Otto Pizza - Portland, ME

Moose Pond can hardly be considered a town. We still don’t have a theater and there’s not more than one road that’s paved and that road just runs for miles and miles of evergreens and rocky dirt until striking Laketown and that’s a small town too.


I love movies. My cousin gave me a cracked TV/VCR combo he found in a junkyard and now and then he sends me tapes. They’re always old ones that he’s already watched into oblivion; magnetic bolts riddle the screen and the tracking on the soundtrack is all warped so it sounds like whoever composed the score was drunk. The movies he sends are good though: Strangers on a Train, Harakiri, The Night of the Hunter, he even sent me Chinatown and that only came out seven years ago.


Living in Moose Pond is more about logs than anything else. Everybody here logs. There are about seventeen families all told and about three blood lines running through our town: the LaFoix, the Hughs and the Belloys. I’m a Belloy.


I'm only ten and I know I don’t want to log.


Cheese by the ice cream scoop


I want to make movies and in fact, I just made one with Henri LaFue, Norm Hugh and Pat Belloy my little brother. Last time he came into town my cousin gave me an old Super 8 and taught me how to focus it even though the focus was basically all busted, but how could I mind? My cousin lives out in the city in Caribou and his Dad gives him all sorts of stuff since they’re rich meaning they have a house that’s not a log cabin that also doesn’t have wheels.


I tried to remake Le Samourai, my favorite movie ever. It’s an Italian movie about a super-cool and calm hit man who’s hired to kill a nightclub owner. Unfortunately when the super-cool hit man goes to get paid for the hit the guys who hired him try to kill him and also the police are after him because a lot of people saw him in the club on the night of the murder. But he’s so super cool that he loses both. In the end he allows himself to get killed for a girl. Classic noir.


So we tried to remake it with my camera. We only had fifteen minutes of film and no way to edit the video so we just had to film it in order of the scenes and each one of those had to be pretty shortened. On the better side though I did get up the nerve to ask Meghynn Hughs – she’s the prettiest girl in my grade – to stand in as the lounge singing girl who the super-cool hit man eventually decides to die for and she said yes.


We only got her to do two scenes, the one where Jef (the super-cool hit man played by Henri) gets spotted by her in the night club. But since it started to rain and Henri had baseball practice we didn’t get much more than her looking surprised and Henri walking away in the rain. The second time we filmed with Meghynn though was way better since the movie needed to end with Henri almost killing her and then getting killed by Norm instead. Henri built a kiss into the scene and got Meghynn to kiss him, which was kind of a deviation from the plot, but I think it was probably OK since now Henri and Meghynn are going out. The majority of the movie ended up being Henri killing Pat and then running away from Norm who was wearing his dad’s deer-hunting hat since we didn’t have any police gear.


Everyone in town had heard about us filming the movie and a lot of hype got built up around it. People wanted to see it, so we set up a viewing. At first, I was kinda proud of having done it, but when it got closer to the time when I’d have to show it I started getting a little nervous. Actually really nervous.


The movie itself was dark because we filmed it in the woods after school and the plot had a lot of holes and most of the time you couldn’t really hear anything because of the buzz saws in the background and the crash of falling trees.


On the night of the showing Georges LaFoix – he’s the oldest LaFoix – nailed a big sheet to a couple trees in the clearing by Lark Lake. He ran a power cord out from a generator in the back of his Ford pickup and plugged in the clunky projector and the speakers from the town hall that belonged to his uncle. The thick tree cover obscured the bright moon and stars so luckily everyone could still see the projection. 


The whole town came out, including my cousin from out in Caribou with his Dad and sister too.


Just pick it. Pick it good.

By that point, I know it was going to be a disaster. Nobody would understand the subtleties of how Jef the super-cool hitman was actually a noble and principled guy despite the fact that he killed for a living since Henri (as Jef) was mostly just a big goof, hamming it up for the camera whenever he could, skipping as he ran away from Norm (who was working on his weight), and kissing Meghynn with tongues. Plus they wouldn’t know that Norm was supposed to be a policeman because what policeman wears a deer hunting hat and has a black eye for no reason – he got it fighting with Phil Lafoix the day before we started filming. And then there was Pat who was supposed to be the dead club owner but you could see he was obviously just crying on the ground because Henri hit him hard with the prop gun (a stick) instead of shooting him.


It was going to be terrible.


When the opening credits rolled – we’d carved them into a tree with Henri’s knife – people started clapping even though nothing had happened yet.


As the movie went on they laughed and oohed and clapped the whole time. I kept swiveling my head from the screen to the crowd and even my cousin was smiling. The only tension came when Henri kissed Meghynn but even then it was just a lot of stern stares from the old people and nothing tangibly bad.  When the title card “Fin” came onto screen we got a standing ovation. And since I hadn’t been in the film but was kinda responsible for it Henri and Norm hoisted me up on their shoulders and the whole town of Moose Pond was clapping for the movie like it was the Godfather or something. I still knew it was bad but I felt proud anyway.


Once the crowd had dispersed and the sound of diesel engines had died away, my cousin came up to me and I thought he was going to give me an actual review of my movie, not just say something nice like most people had said. But even my cousin said that it had been an awesome movie. It wasn’t Le Samourai exactly, but it was still good in its own way.


I guess that’s what’s interesting about stuff. You can never say if it’s absolutely good or bad because of anything else. Sure, you can always compare stuff to other stuff and that’ll make you feel like you know which one is better. But there’s never really a way to compare absolutely, because everyone has a different opinion on what they like and what’s good, so it’s all preference in the end. It’s all just personal preference and that’s it.




3.2 Stars

I like Otto. I have gone there often. The straight truth is that it does not hold even a birthday candle to NYC pizza, but that’s beside the point. Otto is not trying to be NYC pizza (at least I hope they’re not), they’re trying to be Otto. With interesting toppings – like ricotta mushroom, pulled pork, mashed potato-bacon-scallon – tons of options and a slice always at the ready, this is Portland’s top pizza joint. My only tangible gripe is that the crust can get a little too dry, a little too often. 



Three fifty a slice ain’t hay, but the slices are certainly wide and covered in fixings. I’ve never gotten a full pie but I’d surmise it would feel as worth the price as a slice.


Comfortable Nook

(Speaking for their 576 Congress St. location) Dark wood, just the right amount of light, semi-weird décor including a stuffed ape. It’s a great place to step in from the rain/snow and grab a beer/slice.


Mamma Mia

Each server seems to have as much character as the joint itself. Great at what they do and seem to enjoy doing it. Definitely an excellent group.



Never take my word for anything. Go try it yourself. I’ve heard enough glowing reviews of Otto to think it was the best pizza place in the world. I have a different opinion but that’s simply me. It’s a fun place to have a leisurely drink and a bite that feels upscale but doesn’t cost a ton. Not my favorite pizza, but then again, who am I to judge?