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Japan Board is dead, lets discuss Pizza

lost squirrel Jul 10, 2008 09:42 PM

I'm heading (tentatively) to Pizzakaya tonight for dinner and beers. I've never been, but have heard good things. A co-worker from the western US tells me that the Santa Fe pizza is to die for.

Anyone have a favorite delivery service? I usually stick with Salvatore Cuomo.

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    prasantrin RE: lost squirrel Jul 11, 2008 05:38 AM

    I assume you're talking Tokyo?

    In the Kobe area (Nishinomiya, specifically), I really like Fontegara. Neapolitan-style pizza at its best! (except the bismark--that one kind of sucks)

    2 Replies
    1. re: prasantrin
      MeAndroo RE: prasantrin Jul 14, 2008 09:44 AM

      Good to know. I'm moving to Hyogo-ken in about 2 weeks and am always on the lookout for food recs.

      Is there a pizza at Fontegara you prefer above the others?

      1. re: MeAndroo
        prasantrin RE: MeAndroo Jul 14, 2008 08:03 PM

        I usually get the half margherita and half napolitana (anchovies and olives--maybe capers, too, but I can't remember). They use really good olives (marinated in oil, not the canned crap). I really love the chile oil they have at the tables, though. I think I like the chile oil more than the pizza.

        It's closest to Kurakuenguchi Station on the Hankyu line, but you can get off at Shukugawa Station and walk 10-ish minutes up the hill if you don't want to bother with the transfer (which is very easy, but the walk is nice). http://www1.odn.ne.jp/fontegara/

    2. kamiosaki RE: lost squirrel Jul 11, 2008 07:31 AM

      Once in a while we get SalC... That 4000 yen pizza/pasta/salad/side/delivered deal they have is pretty good when we don't feel like doing anything but sitting our butts down on the couch. The only other one that is tolerable around this area is Pizza Hut. The rest (Domino's, Strawberry Cones, Pizza-La) are disasters IMO. I had heard from a coworker that Pizzakaya was pretty good too but haven't been there. One place we have been dying to try is Pizza Mia in Kojimachi.

      What I wouldn't do for a couple of Hoboken-size slices sometimes....

      5 Replies
      1. re: kamiosaki
        exilekiss RE: kamiosaki Jul 12, 2008 06:00 AM

        But you get delicious, great Ramen, Yakitori and cool Izakayas seemingly on every block. I'd trade some Pizza for that any day (I can't wait to go back to Japan soon). (^_~)

        1. re: kamiosaki
          lost squirrel RE: kamiosaki Jul 13, 2008 08:14 PM

          I know that deal, I've done it myself a few times.

          As for Pizzakaya, it's definitely good. The pepperoni is imported from the US and it made my day. My face lit up like a christmas tree as soon as I tasted it. Pepperoni has always been my favorite pizza growing up, and to taste it again after a few years hiatus was nice.

          The crust is, from what I can gather, a west coast US style. I'm more philadelphia/NYC/DC in my pizza crust desires but it was good nonetheless. I'll definitely be back for more pepperoni pizza sometime soon.

          1. re: kamiosaki
            kamiosaki RE: kamiosaki Mar 12, 2010 05:12 PM

            Well we had a couple Domino's Brooklyn Pizzas last night and I have to say that (for Domino's) they were good. In the oven for 30 secs more and they might have started to approach the Sal. L = 36cm. We got the regular with meat and the one with garlic. Crust thickness in between Sal's and the regular Domino's. Wonder how long these things have been on the menu in Japan , also they appear to only be available via internet order, not phone.

            1. re: kamiosaki
              prasantrin RE: kamiosaki Mar 13, 2010 02:14 AM

              They've been available online for a few months, I think. I do recall seeing them as early as December or January, but I've not tried them.

              What's Sal's? A Brooklyn pizzeria?

              Odd that you can't order them by phone (I only order by internet, so I never noticed that you couldn't order them any other way).

              1. re: prasantrin
                kamiosaki RE: prasantrin Mar 13, 2010 03:23 AM

                Sal = Salvatore Cuomo

          2. E Eto RE: lost squirrel Jul 12, 2008 06:48 AM

            There seems to be a bifurcation of pizza genres in Japan. I remember when the first Shakey's (an LA chain) opened in Tokyo in the late 70s or early 80s. I think the delivery/fast-food style pizza was modelled on American chains, as well as the "pizza-to-appeal-to-local-tastes" style with toppings like corn and mayonnaise. It seems that many of today's adults in Japan came of age eating this style of pizza, which most likely maintains its popularity and I'm sure that, like in the US, it has a kid-friendly appeal that is pleasing susequent generations of Japanese. I could be wrong, but I think most izakaya pizzas will fall under this genre of pizza.

            At some point later, the Japanese developed an obsession for authentic Neopolitan pizza (along with all things Italian). This obsession created a place for serious sit-down (and moderately expensive) pizzerias following every conceivable detail to recreate Neopolitan pizza in Japan. I've read that Japan has the most pizzerias outside of Italy that is certified by the Verace Pizza Nepoletana (the certification organization from Napoli). So there are some very serious pizzerias in Tokyo and Japan in general. Probably better than what we get in most areas of the US (and I include NYC in this). This is consistent with my experience of having some very good pizza in Japan.

            So here's the Tabelog ranking page for pizzerias in Tokyo. Check some out and report back and let us know if they're as good as the users seem to think.

            And here's the website for the Associazione Verace Pizza Napolitana, where I'm sure there's a way to find the certified pizzerias.

            1. m
              masissoyo RE: lost squirrel Sep 7, 2008 06:32 AM

              it definitely isn't "authentic" at all, but I love PizzaLa's ebimayo pizza (prawn & mayonaise). PizzaLa's a delivery place that is about anywhere. They have a website if you want to find the store nearest to you.

              3 Replies
              1. re: masissoyo
                lost squirrel RE: masissoyo Sep 7, 2008 08:14 PM

                I like PizzaLa as well, they have a new coarse ground sausage pie I like.

                Pizzeria 1830 in Nogizaka is pretty good too. Went for the first time last weekend and enjoyed the spicy salami pizza. My dining companions really liked the white pizza they had as well.

                1. re: lost squirrel
                  taryn RE: lost squirrel Sep 7, 2008 10:58 PM

                  yeah we had the white pie with shrimp, marscapone and mushrooms. it was good though sloppy and wet. before i had the sausage and mixed mushroom pie, which was very tasty. had pizzakaya delivered on saturday night and was not impressed. everything came over cooked, dried out and cold. the meatballs were burnt to the tray! hmmm, maybe better to eat in the store? the wings came on top of shredded lettuce and must have been put on the lettuce hot because it was wilted and stuck in the wing sauce, so we had to pick out the lettuce on each wing before eating. we ended up throwing a lot of it away!

                2. re: masissoyo
                  Asomaniac RE: masissoyo Sep 17, 2008 01:59 AM

                  I know that my opinion is completely irrational as obviously whatever tastes good is good, but I have always thought that eating pizza with mayonnaise on it deprives (or should deprive) a person of any chance to go to heaven. Mayonnaise does not belong on pizza, it is just wrong. As is, while we're at it, so-called "deep-pan". Pizza needs to have a crisp, satisfying base, otherwise it is an abomination which should be called something else, but not "pizza".

                  Ahh, that felt good. Irrational rants are strangely liberating.

                  I think that of the places which do home delivery, Salvatore is fine (ignoring the occasional puddles or semi-lakes of oil on their pizzas). I am not enthusiastic about most pizza delivery joints in Tokyo as they tend to sell American style pizza which I don't particularly enjoy. And nobody seems to do proper Calzone.

                3. w
                  wakaba RE: lost squirrel Sep 14, 2008 06:57 PM

                  Salvatore Cuomo is my fave too--but for a decent lunch set with margherita pizza, the Italian place in Yotsuya Atre is also pretty good. and they serve it with a little bottle of chili oil if you like a little spice.

                  i'm anit-mayonnaise so i boycott the other delivery places on principle...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: wakaba
                    lost squirrel RE: wakaba Sep 15, 2008 08:32 PM

                    Just 6 or 7 minutes down the road (towards Yot 3-chome), there is a Salvatore Cuomo.

                  2. u
                    Uncle Yabai RE: lost squirrel Sep 17, 2008 01:18 AM

                    I like traditional stuff, and some great places in Tokyo for that. Napule is highly regarded by the natives, but I'm not a big fan. Much prefer Partenope, either in Hiroo or in Ebisu. There used to be a little place in Aoyama called Il Solito Posto, but unfortunately it closed and I don't know if it reopened or where. Anybody know? It was pretty good basic Italian fare, certified by Vera Pizza Napoletana and all. I also like Savoy in Azabu Juban, and the original Savoy in Shirokanedai, but it has changed names, haven't been since the change (same owner, though). Another surprise (would never expect it, but really quite good) is Plates in Hiroo shotengai. They have a brick oven, in which they also make some mean rotisserie chicken.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Uncle Yabai
                      Asomaniac RE: Uncle Yabai Sep 17, 2008 01:43 AM

                      Uncle, do you know "Vacanza", which is almost opposite the Ebisu Partenope (opposite side of the same street, a little further down away from the station). Certainly nothing highbrow at all, but I really like it. Unpretentious little place, they have one table outside, which is great when it rains (they put a kind of see-through plastic tent around it, so you can hear the soothing sound of the rain without getting wet, very cosy). Inside it can be a bit cramped and too smoky.

                      They do some very good simple Italian country side fare (their home made sausages are excellent), very good risotto and beef shin / mushroom parpadelle, and also have a great pizza oven and produce some decent (if not world beating) pizzas. Wine list is very humane price-wise, I think the most expensive item is 7,000, most bottles are around 3,000.

                      1. re: Asomaniac
                        Uncle Yabai RE: Asomaniac Sep 17, 2008 02:08 AM

                        No, did not know about Vacanza, but on the list it goes. Maybe for the Tokyo Chowhound meet. Sounds like Piccolo Grande in Azabu Juban, which I like.

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                      prasantrin RE: lost squirrel May 5, 2009 06:37 PM

                      I'm on the search for the best Neapolitan-style pizza. My favourite is a place called Fontegara in Nishinomiya, Hyogo so I use their pizza as my benchmark.

                      Just before my trip to Tokyo, I went to Il Sole Rosso in Shinsaibashi, Osaka. They're certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, whereas Fontegara is not, so I expected some good pizza. I was disappointed. The crust was tough, and while the outer edges were crispy, the inner crust was soggy from the outset. Flavour was OK, but nothing special.

                      Then I went to Tokyo. My very first stop was La Piccola Tavola near Eifukucho Station. Excellent crust! I think mine may have been a little underdone, but aside from that, the crust was perfect. It made an audible crunch when you bit into it, but it had a nice tender chew to it. I thought the sauce was a little insipid, however, and I didn't like the way anchovies were applied. They don't use whole anchovies, but some kind of anchovy sauce or puree that they use a squeeze bottle to apply in two concentric circles, so the anchovy flavour is very very watered down and not evenly distributed. They use some very nice mozzarella on their pizza, though. Not too much, but just enough so you can taste it. I'd return to Tavola. They had a pizza with proscuitto that looked outstanding, and they had several other pizzas I think would be worth trying, too. Plus the host seating people was pretty cute! A little eye candy certainly never spoiled anyone's lunch.

                      Then yesterday, I went to Napule at Tokyo Midtown. I arrived before 11, thinking I'd just wait in line until they opened, but it doesn't quite work that way at Midtown. There's a gate separating the area of the restaurants, and that gate doesn't open until 11. That means a slew of people are standing around, waiting, so although I was one of the first people to arrive at Midtown, the mad dash (literally) left me in about 10th place by the time we actually formed a line in front of the restaurant. Of course there were probably 20 other parties behind me (at opening), so I didn't feel too bad.

                      As for the pizza. . . the crust was soft and chewy, not tough, but it had no crispiness to it. The toppings on the Romana were rather dull except they leave their anchovies in one huge piece, so instead of getting little pops of anchovy flavour here and there, you get a mouthful of pure anchovy. I didn't like that, nor did I like the cheese they used. I got a half-and-half with Romana on one half, and the other half had spicy salami (and maybe some speck?) and an egg yolk, but no cheese. I liked this half much better, though it was quite salty.

                      Napule is definitely popular, but is that popularity well-deserved? I guess it depends on the person, but I won't be going back unless I happen to be in the neighbourhood and there's no line. They do make a nice chile oil, but Fontegara's is better.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: prasantrin
                        Uncle Yabai RE: prasantrin May 5, 2009 09:03 PM

                        I never quite figured out what the fascination is with Napule. Sure, it is good pizza, but there is better out there. I chalk it up to the ways of the Japanese. Whenever I see a line of people outside a store or a restaurant, my assumptions are either that (a) this place is worth it for whatever it sells, or (b) why would anybody wait in line for this? No in between. Classic examples are the Krispy Kreme and the Coldstone Creamery, with the latter being a notably egregious example.

                        Back on topic, my favorite is Savoy in Azabu Juban, or Seirinkan in Shirokane. Also partial to Partenope in Hiroo or Ebisu. Plates in Hiroo also makes a very good pizza, and their rotisserie chicken is very succulent.

                        1. re: Uncle Yabai
                          prasantrin RE: Uncle Yabai May 6, 2009 12:35 AM

                          Do all your favourite pizza places make Neapolitan-style pizza? I can add them to my list for my next visit. I found Tavola though the VPN website, but I didn't have time to go through all the Tokyo listings.

                          Bonus points for places that will do a pizza with anchovies, olives and capers and has excellent spicy chile oil. I think I like the chile oil more than I like the pizza!

                          1. re: Uncle Yabai
                            jem589 RE: Uncle Yabai May 6, 2009 12:59 AM

                            Re: lines, how about the baum kuchen places? I dunno what it's called, but there's one with a branch in Yaesu Daimaru and also in Ginza Matsuzakaya (I think; the one south of the crossing is Matsuzakaya right? I always get confused with matsuya), and inevitably there's a big line.

                            Re: pizza:
                            +1 Savoy in Juban. I've heard that you can get a second pizza for only Y500 at lunch (once you finish the first).
                            Baggio in Roppongi?! Almost as good as Savoy, more interesting toppings, nice atmosphere. If you go through the building just to the right of Meiji-ya and out their loading dock, then turn right, it'll be right there (second floor).


                            1. re: jem589
                              Uncle Yabai RE: jem589 May 6, 2009 01:04 AM

                              Yes, Baggio is nice, forgot to add to the list. I do favor Neapolitan-style pizza, I used to live in a small town in Italy called Merano, and that's what I use as the standard.

                              Yea, I've seen the lines at those cake places, called Teriya or something like that. Don't know what the attraction is. Another one is the karintou shop in the Gran Sta in Tokyo station. Always a line, don't know what the big deal is, I usually get my karintou at a little shop in Yushima run by a mother-daughter pair, amazing stuff.

                              1. re: Uncle Yabai
                                BaronDestructo RE: Uncle Yabai Aug 3, 2009 07:34 AM

                                Hey All,

                                A lot of interesting suggestions here, but is there one place (or a couple of places) considered tops on both ends of the scale - hole in the wall comfort vs. gourmet pizza? I remember strolling through Ginza on my last trip and passing several Italian eateries that had photos of their chefs and write-ups on their respective pizza-making prowess. Are you likely to find a place that serves up pizza with upscale toppings like foie gras or truffles? If so, where?

                                I know, I know. With my ever-expanding list of restaurants-to-visit, I'm simply asking for trouble adding pizzerias to the list but it just struck me that I've been blown away by the Japanese take on French desserts so why not check out their riff on an Italian specialty...

                                1. re: BaronDestructo
                                  Ninisix RE: BaronDestructo Aug 9, 2009 08:38 PM

                                  Except the "salvatore cuomo" in Ginza, is there some other pizza near Ginza that worth the challenge... Thanks

                          2. re: prasantrin
                            Jrim RE: prasantrin Feb 14, 2010 11:51 PM

                            I used to go to Esse Due in Akasaka all the time when I worked in the area (http://www.esse-2.com/). Pizzeria GG in Higashi-Nakano is also good, not to mention cheap as chips (http://sanbancho.jp/franchise/pizzeri...).

                            1. re: Jrim
                              lost squirrel RE: Jrim Feb 15, 2010 06:23 PM

                              Esse Due is incredibly close to my house, how is the food? I haven't tried yet. Last week I went to Pizzeria 1830 for some mushroom and sausage pie and it was pretty great.

                              1. re: lost squirrel
                                Jrim RE: lost squirrel Feb 16, 2010 09:48 PM

                                I've only ever been there for lunch, but the pizza was the real deal. Proper coffee at the end of the meal, too, which is something far too many places skimp on.

                                Actually, I just had lunch at a new place in Nakameguro run by Hisanori Yamamoto, who used to work at Napule. Well worth checking out: http://www.da-isa.jp/

                                1. re: Jrim
                                  Lucil RE: Jrim Mar 6, 2010 10:06 AM

                                  just found out about it too, hows the pizza there?? looks good from the pictures

                          3. p
                            prasantrin RE: lost squirrel Feb 5, 2010 01:49 PM

                            About Savoy in Azabu Juban, do they only have two types of pizza? Their website only has Margherita and Marinara listed.

                            And are reservations necessary?

                            Are reservations needed for Baggio? I'm trying to decide between the two.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: prasantrin
                              Uncle Yabai RE: prasantrin Feb 5, 2010 04:33 PM

                              Right, Margherita or Marinara, that's it. They have a small menu of other stuff, but I've never eaten it. I think they are both very good, with an edge to Savoy on the pizza. The reason for this is that Savoy is literally a counter with 8 seats around a makeshift wood-fired oven, where the pizza master does nothing but pizza, while Baggio is a full-service restaurant serving many other (pretty good and basic) Italian dishes.

                              I've never been in Baggio when it was reservations-needed full, but I have seen big waits at Savoy. However, last time I was there, the pizza boss said that business was down quite a bit, since a lot of the white water buffalo that used to live in Azabu Juban have vanished, either been shipped back to their holding pens in the West or decamped for more fruitful pastures, mainly Hong Kong and China. So you may not need a reservation, especially earlier in the evening or on a weekday.

                              1. re: Uncle Yabai
                                prasantrin RE: Uncle Yabai Feb 5, 2010 11:59 PM

                                Hmmmm. . .In the pictures I've seen, Savoy looks like it has a better crust, but the chance to have one last bismarck at Baggio beckons me. I have not had a good bismarck in years, and finally gave up on trying them at places. Baggio's looks pretty good, though.

                                I'm going to have to give this some serious thought!

                                1. re: Uncle Yabai
                                  gkanai RE: Uncle Yabai Feb 7, 2010 10:12 PM

                                  "a lot of the white water buffalo that used to live in Azabu Juban have vanished,"

                                  LOL! Well leaves more pizza for those of us who eke a living out of what's left :)

                                2. re: prasantrin
                                  gkanai RE: prasantrin Feb 7, 2010 10:11 PM

                                  I live right nearby Savoy so we enjoy takeout from there (much better than takeout pizza anywhere else.) Yes, only 2 types. I don't remember them taking reservations but you could call to ask. Excellent pizza. I prefer the margherita. The other things on the menu are good, simple plates of italian ham or arugula salad. Nothing fancy, just quality ingredients. Good olives too.

                                  1. re: prasantrin
                                    gkanai RE: prasantrin Feb 7, 2010 10:30 PM

                                    Oh! One other thought: you might want to visit Eataly in Daikanyama, which has a very good restaurant AND the best stock of Italian foods in Tokyo. They do pizzas, pastas, grilled foods, and their own bread, and good espresso, etc.


                                  2. kamiosaki RE: lost squirrel Mar 6, 2010 05:21 PM

                                    Was in Ningyocho yesterday and walked by the Salvatore Cuomo Bar there - they had a tabehodai pizza/pasta lunch for ~1400 yen. I don't remember any of Sal's places having all-you-can-eat until now. Wonder if it is even close to regular quality. Reasonably sure I could get my money's worth in that place.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: kamiosaki
                                      lost squirrel RE: kamiosaki Mar 7, 2010 09:27 PM

                                      Tabehoudai pizza? Salvatore to boot?
                                      I could do some serious damage there.

                                      1. re: lost squirrel
                                        kamiosaki RE: lost squirrel Mar 8, 2010 12:07 AM

                                        (not my blog)


                                        The price is 1400 something now though. That's still a steal. I'm just waiting for someone to tell me what the catch is.

                                      2. re: kamiosaki
                                        deraumai RE: kamiosaki Mar 15, 2010 11:39 PM

                                        I know most of the posters and readers are concerned with the Tokyo metro, but I'll throw in the Nagoya news on this too... At the Fushimi branch of Salvatore Cuomo they have an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for ¥1000. It's only on weekdays and drink bar is an additional ¥200. The pizzas come out and disappear quickly, very little cheese on any of them. There was also a small salad bar and a few other side dishes like rosemary roasted squash and Japanese nimono. 3 or 4 pastas and a risotto or two plus yogurt with a ribbon of fruit sauce for "dessert". Kakuozan Salvatore also started some sort of lunch buffet, but it appears to be one pizza/person and then a buffet of salads and sides.

                                      3. p
                                        prasantrin RE: lost squirrel Mar 16, 2010 12:11 AM

                                        I'll add another non-Tokyo place.

                                        Pizzeria Pancia Piena has very good Neapolitan-style pizza, and it's also English-speaker friendly if you don't speak Japanese. Very friendly, personable service. The pizza is very good, but they use a lot of fresh mozzarella which leaves a pool of water in the center. It's still good, even with a soggy crust.

                                        They don't have chili oil at the table, but if you ask for it they'll bring you some in a little cup. It's nice and hot, and really brings the pizza to another level.

                                        It's in Ikeda City, which isn't the most convenient place (maybe 20 minutes by express train from Umeda), but it's close to the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (which is great fun if you want to make your own instant ramen from scratch!) if you want to combine the two. Reservations are a must, though, or you will face a long wait if you get in at all (even if you go at opening time).


                                        1. s
                                          sonik212 RE: lost squirrel Jan 18, 2011 06:35 PM

                                          Theres plenty of good pizza here in Japan, but if you are looking for a slice of a "New York" style pizza in a place that sells by the slice and feels just like a real NY pizza place head over to Rocco's New York style pizza place in Oji, Tokyo. It's a couple minutes walk from Oji station.
                                          Pizza by the slice for about 350 yen!!! Any New Yorker craving pizza from home has got to check it out at least once.

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