Jonathan's Worldly Eats: Confessions of a Foodie - Il Piatto - Kyoto, Japan
If my Great Grandma Trotta was reincarnated as a hip, young, handsome Japanese man; his name would be Yoshio Mizutani. Mizutani is the proprietor, executive chef, baker, maître d', entertainer, interior designer, bus boy, and most importantly, genius behind Il Piatto. I discovered this secret gem of a restaurant biking home from Ritsumeikan University late one night. In the instant I passed the little hole in the wall I smelt the most aromatic mixture of garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, red pepper, and fresh baked bread that instantly brought me back to my grandmother's kitchen. The next night I returned to have what I can honestly say was one of the best meals of my life. Most stunning of all is how Mizutani has reinvented old-world Italian classics with a crisp, modernistic, spark. Mizutani has without a doubt attained proficiency in the fine art of Italian cooking and now takes awe-inspiring liberties that are smart, creative, and perfectly executed.
My two favorite aspects of Il Piatto are the grace in which Mizutani single-handedly operates the intimate seven-seat restaurant and the design of the brilliant, ever-changing menu. Il Piatto serves its food in a tapas-style, allowing patrons to experience the restaurant's exceptional variety of flavors, fragrances, and characteristics. The entire menu is easily recommendable, so instead I suggest consulting personally with Chef Mizutani to create a fine-tuned dining itinerary to meet your personal tastes. Highlights not to be missed are Il Piatto's wide range of appetizers, any dish containing veal, Mizutani's handmade pasta (you must ask for the "nama pasuta" 生パスタ), and of course the house special chocolate gelato. Il Piatto also features a selection of mixed drinks that are made with top-shelf liquors, reasonably priced, and generously portioned.
In a town flooded with overpriced, monotonous food, Il Piatto is one of Kyoto's restaurants of distinction. Chef Mizutani beautifully cumulates impressive flavors, an exciting atmosphere, and brilliant entertainment worthy of the title of Kansai's (if not Japan's) Best Italian.
Hayashi Building, First Floor
Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Nishino-kyo, Nishishikagaki-cho 6
Lunch (Monday through Sunday) 11:30 to 1:30
Dinner (Monday through Saturday) 6:00 to 10:00
Reservations strongly recommended
Visit Il Piatto's website at: www.ilpiatto.net
*A version of this article was published on worldlyeats.blogspot.com on July 27, 2009
"Kansai's Best Italian" - that sounds like a real find! Especially with a dinnertime budget of under Y3000!
I'm curious how it stacks up against places like Il Ghiottone and Trattoria Sette, or Ponte Vecchio for that matter, that are several times the price level. Is the quality of the ingredients just as good?
Interesting that you commented on the cocktail list though. People writing about Italian restaurants often at least mention the wine list, but so often neglect the cocktails.
re: Robb S
You're a hard man! Those were top-shelf cocktails.
I went to Il Ghiottone in Tokyo several years ago and found it uninspiring. I know the bento review is positive, but do you like it? I guess there's this in its favor: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6770...
In the spirit of sharing out-of-the-way, 1-man Italian restaurants, I like Table d'Hote in Kayabacho. I'll include my own self-serving link as follows:
I thought Il Ghiottone was quite entertaining, and I can definitely see the Kyoto influences in the kitchen. The preparations can be elaborate, and they certainly like their exotic ingredients. They make very good use of vegetables. The staff took pains to describe every dish in minute detail. Overall they seemed to be working hard, and I enjoyed some very original dishes.