Preconceptions: bad, aren’t they? You walk in expecting one thing and come out looking like a fool. So it was visiting Otto Pompieri. I’ll be frank, looking at the menu I made up my mind on the spot: “nah, don’t like it.” Why? Because I felt like I’d seen it all before – in 1998. Mainly comprised of pasta and pizza and a few things in between, first impressions cast me back to the kind of choice diners faced before the millennium: plain, mediocre and crushingly boring.
You see, the menu is not large, neither is it fancy: four ‘white’ pizzas, seven ‘red’. There’s the standard choice of pasta, some panini and then an ordinary selection of antipasta. As for soup, that’s a coin flip between either soup of the day or tomato. Put simply it didn’t promise much. Therefore, and I’ve brought this on myself, consider the rest of this piece a simpering apology of Clintonian contrition. I was wrong.
My second thoughts begin with the burrata di bufala DOP. Dense, puffy and oozing milk, this China white cheese comes deliciously surrounded by a ring of tomatoes of varying colors: if it looks fantastic, it eats even better. One hundred percent Italian ingredients I’m informed, and the results back this up.
Then, the pizza, and the bit that really forces me to beg forgiveness. Off-hand I can think of three or four pizzerias in Warsaw that really get it right, but Otto, this place gets it righter. If that’s not a word then apologies again, the thing is that’s exactly what it is. The artichoke pizza is an orgy of melty greatness, but it’s the margherita that’s the king.
There’s no better way to judge pizza performance than a straight-up margherita, and here’s it’s incredible: larger than the plate it’s served on, it’s the celestial experience I thought I’d never find – as for the prices, my God, it’s cheaper than the rubber pies you dial for on a Sunday night. At zł. 21 for 42 centimeters, the margherita offers the best value per sq/cm than anything I can think of.
What about the place itself? It looks every bit as delicious as it tastes. Set within the former, pre-war Hotel Saski, from the outside it shines amid the grind of Pl. Bankowy like a diamond in the rough.
Inside, it’s retro Little Italy – only new, polished, slick. From the open kitchen, the cooking brigade engage in banter and bravado while spinning dough in the air: there’s atmosphere in abundance. With mood and food in perfect alignment, it’s a place that resonates with good times and promise.
Pl. Bankowy 1