Thursday, September 25, 2008

Il Pacioccone, Aoyama

A November 2009 update from my September 2008 post below: having gone for dinner in the company of others, I still recommend this place. While we had some mussels (fresh, plump), a caprese (cheese a little too solid, but still good), and a bagna cauda (very good balance of anchovies and garlic but somewhat limited supply of vegetables), the highlight was again the sausage. In this case seasonal wild boar, bearing every sign of being encased in a natural boar or sheep-intestine casing. Perfectly-spiced, meat ground to the right consistency, stewed in tomato sauce, with some vegetables...excellent. It was heaving full on a Friday night, but the staff still found time to offer the house focaccia at regular intervals.
Roppongi Dori can look like a wasteland sometimes - the weird and inhospitable stretch between Nishi Azabu and Shibuya. I wandered around and found myself there at lunch time after a meeting in Shibuya, and as I wandered I wondered where to eat.

I've actually been there before, on foot, oddly enough. Right around the corner from Body and Soul were two places, one basement French (Tastevin, closed at lunch) and another Italian, which my friend had been to for lunch. Once I remembered that, I had it in mind as a goal, seeing as I'm unlikely to be in that neighborhood ever again. Unless I mysteriously end up working at Coke, which is across the street.

Il Pacioccone isn't a very hospitable name to say, and the staff on the ground floor seemed a little puzzled at a single foreigner dropping by for lunch. Once I got upstairs to the dining room, everything turned around nicely. It was busy, crowded, and decorated in a delightfully...tacky faux-Italiante Rennaissance neo-villa style. Or something. But there were lots of wine bottles, italian signs (like the emergency exit! Is that really up to code?), and other trappings of the mother country.

I get the feeling that most people go there for lunch and have a pizza or pasta (Y1050 incl. coffee and a tiny faux-Italianate Rennaissance slice of chocolate cake with fresh cream). When I ordered a carpaccio (Y1050) and the daily main (sausages, Y1500), the staff started treating me like I was there to eat seriously, not offend them by charging through a pizza and leaving. The chef brought out a massive, freshly-baked focaccia, crusted with salt and including a few tasty fried onions. I stared at it until he cut it and brought a big plate over to me. Unsure of what to do (and basically eager to take the whole plate and thank him), I just stared until he said "Go ahead, take 2. Or 3. Whatever!"

Carpaccio was definitely wagyu as advertised. No mistaking the taste of that fat...somehow it was a bit tough though (in another nice move, another waiter brought me a serrated knife after seeing me try to cut the meat with a normal knife). Sausages were great! So obviously home-made, with a strong pork taste and tons of herbs. They came with these potatoes, wedges deep-fried with rosemary. I think there's a name for that. I feel like I read about it one time.

Dessert - nothing special. I'll try not to go faux-Italianate this time. Coffee - good espresso. Really all that was missing from this experience was a bottle of Chianti and an afternoon off...

I walked up from Shibuya, and then back to Roppongi Hills, so in theory it's within range. But it's about 10 minutes from Nishi Azabu crossing, so really not practical either way. Let your conscience be your guide.
That's amore! There's nothing like a gay tarantella, don't you think?

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