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For a Meal I Didn't Even Know I Needed: "Tre Otto"

Did you ever have a terribly exhausting, stressful day where it felt like a bad day even though nothing really awful happened? Such was my mood before I came upon my refuge one night. I was beyond tired and stressed, thus had a migraine, was starving and over everything for the day. But I made one smart decision that managed to turn my night around. I decided to stop, take a break from what was swirling around in my mind, and eat like a human. I was going to a restaurant instead of racing home and ordering takeout that I didn’t feel like eating. This was a brilliant move because I landed at Tre Otto for the very first time.

Tre Otto was founded in 2009 by Louis and Lauren Cangiano whose family has been selling Italian (Sicilian) food in New York City since 1919. The Cangiano’s sought to create a “restaurant that felt warm and welcoming - an extension of their own home - where the food was superb and where the atmosphere was magical.” A more perfect description you will not find.

When I walked into Tre Otto I was dreary but then became renewed by the atmosphere. This medium sized restaurant had people continuously going in and out but the noise volume was suitable for conversation. It had dim lighting although it was not dark. The heat was probably on but it did not create a steam room. I felt excitement when I opened the menu while breathing in the aromas all around me. I ordered right away.

For my appetizer, I went with what I was craving most which was the appropriately named crispy calamari. It came out in a flash. The crunch was unreal and the fish (it’s octopus) was light, non-greasy, non-chewy which is what you seek in this dish. I simply could not get it down my gullet fast enough. I found myself even eating the tentacle parts that I normally do not care for but here they were divine.

Coincidently I noticed they have meatballs on their appetizer list too which made me think of aMano, a restaurant I recently reviewed ( Now I am wondering how good they were. I will find out for sure during my next visit.

There is only one other place where the calamari was this delicious; coincidently that restaurant is also in the same neighborhood. As a frequent visitor to the 92Y I have occasion to eat on the Upper East Side fairly often. It was a burger joint on Lexington Avenue where the calamari was so good “I had to” eat a whole plate as my meal. That too was quite a successful dining experience.

My Caesar salad was made the usual way but it looked as good as it tasted. Presentation is so very important but so is the quality of the ingredients. It is amazing to me how often you can eat a dish like this and how very different it can taste from place to place. Needless to say, Tre Otto has this down pat. The fresh crispy lettuce, the tangy dressing was just right, alongside the freshly shaved Parmesan cheese and baked croutons put it over the top. Despite how full I was getting there wasn’t a drop of anything left on this dish. I was delusional thinking I could put some on the side for the next day.

Finally the pièce de résistance, my four-cheese pizza. Wow how I loved it. I know it is not shocking, considering how much I love pizza that I have had four cheese pizzas before and I suppose will again although I fear they will not rate this high. This four-cheese pizza was perfection; the cheese wasn’t too rich or too heavy. I think they used witched craft to make it and I am okay with that. Whatever they did back there in the kitchen, it was pure magic plain and simple.

If it’s possible this pizza tasted even better the next day when I warmed it up for lunch.

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