- Lane Rettig
Here's a quick question: I'm from New York City, I've been living in Tokyo for a month now, and I haven't been able to find pizza here anywhere. Only Shakey's, the Sacramento joint, which is all over the place--their lunch buffet is worth the price, because of the included curry, pasta, and potatoes, even if the pizza's a little, well, Japanese for my tastes :)
So, is there any other kind of pizza here in Tokyo? Anything worth eating? Anything--dare I ask--resembling New York pizza?
Thanks so much!
Welcome to Tokyo! I've only been here 4 years, but so far, haven't found any decent NY or deep-dish here. Actually, my very first post ever on this site was a query about where to find deep-dish in Tokyo...the verdict was learn to make my own, (which I have [Thanks Bryan ;)])!
All that said, the best pizza by far that I've found is at Brendan's Pizzakaya. They are good at both thin and thick crust, and will customize their toppings to your whims. I always hear them billed as "California" pizza, and while some of their toppings fit that bill, they have enough variety to please just about everybody. Very good sauce, which they can lay on easy or heavy. Quality of toppings is also very good. And thankfully, you don't have to start your order with, "no corn, no mayo".
A few years ago, out in front of Gaspanic (Roppongi) on weekends, they did sell pie-by-the-slice. It has been a while since I've wandered down there, so I don't know if they are still doing it. I do remember that the sauce was really, really sweet.
If in your travels around Tokyo, you do happen upon a great slice, please, please post about it!
As a Sacramento-raised expat, I was happy to see Shakey's, until, like you, I got to the toppings.
My friend in Tokyo says the following (slightly edited for clarity):
Napule (5-6-24 Minani Aoyama; 03-3797-3790)in
Omotesando, located next to the Spiral Bldg. I used to go there for lunch when i was working at Spiral. It's a pretty well-known place for pizza, but it's an
Italian style one. It's good and worth a try.
re: Peter Cuce
Thanks a lot for the tip! Haven't tried this place yet, but will definitly put it onto the list.
A couple of years ago, I read in one of the local papers that Tokyo has more imported wood-burning ovens imported from Italy than any other city in the world.
During my tenure here, I've been in LITTLE hole-in-the-wall Italian places, where the simplest of basic pizzas just kick ass! Places owned by Japanese, run by Japanese, and cooked by Japanese; usually down alleys that my friends have taken me, that I have no hope of ever finding again.
Italian pizza deliciousness is out there. Prevalent, seductive, and calling to us. It exists...cutting through the hazy, tempting aromatics of each neighborood; seductive fingers of basil and freshly cooked dough, leading like the Siren's song...to feast.
New York style, and Chicago style, is, damned-be-all, the most seductive of the forbidden lovers; just a fond memory.
re: Andy P.
Back before you got to Tokyo, Andy, there was briefly a branch (or a franchise, or something) of Lombardi's in Shibuya...that was some good New York style pizza. It was a building with 3-4 pizza places, each a different style on a different floor (think there was even a Chicago one), and Lombardi's was always the least crowded--go figure. If it doesn't have ham and pineapple...
I've been to Napule only once, at lunch--it was good, but as you've mentioned there are a lot of places that serve very good pizza, and probably don't have the attitude problem. Lunch was fine, but given the location they're always full at dinner, and the one time I tried to walk in in the evening the guy at the door made a big X with his arms, and shook his head "no" while pursing up his lips. Charming.
I've heard of some good places in the Ebisu area--a search around on bento.com might turn them up. Searching by Italian seems to do better than searching for "pizza". Pizza Express in Harajuku is not very tasty, if I remember correctly.
re: Rachel M.
I think Lombardi's failed simply because they were on the top floor, and when you have a single building crammed with four different pizza joints - all of them fairly large - it's hard to distinguish them. I guess they thought it was going to be a pizza theme park or something, but it flopped pretty quickly.
For non-NY-style pizza, there are now dozens of places in town serving great thin-crust Italian pizza made in wood-burning ovens - the Isola chain comes to mind immediately. (And I've also been rather rudely treated at Napule - I guess they feel they can afford to treat their customers badly.)
I thought Pizza Express wasn't too bad, actually, and pretty good value for money. Apparently much better than the branches back home in Britain. As for delivery pizza, I think the garlic pizza at Pizza La is the best of the bunch that I've tried.
re: Robb S.
I may try Pizza La's garlic pizza next time - the couple of times I ordered from them I found it waaaay too sweet. Yeah, it's silly, but I like Pizza Hut's sausage crust pizza, with the little weiners rolled up in the edge. Their sauce is less sweet too.
I had a pretty good parma ham, sunny-side up egg and arugula pizza from Cafe Bellagio in Kabukicho, but the next time I went the crust was soft and wimpy, not blistery at all.
I've heard good things about Limon in Atre at Ueno station.
There's probably more good pizza in Tokyo than there is in L.A. But since there's probably more bad pizza as well (maybe there's just more of everything in Tokyo) it's harder to find.
A few months ago I was looking at some beautiful Italian pizzas pictured in a Japanese gourmet cooking magazine. I don't have the issue any more, but I remember several of the places shown were members of Verace Pizza, an Italian organization in Naples that grants certificates to places that follow rather stringent guidelines for making authentic Neopolitan pizza. I've included a link to a list of their members, of which there are several in Tokyo. These restaurants would be a good place to start looking.
I don't know about New York-style pizza in Tokyo, but I wouldn't doubt that a decent facsimilie exists somewhere. The Japanese seem intent on accurarately duplicating anything they set their mind to (Gibson Les Pauls, Tarantino flicks, etc.). There must be some decent food magazines or guides you can consult.
On a recent trip to Tokyo I was amused by a Shakey's poster that announced "More meat! More potatotes!" - just what I want on a pizza. Good luck, and let us know if you find anything.
This is an incredibly dated response but Rocco's New York Style Pizza recently opened in Oji, Tokyo. They do a thin crust pizza by the slice (or pie) and it's pretty reasonably priced and good as well. I believe the slices are from an 18" pizza, which I haven't seen anywhere else in Tokyo (Sbarro's does a 16" pizza but Rocco's is much better pizza).
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