About elshepherd

Marketing professional working and living in Portland, ME.

Ten Years of OTTO: Customers Tell Us About Their Favorite OTTO Experiences

As part of our 10 Year Anniversary celebrations in June, we asked customers to tell us about their favorite OTTO experiences. We received hundreds of lovely comments and decided to publish a handful here on the OTTO blog. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

When we started OTTO in 1992, we had a few simple goals: To elevate pizza above its ‘staple’ status, and to create moments worth sharing. It was sharing that got us where we are today — word of mouth from the people we served day in and day out.

Thanks to all our customers for ten great years. We wouldn’t be here without you. We look forward to helping to create ten more years of memories with you.

My best friend and I discovered OTTO on Congress several years ago. We’d often grab a late afternoon slice on our downtown walkabouts. Over the years, when one of us needed advice, a shoulder or a serious chat, we’d declare an OTTO. We could talk anything through over a slice. Though our friendship has moved apart over the years, I know if one of us declared an OTTO, the other would show up. — P. D.

When my husband was offered a job in Portland in 2017 and my family considered making the move here, from Brooklyn NY, a place that has some serious pizza game, we came on a visit and happened upon OTTO. The first pies we ordered, Mango and Pulled Pork and Eggplant Ricotta and Basil, we’re life changing experiences and totally made us feel like we could picture ourselves in this new city. The flavor! The crust! We are now OTTO’s most devoted fans! DiFara no more! John’s is gone! Every Friday is OTTO night! — Amanda S.

Dinnertime with my family can be a real challenge but bringing my three kids, (1 vegetarian, 1 pescatarian and 1 gluten sensitive) to OTTO and watching them devour their pizzas and buffalo fries is such a gift! At OTTO, everyone can find a delicious option to fit their dietary needs and it’s a relief for a mom like me that all of your ingredients are high quality! Thank You OTTO! — Carrie C.

When I moved to Boston from Portland and saw an OTTO in Brookline, I knew it was going to be ok. — Leigh M.

Last summer, when we ordered OTTO and it never even made it in to the house…we just sat on the steps and ate it there in the dark. — Kate S.

We’ve celebrated our now-11 year-old son’s birthday twice at OTTO because it is his happy place. Friends, family and potato, bacon and scallion pizza. We know it will be a good time. 🙂 — Melissa P.

We had our favorite Mushroom and Sausage pizza from OTTO and ate it on the beach on Plum Island moments before we got engaged! — Jennifer G.

We are from NYC, just moved to Portland and had a couple of Italian-American friends visit. We had low expectations of pizza in Maine. Ok, no expectations. But a fast delivery, that weird sheet that keeps the crust crispy, and the smell of real cheese made the crowd sit up straight. First taste? One bite and the Italians stopped laughing at the bacon and mashed potatoes on the pie, and generally did not resume conversation until three boxes were empty. A few years later, the same friends came back to Portland with a list of things to do in Portland: eat OTTO pizza, and eat lobster, in that order. This year they ate lobster on their OTTO pizza. Respect. — Mary W.

The first date I had 5 and a half years ago was to OTTO with my now fiance! A memory we treasure. — Ryan J.

When we moved to Maine 5 years ago we had no idea where to get food. Didn’t even know where the grocery store was. But OTTO came through and delivered pizza everyday that first week to our doorstep and hasn’t stopped since. — Dan P.

The night before our wedding in August 2017 we had dinner with my soon to be father-in-law who was visiting from Texas. His wife was a chef who had recently passed away and he an avid foodie and (sometimes) critic. He was super impressed by the pizza and salads at the South Portland Cottage Rd restaurant and insisted we go again the next time he visited. (He also gave us a very generous gift to use toward our honeymoon!). He asks us about OTTO every time he plans a visit! — Stephanie M.

My wife and I were working very hard one humid summer evening painting the interior walls of the condo we just purchased on Washington Avenue so my son could live there for school. We had nothing left in us, no energy, no life. And we were famished…so we ordered from OTTO, which we heard great things about (but had never eaten). What a great gastronomic experience! Fresh, crisp, tasty, LITE (not chewy) pizza – what a reward for the hard work and sweat. We have since moved to Portland ourselves and have made OTTO our #1 pizza choice! — Ken S.

When I first moved to Maine my friend took me to OTTO and was like, “You have to try this mashed potato pizza.” I thought that sounded ridiculous until I tried a slice. I think I found Jesus in that moment. All my worries melted away amongst that delicious buttery potato and bacon goodness. I might name my first child Otto. — M C

OTTO X: Ten years! Ten towns! Celebrating a decade of OTTO!

Chefs/owners Mike Keon and Anthony Allen invite you to join in celebrating 10 years of OTTO throughout the month of June.

All month long, and beyond, there will be will be no shortage of ways to celebrate — Keon and Allen want this to be a celebration of their customers and their employees — without which there would be no OTTO.

Since its humble beginnings as a tiny little slice shop on Portland, ME’s Congress Street, OTTO has grown to 13 location in 10 towns in Maine and Massachusetts.

10 YEAR HAPPENINGS

Lobster Masher: For the month of June, OTTO will introduce an extra special Pie of the Month—the “Lobster Masher.” A decadent mash-up (pun intended) of OTTO’s iconic Mashed Potato, Bacon and Scallion “Masher” pie, the “Lobster Masher” will be decadently garnished with fresh Maine lobster meat. The “Lobster Masher” will be priced to move (literally losing money as our way of saying thanks!) — $3.50 per slice, $14.50 for a small pie, and $22.75 for a large. All summer long, every OTTO pie will be served in a limited edition 10th anniversary pizza box.

The Lobster Masher (Mashed Potato, Bacon, Scallion and Fresh Maine Lobster)

OTTO X Ale: Rising Tide Brewing Company, a frequent OTTO collaborator over the years, has created a very special anniversary brew for the occasion. OTTO X, an IPA, will be served throughout June at all OTTO locations in Maine (and our Coolidge Corner, BU, and Arlington locations in MA).  OTTO X is a clean, crisp ale made with flaked rice, feat. Lemondrop, Mandarina and Columbus hops. Coming in at 5.6% ABV, this citrus-forward springtime brew features a nice lemon-oil and sweet orange character.

OTTO X: Anniversary Ale brewed in collaboration with Rising Tide Brewing

X Marks the Spot: On June 17th from 11:30-2pm, OTTO co-owners Mike Keon and Anthony Allen will be working the counter at OTTO’s original slice shop at 576 Congress St. in Portland — exactly where they were 10 years ago when they sold the very first OTTO slice.

Contests, Contests, Contests: In addition, fans should keep a sharp eye on OTTO’s Instagram (@ottoportland) for a series of prize pack giveaways – featuring sports and concert tickets, OTTO anniversary swag, brewery merch, gift cards, and much more.

Employee Parties: OTTO will be throwing 10th anniversary celebrations for employees only — one party in Maine on June 23, and one in Massachusetts on July 14. Restaurants will close at 7pm on these days, so that everyone in the OTTO family can join in the festivities.

THE OTTO STORY

OTTO is the brainchild of Anthony Allen and Mike Keon, who met each other over a decade ago as chefs at neighboring restaurants north of Boston. Allen had opened his first pizzeria on Nantucket at the age of seventeen, later opening a second location on Martha’s Vineyard. Keon came to cooking after working on fishing boats off the coast of Alaska. Their lasting friendship, complementary styles, and shared “less is more” culinary philosophy resulted in the opening of OTTO in downtown Portland, where Keon had been living and working. It was not long until OTTO was gaining regional and national attention for making some of the best pizza around.

“Mike and I are blown away by the fact that it’s been a decade,” says Allen. “Ten years and ten cities—I could never have dreamt it – well, maybe my 17-year-old self did back in-the-day on Nantucket when I opened my first pizza shop.”

“We are continuously working to make sure every pizza is perfect and every slice unforgettable,” says Keon. “Whether you grab a slice to go or eat in one of our full service dining rooms, every member of our team is motivated by this goal of consistently well-executed, uncomplicated food. Our staff has been absolutely monumental in our success – we are beyond grateful and would not be where we are today without them.”

ABOUT THE MENU & SPACES

OTTO is known for its “elevated” pizza approach, using high-quality ingredients – local when possible — and extremely creative toppings such as cranberries, butternut squash, spicy pulled pork, or (even) tortellini and seaweed. The 10th anniversary “Lobster Masher” is an extra special pie to celebrate the anniversary (OTTO features a unique, limited edition pie each month). OTTO is also one of the few places in New England that offers Detroit-Style pizza—featuring an extra thick crust and a crispy bottom.

Each OTTO pizzeria is unique, individually customized for both the physical space and the neighborhood in which it’s located. OTTO locations vary from slice shops to pick-up and delivery to full service dining room restaurants.

Kick off Pride Month with OTTO’s 6-location fundraiser night for Pride Portland on June 4

Join us in celebrating the extraordinary contributions of our LGBTQ community, and in supporting Pride Portland, the wonderful volunteer-run organization that does so much to bring Greater Portland together.

On Tuesday, June 4, between 5-9pm, a portion of every sale at all seven Maine OTTO locations will be donated to Pride Portland.

Whether you live in Portland, South Portland, Yarmouth, or Saco, you can chip in by simply purchasing a slice, a pie, a gift card, a craft beer or glass of wine — anything! Every single purchase made at any location counts — whether dine-in, takeout, or delivery!

And stay tuned for some additional Pride celebrations at OTTO, including parade-day happenings at our original 576 Congress location along the parade route.

We look forward to seeing you and celebrating with you.

OTTO Gift Cards are ‘Buy One Get One’ for the holidays!

The holidays are here – and along with them, holiday shopping! If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the pizza lovers in your life, we’ve got you covered with our Buy One Get One gift card offer!

Our gift cards are perfect for stocking-stuffers or to treat friends or family to a night out at their favorite OTTO. Not to mention, this is the kind of gift that also gives you free pizza in return.

With every $25 spent on an OTTO gift card, you will receive a $5 gift card free! Buy a $50 gift card, get a $10 gift card free! (And so on…)

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Maybe you want to give the free cards to some special elves in your life, or maybe you want to store them away for winter noshing — it’s up to you!

Make sure to stop by your nearest OTTO, as this BOGO offer is available in-store only (and excludes e-gifts). We hope to see you soon!

Happy shopping!

Six not-so-secret ways to save at OTTO

$2 Off With Online Ordering Registration

Registering for an online ordering account has lots of great benefits, including saved order history, saved delivery addresses, and a digital wallet, but did you know that registering an online ordering account can save you money?  Earn $2 off your first order just for registering!

Register today — just select your location and click ‘My Account’ to get started!

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Earn Free Dough (and tons of surprise perks) with OTTO Rewards!

Sign up for OTTO Rewards and enjoy unlimited savings:

  • Earn 1 point for every dollar spent. Receive 20 points just for signing up! Earn $5 off at 50 and 100 points, and $10 off each 100 points thereafter!
  • On Sundays and Mondays, earn Double Rewards points on every purchase!
  • Get a free slice on your birthday (starting Oct. 29 2018!)
  • Additional exclusive offers, benefits, and perks!

Click here for more info on OTTO Rewards!

Lunch Specials

  • Any 2 slices and a drink for $7.95!
  • Any 1 slice, a drink, and a cookie for $5.95!

*at participating locations, drinks include fountain beverage, bottled water, or house-made ice tea, lemonade, or Arnold Palmer

OTTO Happy Hour: Free Slice with Beer or Wine Purchase!

Receive any free slice with a specially priced beer or wine purchase between 4-6pm Monday-Thursday!

*Only available in Maine due to alcohol laws; Only one free slice per person per visit

Kids Eat Free Every Wednesday Night!

On Wednesdays, 5pm to Close, buy any large pizza and get a FREE 8″ kids cheese pizza!

Available only at Maine locations only (not available for takeout or delivery).

Earn Free Slices with our Frequent Eater Card!
Those who purchase by the slice will want to pick up a Frequent Eater Card (available at any OTTO counter). Buy 10 slices and your next one is on the house!

 

It’s time for Oscar Tango Tango Oscar, OTTO’s annual collaboration with Rising Tide

OscarTango_Poster_V1Our annual Spring collaboration with Portland’s Rising Tide Brewing Company, Oscar Tango Tango Oscar, is currently pouring in Maine, and will be rolling out over the coming days in Massachusetts.

Oscar Tango Tango Oscar is brewed with 2-row, flaked rice, carapils and hopped with Amarillo, Mandarina, and Cascade hops. It is fermented with Rising Tide’s house American ale yeast. Oscar Tango Tango Oscar’s citrusy snap goes perfect with an OTTO signature pie on a warm summer day.

Over the years, Oscar Tango has accumulated an overall 3.8 rating on Beer Advocate and a 3.63 rating on Untappd.

The collaboration is only available at OTTO and at the Rising Tide tasting room. Get it while you can. Check in on Untappd and let us know what you think!

Saco OTTO to open July 5!

IMG_1696We’ve been busy putting the final touches on our new Saco location, and we’re excited to announce that we’ll be open for business on Thursday, July 5 (dine-in and take-out only). We will begin delivery operations on Monday, July 16.

Located on 779 Portland Rd, Route 1, adjacent to the Cinemagic & IMAX, this spacious 80-seat location will feature all the OTTO bells and whistles, and then some:

The Saco opening comes hot on the heels of our 9th birthday and the rollout of our new menu, which features 6 new pies, 2 new salads, Everything knots and (at select locations) Hand-cut fries, sliders, baked mac & cheese!

We are thrilled to be serving the best in local and regional craft beers. While there are certainly more great local breweries than we have taps, we will be featuring a rolling variety of breweries over the coming months, starting with:

  • Barreled Souls
  • Banded Horn
  • Austin Street
  • Rising Tide (Oscar Tango Tango Oscar, our spring collaboration brew!)
  • Lone Pine
  • Foundation
  • Maine Beer Co.
  • Gneiss
  • Night Shift
  • and MORE…

We can’t tell you how thrilled we are to become part of the fabric of beautiful, historic Saco, Maine.  Since we announced our plans, we’ve received an outpouring of wonderful messages, calls, emails, and texts, from Saco residents, town employees, and businesses owners. We can’t wait to finally call each of you neighbors.

 

OTTO now serving Violife vegan cheese at all locations!

Violife-Grated-Mozzarella-1As part of our new menu rollout, we are now serving award-winning Violife vegan grated mozzarella-style cheese, which can be added to nearly all of OTTO’s signature pies for a delicious vegan pizza experience.

Violife’s plant-based cheeses are free from common allergens lactose and gluten, as well as being soy- and nut-free. It’s a delicious option not only for vegans, but also for people with intolerances’ or food allergies. Ellen G, writing on Yelp, raves: the “best gluten-free crust with vegan cheese I’ve ever had! (5 Stars).”

Several of our new pies can be enjoyed with vegan cheese, including our Mango-Habanero Cauliflower with House-made Pineapple Salsa. Our Margherita pie and our Arugula, Red Onion and Kalamata Olive pie are also amazing vegan options.

All of OTTO’s non-meat toppings are vegan with the exception of butternut squash, roasted pear, and mashed potatoes. These items aside, there are literally thousands of potential topping combinations for our vegan customers.

For more information on Violife’s mozzarella vegan cheese, including ingredients and nutritional info, click here.

We can’t tell you how excited we are to further expand our dietary options at OTTO, and we look forward to hearing from you, our guests. Let us know what you think. We’re listening.

Hungry now? Order online!

It’s our birthday, and we have presents for you!

We’re 9!

On June 18, 2009, Mike Keon and Anthony Allen opened the first OTTO, a tiny slice shop on Congress Street. Nine years, 12 locations (soon to be 13!), and millions (yes millions) of pizzas later, we are so incredibly thankful for all the hard work and passion that our employees have put into making OTTO what it is today.  But none of it would be possible without you, our customers. When everyone told us mashed potatoes on pizza would never fly, you proved them wrong. You have been with us through thick and thin (not a crust joke, we swear!), and we greatly appreciate your loyalty over the past nine years.

New Menu!

As a way to say thank you for the past nine years, we have a present for you. Today, at all locations, we are rolling out a new menu, which, aside from featuring most of your OTTO favorites, includes:

  • New pie additions:
    • Mango Habanero Chicken (or Cauliflower), with House-made Pineapple Salsa
    • Arugula, Red Onion & Kalamata Olives
    • Jalapeno, Bacon & Ricotta
    • Pineapple Salsa, Bacon & Fresh Jalapeño
    • Sausage & Broccoli
    • Buffalo Cauliflower, Scallion & Blue Cheese

 

  • New salads:
    • Greek Salad
    • Chicken Cobb
  • Vegan Cheese Options
    • Violife Mozzarella-style shred may be added to any pie
    • Note: All non-meat toppings (with the exception of our butternut squash and mashed potatoes) are prepared vegan.
    • Our Mushroom and Cauliflower are now prepared vegan
  • Detroit Style Pizza (at select locations)
    • This delicious, thick, deep-dish, crispy-crust treat is now on the menu at our Brookline and Munjoy Hill locations
  • Everything Knots (at select locations)
    • Our dough baked and sprinkled with ‘everything’ seasoning
    • Available at several OTTO locations: All Portland and South Portland locations, Yarmouth, and Brookline

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Rising Tide Collaboration Beer!

Our fourth release of our Spring collaboration with Portland’s Rising Tide Brewing Company, Oscar Tango Tango Oscar, is currently pouring in ME locations, and will be rolling out to MA locations in the coming days!

Oscar Tango Tango Oscar is a crisp, snappy, and sessionable pale ale brewed with rice. The perfect thing to pair with one of our new pies.

New Box!

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Our new pizza boxes will be hitting the streets this week! The box cover design comes from Mali, a 7th grader at King Middle School in Portland. Mali competed with hundreds of students throughout New England, made it through the voting phase, and then was named the winner by our panel of judges. Mali’s school was given $1000 towards art education, and Mali and runners up received pizza parties, OTTO swag, prize packs from Artist & Craftsman Supply.

Come on out and help us celebrate nine years of OTTO!

Hello, Saco! OTTO opening full-service location adjacent to Cinemagic IMAX!

Untitled-1The rumors are true. OTTO will be opening its 7th Maine location this June on Route 1 in Saco, adjacent to the Cinemagic IMAX theater and across the street from Funtown Splashtown.

The 80-seat location at 779 Portland Road will feature all the OTTO bells and whistles, and then some:

  • Quick-serve slice counter
  • Full-service dining room
  • Full bar (with 12-20 taps of regional craft beer)
  • Takeout counter
  • Outdoor patio seating
  • Delivery
  • Weekly fundraiser series

We are thrilled to become part of the neighborhood, and we have been humbled by an abundance of well-wishes and welcomes from Saco residents, businesses, employees and organizations. We can’t express how excited we are.

To stay up to date on our progress, opening dates, events, and more, please like our OTTO Saco Facebook page.  For employment opportunities, please visit our careers page.

See you this summer, Saco!