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Renowned Chef Phil Howard Decides Pasta on Piccadilly Is Worth Risking Lawsuit From Man With Duck Crusher

The former frontman of the Square chef will open Otto in November, but a certain Frenchman with a canard press might have something to say

A birdseye view of three plates of pasta
A range of pastas from Phil Howard’s Otto.
Otto

Renowned chef Phil Howard will turn his pasta delivery side gig into a fully fledged restaurant when he opens Otto on Piccadilly in November.

Howard, who is best known for his 25-year stewardship of then-two-Michelin-starred the Square, has tapped Louis Korovilas, formerly of Bancone, as executive chef. Korovilas recently opened Noci, a neighbourhood pasta restaurant in Islington, but is no longer listed as a chef on its website. A spokesperson for Otto did not confirm whether or not he has left for this role.

Howard, who started Otto with business partner Julian Dyer in April 2021, is promising dishes that he has made cornerstones of the delivery offer: gnocchetti with smashed sausage and white wine; a standard-issue pappardelle, ragu, and red wine situation; and squid ink pasta with sardines and tomatoes.

The chef says he enjoys cooking “at a price point that is wholly accessible to all”; since leaving the Square in 2016, he has opened a series of restaurants whose prices have softened as they go. Elystan Street, in Chelsea, has a Michelin star; Church Road, in Barnes, is lower key, with both opened in partnership with Rebecca Mascarenhas. The duo opened Kitchen W8, also Michelin-starred, in 2009. Howard is also far from a late adopter of pasta; strozzapreti is a mainstay of his menu at Elystan Street, while a lasagne of crab was a long-time hit at the Square.

It remains to be seen whether or not one of the city’s most idiosyncratic eponymous restaurants will take issue with the opening at 198 Piccadilly. Otto’s, on Grays Inn Road, is the preserve of Otto Tepasse and a mechanical device dedicated to crushing duck carcasses into sweet juice. This does not seem a character to legally trifle with, but neither does Tepasse appear as litigious as the likes of Adam Handling (and there is already another Otto besides: A Turkish outfit in Wanstead.)

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