Today's venue is anything but indiscriminately selected. I've probably tried to get in 3 or 4 times, sometimes with specific intent and sometimes just as a result of being rejected by other places on Shin Maru 5. Today specific intent paid off (after a short wait to clear and set a table) and Pon and I were rewarded with an excellent Italian lunch (her new favorite in the entire Otemachi area, and as I'm always saying, she IS the most discriminating of the regular team members). This was a good way to celebrate the relaxation of the no-repeat dining restriction now that I've hit 6 months without visiting the same place twice!
DF goes for trattoria ambiance and largely achieves it. The walls are stucco, the floor is tile, the furniture is woody, dark and rustic, and the servers are all dressed in black (OK, that's not quite in keeping, but who knows what actual Italians would wear in an actual Italy? Surely I don't actually know. There are plentiful grappa bottles as well, which is something I want to love but can't.
There's no cheap option here. Lunch menus start at Y1800, with some sensible upcharge options (Chez Tomo take note - Y500 to add a healthy portion of crab to your pasta is perfectly acceptable). While we of course had this starter-pasta/pizza-dessert-coffee option, replacing pasta with meat (and upgrading dessert?) for Y1000 might be worth it.
Things are pretty serious - 3 starter options are a regular salad (who gets that?!), a prosciutto salad (which I only skipped because it said '19 month ham' and I had a feeling, not knowing about ham aging, that I was being marketed to) and a mixed appetizer. Two mixed appetizer plates later, we were happy. A small central salad ringed with various Italianate items - a ball of mozzarella, slices of cold cuts, some stewed onions and tomatoes, a piece of quiche, and two slices of lovely sashimi (ooooh, that's crudo, isn't it? Cultured, aren't we?) - and all of them fresh, delicious and happy-making.
The staff asked if we wanted our mains in sequence, to share, and we said yes...but then they got worried. To be fair, I think this was a standard question to all business-y looking tables: "How much time do you have? Do we need to rush to make sure you get out in time?" and that's a good thing. We weren't rushed, but they still brought our pizza and pasta at the same time. Ah well; the table was crowded, but abundance is a good thing. Abondanza!
They have two pizzas for lunch - margherita or bianco (and maybe the bianco is del giorno or something). They also offer the lovely try-em-all half and half option, so we could sample both the margherita (tolerable; decent ingredients, decent cooking, medium overall satisfaction despite the real Italian oven up the front) and the ruccola-and-shrimp bianco (ruccola pizzas are weird to me, including the ruccola and prosciutto ones, and this was no exception but was still decent). Not that that was bad, but the pasta was a touch better to my mind - lasagna! I've been craving lasagna to the point that I'm thinking of making it myself. This didn't do anything to foreshorten those cravings (since I was thinking of making the noodles and ricotta at home, which would be a pretty darn luxurious version), but it was nice. Somehow, Japanese places manage to pack lasagna with a lotta meat. This was no exception, and the relatively small quantity of noodle had been cooked into ephemeral transendence, by which I mean you couldn't taste it much. Still, served sizzling in a small crock, topped with lots of cheese, this was as comforting as a lasagna oughta be.
Dessert was milk gelato with rasperries in it. Good, if you like gelato (and I don't mean that sarcastically; it's a very basic texture and flavor thing when you just make it with milk). Coffees were top-class by Japanese standards. We left stuffed and very happy - as mentioned before, this has miraculously shot to the top of Pon's Otemachi ranking. I'm not sure what's #2. Now that I've been through 6 months, I should probably make a top 10 list, at the very least. Who has the time to wade through all this historic crap looking for recs?!
Molto bene! Bravo! Mortadella!