The OTTO Story

OTTO Pizza owners Mike Keon (L) and Anthony Allen with Portland Mayor Mike Brennan.

The story of OTTO Pizza is the story of two men, Anthony Allen and Mike Keon, from startling different culinary backgrounds and experience, united by a singular vision: the notion that pizza is serious food with the potential to transcend its reputation as mere take-out chow by re-imagining the possibilities that exist beyond red sauce and mozzeralla.

A native of Nantucket, Mass., Allen founded his first pizza shop there at the age of 17; he skillfully modeled Anthony’s Pizza on an Italian port-side shop, and attracted droves of tourists. During the next decade of summers, his pizza reigned at the gateway of the island, and based on this success he expanded to Martha’s Vineyard.

Keon, on the other hand, followed his life-long interest in cooking out to sea, where he worked in the galleys on fishing boats plying the waters around the Aleutian Islands and mainland Alaska for more than12 years. Keeping a hungry fishing crew from quickly becoming bored with the same-old, same-old is no easy task and Mike’s ability to keep a steady stream of inventive and satisfying dishes flowing out of the galley was well honed thanks to perseverance, expert planning and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Anthony and Mike met years ago as the owners of separate establishments that happened to be located near to one another in a small town north of Boston. During their downtime, they’d swap stories about where their culinary adventures had taken them through the years.

Anthony, for example, told Mike about the time he built a pizza oven from a scavenged 55-gallon oil drum and taught the locals in Tanzania how to stretch dough and make a pie, and Mike regaled Anthony with tales of life at sea, like the time he tried to cook Thanksgiving dinner on a fishing boat off the coast of Alaska in the middle of a violent storm. At one point, Mike said, the boat lurched hard and the oven door flew open. The roasting pan and turkey, “shot out like a bobsled. Chasing that half-cooked, fat-slathered bird around the galley, trying to capturing the slippery thing and return it to the oven before going back on deck … it was just another day at sea.”

Eventually, they hit on the idea that they should try something together, and pizza seemed to offer the perfect opportunity to unite Anthony’s decades of experience, Mike’s penchant for putting together ingredients that aren’t necessarily obvious choices and their shared vision of taking something considered commonplace and playing with the creative possibilities.

So they formed a partnership — and OTTO Pizza was born in Portland, Maine, in June 2009.

Asked what it is they love about pizza, both Mike and Anthony agree that the answer lies in its simplicity; that it is gratifying, represents real food and that, ultimately, less is more. This aesthetic reigns large at Otto.

Both Anthony and Mike are quick to acknowledge that it takes more than a good idea to turn out extraordinary food. It takes teamwork, and Mike and Anthony have sought out the best people to join their team. Each member shares their vision of consistently well-executed, uncomplicated food.

We hope you enjoy it.

13 thoughts on “The OTTO Story

  1. I can’t find Otto’s menu and I seemingly have been all over the website?? I can’t find how to reach anyone either? Is there another website? I am not new to the internet… 🙂

  2. Anthony, I’m a close friend of your mom Martha. I have lost touch with her.please contact me as I’m worried about her. Don Eaton. 603.851.8017

  3. Hello Mike and Anthony,

    My name is Doug Jones I’m at the service contractor in Connecticut and I’ve been in business for 34 years serving customers with our services. I would love to talk to you guys about possibly starting in Auto pizza place in Madison Connecticut where I grew up. I have over 8000 customers in my town and surrounding towns. I have a very calm easy way with my customers. I think if I started hey hip place there would be endless possibilities. A lot of people say that I’m like the mayor in town, meaning I know everybody. I’ve always wanted to start a place like this I thought about sushi burger kind a like the Lola41 one and Nantucket , Or like an auto pizza in Chester Connecticut. I’m looking to start a small place with fresh food, and a quick results. I went into Otto pizza in Chester , And I was so impressed with how I walked in order the pizza and I was out the door within six minutes. That to me as convenience and extraordinarily quick service. I would love to talk to you guys on the possibility of starting in the otto pizza joint. We could talk about what other businesses I have and what success I have with them. Please feel free to email me anytime at

    Thank you so much for your time,
    Doug Jones

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  5. my name is otto moellering
    in sanantonio texas i like pizza
    no otto pizza in sanatorio texas 78201
    hi mike good name otto pizza bust man

    • I am so disgusted with Otto right now. First my pizza was missing the most important item, ricotta. Then they labeled the two other pizzas wrong which were going two different places. I’m glad I checked. I understand mistakes happen. But the reason I am really upset is the way we were treated when sitting at the bar in an empty restaurant talking to the gentleman who served us an adult drinks while we waited on our pizza. My nephew was with me and says a few too many cuss words. Which I don’t particularly like but I also know when I mention the word God it makes people just as uncomfortable so I have been trying not to judge ANYONE. We were going to leave but the bartender kept talking to us. So we stayed and talked for a while. Just remember the restaurant was empty. If there were any kids in there I would’ve definitely checked my nephew on his language. But in the company of adults it’s not for me to tell him what to do. Adults know how to walk away or not listen to somebody else and they know when they hear something they don’t like that they don’t have to act that way or once again listen to that. So also let me say I worked in the restaurant business for 30 years and I’ve been around people who have talk to loud it cuss a lot. I simply have asked them to lower their voice. My nephew was told that he was making somebody uncomfortable that worked there. I felt that was a totally inappropriate way to handle his loud talking. Honestly the way the workers hair was made me uncomfortable, but he is free to style his hair however he wants. If the restaurant was full no one would have heard my nephew. AND another worker was actively engaging us in the conversation and said nothing as to how my nephew was speaking. I don’t get too upset about stuff especially with all the division in all world. And people trying to tell others that it’s their way or no way. So is it ok for me to tell someone that their kissing makes me uncomfortable. Or what they are wearing makes me uncomfortable. No I just don’t look at that person. They have a right to kiss and dress how they want. I do understand if someone is getting loud and possible mean to others around them. Once again ask them to lower their voice if they are mean then probably need to ask them to leave. The employee could have said that and simply walked away. He ( if that’s how he identifies) can also just not listen to him. One day will people tell me I can’t talk about God in public? Such an unpleasant experience. Otto please train your employees better to handle a variety of different people. If your employees think the world is going to cater to them
      They are sorely mistaken. What a shame.

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  7. I get your dedication to simplicity. BUT. A chocolate chip cookie and an olive, cheese bread plate is simple. I’d love both items. From your restaurant in Portland Oregon. ❤️

  8. I am so glad I found you!
    I love pizza. Oh how I miss the greasy Greek pizzas I ate when younger! I have struggled to find anything decent since I was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance over 10 years ago. I’ve tried many shops but felt I was eating cardboard with some sauce, cheese and toppings. Then I tried your gluten free crust.
    It’s not the chewy pillowy crust I used to enjoy, but that’s impossible to create without gluten. It does have a good bready flavor and some tooth to it. Yeah!
    I also love that you allow such customization. Old School Sauce! Fontina Cheese! You guys are the best.
    Peace, Susan

  9. Hi,
    I just stopped in to your South Portland location for a quick couple of slices, and thought you might appreciate some feedback regarding my (unfortunate) experience.

    I was heartened to see that the young woman at the front counter put on a pair of disposable gloves before placing my slices in the mini-oven to be heater. While waiting for them to warm up, I was completely appalled to see her wife her face, cough on her glove, and then readjust her pony tail while still wearing the gloves..! At that point (with gloves still on), she sprinkled some fresh greens on my slice, and then handed me my order. Needless to say, I was amused to see this statement listed as one of the ‘Essential Duties & Responsibilities’ on your website:
    “Comply with established sanitation standards, safety, personal hygiene and health standards”.

    I am a customer that doesn’t typically like to make waves, but I felt you should know this. More importantly, it might be a good opportunity for you to review health standards and customer expectations with your staff.

    Thanks for reading this, and please forward it along so it doesn’t continue to happen. This is SO very unfortunate, because I really like your pizza.

    Tony (South Portland Resident)

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