affumicato con Mousse di Ceci e Bruschettina all Aglio, of luscious smoked Norwegian salmon was countered with a chickpea mousse and olive oil-garlic bread chips.
For the mains, the Caciucco alla Livornese, a Livorno-style stew brimming with sweet prawns, delicate scallops, flaky white fish, fat mussels, and springy squid, was sweet and sumptuous. A must-try.
A heartier main option, the Arista di Maiale al Latte con Purea di Patate all Aglio e Rosmarino, of milk-based kurobuta pork loin, was slathered with a nuanced pumpkin sauce and set on a bed of fluffy garlic rosemary-scented mash. A mellow, exquisite pairing.
For dessert, the Bunet all Astigiana con Salsa alla Pera, an Asti-style smooth custard-like amaretti cookie and chocolate flan served with pear sauce, was quite the popular hit.
Those preferring a lighter touch got the Chocolate and Macadamia Gelato, rich and creamy to finish off the delightful lunch.
And then there's those who prefer a really cleansing finisher, who ordered the Lime and Mango Sorbet, crisp and refreshing and tart.
The bread at Otto is a draw in itself, baked fresh, in-house, and served piping hot so its intoxicating fragrance hits you before you even bite into it. So so good.
32 Maxwell Road
Maxwell Chambers #01-02/03
Tel: 6227 6819
Open weekdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner;
Saturday from 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner only;
Closed on Sundays