Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tanta Papatoria, Monzennakacho

Many's the time I've been to Papatoria, my friends, many's the time. Usually I've gone to the main restaurant in Tomioka 1 as opposed to this second store in Monzennakacho 1. Some would say it's a fine point to differentiate between similar restaurants that are only separated by 3 minutes walk, and some would say 2 stores doesn't make a chain. They'd be right.

The style of both places is the same - sort of 'dim Italian trattoria'. I can't explain this, but the lighting is low in a way that's not romatic but more like the darkness of a Mexican saloon in a western movie. The tiled floor, stucco walls and dark wood furniture extend the theme. The tablecloths are cloth, I think, but of a peculiar consistency that looks cheap to me. One of my main objections to Papatoria in the past, I now realize, is that I felt it was cheap because of the table coverings. Weird.

After someone chef-like served as a few of the dishes last night, it seemed prudent to ask how closely related the two stores are. Turns out that they have different menus, and are up to the whims of the chefs that run each of them. Tanta Papatoria's chef was on good form last night! Being fairly late, we limited our ordering, but San Danielle ham, rucola salad and liver paste were all tasty, as was the bread (which kept coming, two hot pieces at a time, whenever requested). Scallops and eggplant came chopped in chunks and sizzling merrily away in anchovy butter in an escargot dish; the butter was every bit as worthwhile for bread-soaking as your average garlic-parsley butter. Finally, fresh pasta with duck and potato was surprisingly tasty; the pasta was the highlight, consisting of small sheets of pasta rolled into cylinders that were very nicely firm to the tooth, but the duck was stewed to soft, falling-apart goodness.

The wine list is 'carefully chosen', as food writers like to say, by which I mean it's medium size and is mixed between things you've never heard of and famous things (prices aren't bad either - Sassicaia 2001 was Y24,000, barely above retail), and the price range goes from quite low to fairly high, including carafes.

The Papatoria's aren't anything to rhapsodize about, but as neighborhood Italian goes, they're quite tolerable and great for a casual night out.

Fork it over, Luigi!

No comments:

Post a Comment