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Tokyo Pizza

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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!

-Lane

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  1. Hi Lane,

    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.

    Brendan's Pizzakaya
    Nishi-Azabu 3-1-9
    3479-8383

    Yoroshiku,
    Andy

    1 Reply
    1. re: Andy P.

      You're so welcome. Silly, but I think of you every time I make pizza.

      Barbara

    2. 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.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Peter Cuce

        Hey Peter,

        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.

        Yoroshiku,
        Andy

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

            1. 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.

      2. 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.

        Link: http://www.verapizzanapoletana.org/vp...

        1. 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).

          1. Although this won't help Lane, it will help others looking for a real slice of NY pizza. I am reposting about Rocco's New York style pizza in Oji, Tokyo. Just found out about it last week (January 2011) but the place has been open since June of last year. Can't believe it was off my pizza radar for so long. A good ole slice of NY style cheese pizza can be had there. A nice crisp slightly charred crust, perfectly melted mozzarella cheese and a good sauce to hold it all together. Also the size of the slice is NY size as well not these skimpy things Sbarro's is selling. I think a slice cost 350 yen and an extra 25 yen per topping of all "NY standard" toppings or Japanese toppings. The placec feels like a NY pizza place. I got 2 slices, one regular and one with sausage (see picture).

             
             
            4 Replies
            1. re: sonik212

              Cool, what pizzeria in NY would you compare Rocco's to? Just trying to get a gauge on what to expect.

              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                P.I.G.- (Great name by the way...)
                Back home in NYC I frequented Maffei's (Chelsea), Mike DUE (Murray Hill), and Joe's Pizza (West Vill), and I would say that Rocco's (at least the 2 slices I had) were very close to what I consider decent pizza. They would be a busy shop in New York City.
                But that said, maybe best to go there with low expectations like I did. I haven't had a slice close to NY style in over a year and a half, so was pleasantly surprised by a taste I never expected in the outer regions of Tokyo.

                1. re: sonik212

                  Thanks for getting back Sonik, Cheers!

                  1. re: sonik212

                    Born and raised in Murray Hill. If Rocco's is as good as you say it is, I'm very interested. That said, I can walk to Pizzakaya, and Rocco's is a haul for me, so not sure when I can get out there. Looking forward to it.

              2. Currently the best pizza in Tokyo is at Da Isa in Naka-meguro. The chef won all kinds of pizza contests in Napoli. If you like thin crust, this is the place. avoid the pasta though.

                2 Replies
                1. re: HubrisSonic

                  Thanks for the recommendation -- definitely want to try this place out. I went to Seirinkan in Naka-Meguro a couple weeks ago and thought the pizza was good but not worth the pretentious staff, the price and the Pizza Nazi-esque ordering policies. Also had some crappy overpriced wine although I suppose we only have ourselves to blame for that one.

                  1. re: HubrisSonic

                    Have heard great things about Seirinkan in Naka-Meguro. I thought that Seirinkan chef won the best pizza chef award in Napoli or something like that...? Quite honestly it sounds like something that a lot of pizza chefs are claiming these days here in Japan. But in any case, definitely want to try those places out in Nakameguro.

                  2. Have you tried Sbarro's in Shibuya? According to Michael Scott from the office, it's one his favorite places to eat when in NYC. ;)

                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaKuT3...

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: S_B_Russell

                      Sbarro's? How about McDonald's for a hamburger, then?

                      1. re: Uncle Yabai

                        I pretty much gave up and just go to Costco cuz I can't do a whole pie by myself at pizzakaya

                        1. re: dingaling

                          Then grab a slice at Rocco's. It's 350 yen and you can forget Costco! Sorry, but that ain't pizza.

                          1. re: d7burns

                            Dude, I'm from NYC and that's the closest thing here in Tokyo.

                            1. re: d7burns

                              I just hit Rocco's this past Friday. EXCELLENT. Great NYC-style pizza. Better than Pizzakaya and certainly better than Costco Japan.

                              1. re: gkanai

                                You didn't think the toppings were too tsukunai, or the crust too crispy? I thought definitely good too (went two weeks ago), but those were slight minuses for me. The latter of the two is obviously much more personal preference. I would also put it above Pizzakaya.

                                1. re: kamiosaki

                                  I liked both the toppings and the crust. I'm looking forward to going back but it's out of the way for me so I can only go on the weekend.

                                2. re: gkanai

                                  OK, got it. I will try Rocco's. Only problem its at Oji, which is just so far out of the way......

                                  1. re: yamanote

                                    Tell the owner (gaikokujin-guy) that you heard about it on Chowhound :) He was happy to hear about this discussion.

                                  2. re: gkanai

                                    Glad other people are writing about Rocco's. True NYC style pizza. Who woulda thought we'd enjoy this in Tokyo. Attaching a photo of a slice I had the other week for those who still find it hard to believe....

                                     
                                    1. re: sonik212

                                      I can believe the pizza, but i can't imagine why somebody would open a place in a hole like Oji.

                                      1. re: steamer

                                        You'd be surprised at the amount of restaurant owners in Japan with more culinary skills than business sense.

                                        1. re: steamer

                                          You can pay and pick up a piece of pizza after coming back from Nishi Kawaguchi where you've paid and picked up a piece of something else.

                              2. re: S_B_Russell

                                If have been to the sbarro in Shibuya and had to spit it out. Horrible. Sbarro in USA even better.

                                I hate to say it, but one of the best pizzas available in Tokyo is Costco. OK, so closest Costco is Kawasaki.

                                Price is nice too, 1500 yen for a giant pie.

                              3. Hi Lane.

                                When I'm in Tokyo on business I usually use this great online ordering site called Maishoku ( https://www.maishoku.com/en/ ). They have some really good pizza restaurants and they also have various other cuisines. It's all in english and compared to phone ordering things have always arrived in time, to the right address and with the right items - can really vouch for these guys!

                                -Stephen

                                1. Although I moved here from NYC, I cannot say I'm familiar with NY pizza necessarily. Is that like John's? Or the joints opposite the Port Authority? I used to like going to Arturro's on Houston and Thompson but it was my local so maybe proximity had something to do with it being my favorite.

                                  Anyway, I really like Pizza Strada in Azabu Juban.

                                  http://metropolis.co.jp/dining/dining...

                                  The appetizers are also nice, but the pizza is wonderful. The chef is really friendly and chats with us whenever we go even though our Japanese is not great. I love the pizza here!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: tokyopix

                                    I'll second Strada. It was actually very good, and a very good deal at lunch with the salad and nice tea selection included.

                                    It's definitely not NY Pizza though, more Napoli for sure.

                                    1. re: tokyopix

                                      For what it's worth, having lived in Italy and in New York (and another pizza mecca in CT) before Tokyo, I do really like Pizza Strada. Also in Azabu Juban is my favorite in Tokyo -- Savoy. Both are similar -- smaller, wood-fired, simple, really flavorful and good. Savoy has better antipasti and other food options, but I liked the wine/coffee at Pizza Strada better. Good luck -- all options are better than Pizzakaya!

                                    2. I went to one of the Salvatore Cuomo locations a few years back. The Japanese pizza maker there won a prestigious competition in Italy. Makoto Onishi. He makes Neapolitan style pizza, thin and soft, very delicious. I'm not sure if he still works there, but do some research and find out where he is.

                                      http://www.salvatore.jp/about_pizza/p...

                                      1. There's also Pizzeria e Trattoria da Isa in Nakameguro

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

                                        Haven't been myself though.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: filmnoirfan

                                          I took my family to Da Isa a couple months back. Tasty pizza, but I think the biggest selling point here is the atmosphere. The pizzas I thought were comparable to Salvatore Cuomo. Definitely worth going to though.

                                        2. Can't speak to NY-style pizza, but I know where you can get a good deep-dish, Chicago-style pie:
                                          http://en.devilcraft.jp/menu/

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: centraal

                                            Devilcraft makes a great Chicago style deep dish pizza. I've been there a few times and think they have great beer and pizza.

                                            1. re: centraal

                                              This looks decent judging from the pictures on the website. But if you come to the SF Bay Area, check out Zach's and Patxi's, the latter being my favorite - dare I say I like it more than Chicago based legends like Gino's East. Gasp!

                                            2. Not living in Tokyo, I haven't had as many opportunities to sample the goods as some of you, but here's what I've found thus far..

                                              First, I haven't really been seeking American style pizza in Japan. Instead I prefer Naples style. Da Isa is probably far and away the best pizza I've had in the city. The owner / chef is literally world renown and has one several competitions in Naples, as is evidenced by the trophies in the restaurant. The menu also has quite a few interesting options and appetizers. On the flip side, the restaurant itself often has a line for lunch of up to an hour on the weekends and it isn't exactly romantic or even very nice looking inside or out. This is a place I'd go with friends or family, certainly not for a 'date' or some such. I believe they may take reservations for dinner, but not for lunch.

                                              On the flip side, I really like the quaint environment at Savoy is Azabu Juban. While the menu lacks somewhat (exactly two types of pizzas as I recall), there are some decent appetizers / antipasto. Reservations recommended simply because there are so few seats. I really enjoyed their chilled broccoli appetizer here. I find the pizzas good but a little more oily than Da Isa.

                                              Someone mentioned Salvatore Brothers, which I find to be generally sub par when compared to the above two. Especially the value for dinner at locations such as in XEX Atago Hills and Roppongi Hills I find to be pretty piss poor. They are 'classier' environments, so if you are willing to mortgage quality for that, then this could work for you.

                                              BTW, if anyone knows what that item is named on the Da Isa menu (I don't read Japanese or Italian) which seems to have pasta INSIDE a piadini style crust, I'd like to try it..

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: ainternational

                                                Agree on the menu at Da Isa -- I used to live near there, and I found it amazingly difficult to get a table without advance planning. But was always happy when I did. I haven't seen the pasta inside a crust entree, will look more closely next time. But, I can tell you this -- in Napoli, there is a famous pizza chef named Ernesto Cacialli, who makes a pasta-stuffed crust. And Da Isa has a "pizza fritta da Ernesto" and "da Ernestino" -- so this would logically seem to be likely 1 or 2 versions of what you are looking for.

                                                On Savoy (which remains my favorite in Tokyo), the menu is definitely limited, but there is a hidden 3rd type of pizza that you can only order after you have eaten one of the 2 main options first. Pizza bianca. I remain a margherita fan, but there are friends who love the bianca and eat 2 pizzas to get one.

                                                1. re: VCB133

                                                  Wow, this is a good tip re Savoy! Thanks for that. Is it white sauce based? Wonder where they hide that. Never seen them make it. Does this work if you are sharing pizzas?

                                                  Re Da Isa, thanks for the tip. Will give those two a whirl next time and see what comes out!

                                                  1. re: ainternational

                                                    Recently, I have had the Marguerita at La Strada, and i have to admit I prefer Freys ones !! The pizza is a bit more salty (bianca!), the sauce in the Marguerita of La Strada wasn't in my taste. I have a preference of more sweet tomato taste, and it was a bit acid !!
                                                    After Napule pizzas are expensive, the restaurant location and terrace is quite romantic, and they have good recola salad.
                                                    Savoy, I did like it a lot when it was located in Naka Meguro. Is it the same ?

                                              2. best pizza is seirenkan in nakameguro. guy trained in naples and hand built an oven that fires to 1000 degrees.