New York Pizza at Shibuya Pizza Slice

Having lived in NYC I was spoiled with many options for pizza by the slice. My favorite was Two Boots and there was one in the West Village near my home. I would have taxi drivers bring me there if were returning home from an overseas trip.

In Tokyo we have incredible pizza, like Nakameguro Seirinkan and Nihonbashi Pizza Bar on 38th at the Mandarin Oriental. These are like pizzas you will find in Napoli and Roma.

I love Rocco’s New York-Style Pizza but it is up in Oji, a part of town I never get to. It’s been two years since I last went. I’d love to go back, but it’s a hike.

I am thrilled to have finally made it to Pizza Slice in Shibuya and even happier that it is good New York pizza. Thin, crispy crust, that almost took me back to Two Boots. The pepperoni by the slice is 500 JPY. Nice tomato sauce and pepperoni, just like in New York City. The slices are warmed up after you order and brought to your table.

Even the cashier had an attitude and was kind of bitchy when I asked for a receipt. I totally felt like I was back home. I guess we get spoiled in Japan with polite service.

Even the room feels like you are in America. A mix of large communal and small tables. A counter on the side to sit. There is a large display of the variety of pizzas to choose from. The crowd this afternoon was a mix of Japanese and non-Japanese, all young and even a gaggle of high school boys.

Best of all, Pizza Slice is in Shibuya, a neighborhood that I get to very often. It’s about a ten-minute walk from the station, faster if you know where you are going. Here’s hoping they open their first branch on the Chuo line.

Pizza Slice

Shibuya-ku, Sarugakucho 3-1  渋谷区猿楽町3-1

http://www.pizzaslice.co/

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Mandarin Oriental Pizza Bar on 38th

Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad at Pizza Bar on 38th

Trappizino

Trappizino

The specialty of the Pizza Bar on 38th. Marscapone, black olives, and truffle essence. This is so rich in umami and impressive. The first time I had this I woke up the next day thinking of it. Even a week later it haunts you, in a good way.

Cinque Formaggio

Cinque Formaggio

The pizza here is Roma-style. The crust is 80% water and is fermented for 48 hours. It is light and airy. The five cheese pizza is topped with truffle honey. The wine list includes a nice selection of Italian wines that naturally pair well with the cuisine.

Chef Daniele

Chef Daniele

Chef Daniele serving up a glass of “konatsu-cello” made from the tart summer citron, konatsu that is steeped in vodka with star anise and cloves. A perfect combination of Japanese ingredients with a traditional Italian drink. It is chef Daniele who came up with the recipe for the pizza dough after doing research back home in Italia. Grazie, chef!

The Pizza Bar on 38th

Mandarin Oriental, 38th Floor

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 2-1-1

www.mandarinoriental.com/tokyo/fine-dining/the-pizza-bar-on-38/

I first wrote about the Pizza Bar on 38th for Metropolis:

metropolis.co.jp/dining/restaurant-reviews/the-pizza-bar-on-38th/

Nakameguro da Isa

Da Isa pizza spicy salami

Nakameguro da Isa spicy salami pizza

Many friends tell me that they love the pizza at da Isa in Nakameguro. The shop is very famous and is often featured in magazines and on television for its pizza. Whenever I come to this part of town though I usually make a beeline for Seirinkan. At lunchtime at da Isa there is a great special of about six different pizzas for only 1,000 JPY. A bargain as many of these pizzas are almost about twice that price. When we were seated a little after noon we were given the lunch menu and told that two were already sold out for the lunch offer. We took this spicy salami pizza off the regular menu, it was about 2,000 JPY. It was good although we picked it because it said it had taleggio cheese and instead we got blue cheese. My girlfriend and I were too busy chatting that we didn’t comment on it until we had already eaten most of the pizza, too late to ask for it to be remade. 🙂

Da Isa pizza mushrooms

Nakameguro da Isa lunch funghi pizza

The lunch menu included this funghi pizza which is a great bargain at 1,000 JPY. The crust was charred and there is a generous amount of toppings. These are great pizzas and you could imagine yourself in Italy. There is a long list of pizzas so something for everyone, but it is the lunch special that is worth making a trip across town for. It’s about a five-minute walk from Nakameguro station along the main street. When you exit the station (there is only one exit) cross the street and take a left. Walk about five minutes and da Isa is on your right.

The pizzaolo, Hisanori Yamamoto, is very nice on the eyes. He is behind the counter in front of the wood-fired oven. He is known for winning the World Pizza Cup in Naples, which is no surprise.

Just be sure not to come on a Monday as they are closed. I have done this in the past. Also, don’t come on a Tuesday if Monday is a national holiday. Da Isa will be open for the national holiday on the Monday, but will then close on Tuesday. I have also come on a Tuesday after a national holiday. Luckily, Seirinkan down the street, was open.

da Isa

Meguro-ku, Aobada 1-28-9, 目黒区青葉台1-28-9

Rocco’s New York-Style Pizza

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Rocco’s New York-Style Pizza has been on my radar for a long time. We have great pizza in Tokyo, like the classic Italian Neopolitan style, cooked in wood-burning ovens, as can be found at the famous Nakameguro Seirinkan. What is harder to find is the New York-style, baked in a deck oven, and sold by the slice. Toppings are what I often crave like pepperoni, Italian sausage, and olives, items that aren’t traditionally put on the Neopolitan pizzas.

Rocco’s is just a short walk from Oji station, an area that is not part of my regular routine. I am thrilled to have finally made it as Rocco’s pizza reminds me of my years in New York City. Big slices that fall over the paper plates that are right out of the oven. The tables are lined with red-and-white checker cloth. Grated cheese, chili flakes, and powdered garlic condiments are also on the table, another nod to New York. There is a full menu, including calzones, Buffalo wings, and New York cheesecake. We didn’t have much time this day but will definitely go back to try more of the menu.

The owner, Dan, is from New York, and I was thrilled to be able to catch part of a New York Yankee’s game on the big-screen television. The sports schedule is listed on their website. While Oji was not an area I went to often the past, I see that changing. This pizza is worth a journey.

Rocco’s New York-Style Pizza

Kita-ku, Oji-honcho 1-1-24

03-3906-9710

http://www.roccosnewyorkstylepizza.com

Ginza Vomero – Italian Lunch in the Shadows of the Kabukiza

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Just behind the mammoth Kabukiza theater in Ginza is an energetic Italian pizzeria and trattoria, Vomero. The welcome is warm and there is a lot of activity in the open kitchen, especially around the wood-burning pizza oven. The 1,580 JPY lunch course menu starts off with an appetizer plate of salad and some small bites like mortadella, omelet, and focaccia. The main is a pizza, pasta, or risotto, and finishes with a dolce and cafe.

The pizza is classic Neopolitan-style with a thick, chewy, charred crust. The Margherita had a generous amount of cheese and tomato sauce and is a big pie. Good to come hungry.

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The lasagna was one of the best I’ve had in Tokyo with a flavorful sauce and filled with meat. I will come back just for this lasagna.

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We came in before the noon rush and the restaurant quickly filled up. There is a second floor with more seating and that too was full. The attentive staff are friendly and kept my glass water filled, something that gets overlooked at many places. The restaurant has nice buzz and it was obvious that many customers are regulars. A great spot for lunch in Ginza, just come early or late.

My girlfriend forgot her gloves at the restaurant. We had walked about two blocks when she realized it and when we turned back to return to the restaurant a server was running towards us with her gloves. What is amazing about this is that we had taken two turns (a left and then a right) from the restaurant.

Pizzera Trattoria Vomero

Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-12-8

03-6278-8984

Nakameguro Seirinkan – One of the Best Pizzas in Tokyo

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Susumu Kakinuma makes some of Tokyo’s best pizzas in Nakameguro. Alan Richman, the decorated food journalist documents Kakinuma and his pizzas in this timeless GQ magazine article. It is worth the journey across the city to Nakameguro for one of his pies. There are two pizzas, the marinara and the Margherita.

Here is Richman on Seirinkan. “…Kakinuma prepares two kinds of pizza, marinara and Margherita, because that’s what you get at his favorite pizzeria in Naples. (I preferred the marinara, because the tomato sauce and garlic were so vivid.) His crusts are soft, chewy, puffy, slightly charred, and incredibly tender.”

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What Richman doesn’t write about is my second favorite dish at Seirinkan after the pizza, broccoli. Boiled until al dente, then sautéed in a pan with crispy garlic chips and olive oil, this is the perfect partner to the pies. Kakinuma kindly shared the recipe with us on a recent visit and while we have made it a few times at home, it’s never as good as it is here. He also recommends dipping the chewy crust of the pizza in the garlic oil that the broccoli is served with.

Seirinkan is just a few minutes’ walk from Nakameguro station. if you are thirsty after your pizza, Bryan Baird’s Taproom, with some of Japan’s best craft beer, is just around the corner.

Seirinkan

Meguro-ku, Kami-Meguro 2-6-4

03-3714-5160

Pizzeria GG

GG1Anyone who knows the Tokyo food scene is aware of the many wood-burning ovens and great pizzerias in the city. Some of my favorites, like Seirinkan in Naka-Meguro, are a trip for me to get to. I’ve been looking for something closer to where we live on the Chuo line. Sadly, most of it is disappointing.

I’ve heard of Pizzeria GG but have had the hardest time locating it. I’ve seen it on TV and in magazines, but for all of the time I spend in Kichijoji, I’ve never been able to find it. Finally, with the help of an iPad and some satellites far up in the sky, I succeeded. I had walked by it for months. If you don’t know what to look for, you two will walk right by.

I was with our son this day so took the meat pie. It’s a large pizza and one should go on an empty stomach. The crust was thick on the edges and thin in the middle. For me it’s a great pie. The dough is chewy, toppings are generous, and best of all, it’s close to home.

GG2

The fritto misto was of zucchini, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes. Hot out of the oil and our serving of vegetables for this lunch.GG3

Proper wood-burning oven. GG4And, the exterior, which I have marched right by. I even stood in front of it, holding my iPad that said I had arrived at my destination, and couldn’t spot it.

Will definitely go back. It’s very close to the lovely Inokashira Koen, which would be perfect for a long walk before (or after) the pizza. I hear it fills up quickly on the weekends, so go early or late. Better yet, come on a weekday if you can.

Pizzeria GG

Tokyo-to, Musashino-shi, Kichijoji Minamicho 1-17-1, B1

0422-26-5024

Roma Pizza in Tokyo

Napoletana pizza are not the only type of pizzas tempting diners in Tokyo. Roma pizzas, with a thinner and thus crispier crust, are also popular and authentic versions too are available in the city.

Pizzeria Romana Gianicolo

Pizzeria Romana Gianicolo

Pizzeria Romana Gianicolo

Minato-ku, Azabu Juban 2-8-8, Watanabe Bldg. B1

03-6435-2080

11:30 – 14:30; 18:00 – 22:30

closed Monday

http://www.gianicolo.jp/

Pizzeria Romana Bernini

Pizzeria Romana Bernini

Pizzeria Romana Bernini

Chuo-ku, Ginza 2-11-13

03-6228-4774

11:45 – 14:00; 18:00 – 23:00

no holidays

http://www.bernini.jp/pizzeria/

Pizzeria Sabatini Aoyama

Pizzeria Sabatini Aoyama

Pizzeria Sabatini Aoyama

Minato-ku, Kita Aoyama 2-13-5, Suncrest Bldg B1

03-3402-2027

11:30 – 14:30; 17:30 – 22:30

no holidays

http://www.sabatini.co.jp/pizzeria_aoyama/index.html

Il Pentito

Il Pentito

Il Pentito

Shibuya-ku, Yoyogi 3-1-3, AXIS 1F

03-3320-5699

19:00 – 22:00

closed Sunday and holidays

http://www.meridionale.com/index.html

bigote

bigote

bigote

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Honcho 4-7-4

03-5203-1919

12:00 – 16:00; 18:30 – 22:30

closed Saturday, Sunday, and holidays

Napoletana pizza in Tokyo.

Napoletana Pizza in Tokyo

aogi pizza

aogi pizza

Peppe

Peppe

Perhaps the best place to get a really great pizza outside of Italy is not New York City but in Tokyo. The website for the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana lists thirty-five authentic Napoletana pizzerias in Japan.

Many of the pizzaiolos have apprenticed in Italy, bake their pizzas in wood burning ovens, and do an outstanding job of replicating authentic Italian pizzas. Alan Richman wrote an excellent piece about this (as well as French and Chinese cuisine in Japan) in this piece in GQ magazine. His piece opens up in Nakameguro with Kakinuma-san of Seirinkan, who is one of the most revered pizzaiolos in Japan. There are only two pizzas on his menu, marinara or Margherita as well as some salads, pastas, and other dishes. I always get the broccoli sautéed with garlic and then save the garlic oil to dip the crust of the pizza into later.

Thanks to Tokyo’s pizza boom there are now several more restaurants in the metropolis to satiate your craving for pizza. Here are just some (of many).

Seirinkan

Seirinkan

Seirinkan 聖林館

Meguro-ku, Nakameguro 2-6-4

03-3714-5160

11:30 – sold out; 18:00 – 21:30

no holidays

http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1317/A131701/13003188/

la bicocca

la bicocca

la bicocca

Setagaya-ku, Kamiuma 4-5-1

03-3410-7710

11:30 – 14:00; 17:30 – 22:00

closed Monday

http://www.la-bicocca.jp/

Peppe, at only twenty-six years old, may appear to be young for a pizzaiolo but has said that he has been helping out in pizzerias in his native Naples since he was twelve.

Tarantella da Luigi

Tarantella da Luigi

Tarantella da Luigi

Minato-ku, Shirokane 3-22-2

03-6408-5552

12:00 – 14:00 Saturday and holidays

17:30 – 23:00 Monday – Saturday (until 22:00 on Sunday)

no holidays

http://tarantella-da-luigi.com/

Teratoka-san has apprenticed with seven pizzerias in Naples and has spent more time in Italy making pizza than in Japan.

aogi Soshigaya

aogi Soshigaya

aogi Soshigaya

Setagaya-ku, Soshigaya 2-4-7, Soshigaya Danchi Building #1

03-6411-9676

12:00 – 14:00; 18:00 – 22:30

closed Tuesday

http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1318/A131814/13117590/

Goto-san serves authentic Napolitan pizza as well as a local version which is topped with shirasu (boiled baby anchovies) and nori.

da Isa

Pizzeria e Trattoria da Isa

Pizzeria e Trattoria da Isa

Meguro-ku, Aobadai 1-28-9

03-5768-3739

11:30 – 14:00 (until 14:30 on Saturday and holidays)

17:30 – 22:00

no holidays

http://www.da-isa.jp/

Yamamoto-san prides his pizza on its ingredients. The flour and salt are imported from Italy. The dough is slowly fermented at room temperature for eight to ten hours.

Roma pizza in Tokyo.

Seirinkan

Seirinkan

Seirinkan

Photo by Chuck Tanaka Peterson

As a New Yorker who visited Japan often in the early ‘70s as a child, I have ingrained in my memory a pizza that was topped with squid legs. I remember the disappointment of the tentacles peeking out from under the cheese almost taunting me. For the longest time I avoided pizza in Japan. Besides, there are so many great things to get here like tempura, tonkatsu, and ramen, why bother with mediocre pizza? GQ contributor, Alan Richman—the “most decorated food writer in history”—encouraged me to check out Seirinkan in Nakameguro. I went, albeit with little confidence that I would be satisfied or satiated.

The first good sign, Seirinkan is easy to find: Just a few minutes walk from Nakameguro station. The restaurant is spread over three floors and a narrow, spiral staircase connects the floors. The owner, Susumu Kakinuma, has an affinity for military souvenirs.

Restaurants like Seirinkan that focus on their craft often have limited menus. Seirinkan’s menu offers simple ingredients like cheese and tomato sauce on handmade dough, heated in a wood-burning oven until crispy and piping hot. You can select from either a Margherita of tomato and buffalo mozzarella or a marinara of tomato and garlic. Pizzas this simple insist upon quality ingredients. Cooked to exactly the perfect moment, the middle ingredients melt together and the outside crust is puffy, scorched, and crispy.

The side dishes round out the menu with salads such as Caprese, or ruccola and Parmigiano, sliced prosciutto, and broccoli in a garlic olive oil sauce. The staff suggested that we save the garlic infused olive oil to dip the pizza crust into. Brilliant advice and it has become a regular part of every visit since.

Service is simple as is the menu. My only complaint is that the staff opened the wine before bringing it to the table. My three thirsty friends looked at me disappointingly when the server presented an opened half bottle. I wanted to refuse the bottle but my Japanese companions were too embarrassed.

Seirinkan is open for lunch and is often on the quiet side. Dinners can be very busy. Note that Seirinkan’s website advises diners that the restaurant will close early if they run out of pizza. While my craving for pizza no longer exists, the search for an authentic bagel continues.

Seirinkan
Meguro-ku, Kamimeguro 2-6-4
Tokyo, tel: 03-3714-5160, Web: www.seirinkan.jp 

This first appeared in the American Chamber of Commerce Journal:

http://accjjournal.com/seirinkan/