Friday, January 29, 2010

Vinorio, Ginza

Dinner with the Swans was supposed to be a fairly quick one, followed by live music. Instead it stretched out a bit and became the main event of the evening - partly our inability to order decisively, partly the speed of service. If you were doing nothing of an evening except dining, I would say this is a very nice choice among the throngs of mid-level Italian in Ginza - good cooking at OK prices as opposed to the mediocre cooking at similar prices that prevails in the more obvious locations. I'm also fond of the relatively quieter location on the east side of Ginza 6, near the post office (the building right next to Murase, actually).

The restaurant's logo is orange, and the interior decor is similarly warm and yellowish - which permeates the pictures. It's small, about 20 seats at most, including the counter facing the kitchen. You're looking at half the restaurant in the picture at left; imagine me sitting at a 4-top, with a 2 to my right, taking pictures with my old camera (hence the blurritude), and that's all the tables other than the counter. But pleasant, and the service is quick and bright as well.

Starters and pastas are Y1600-1800 (plus service charge; it's a Tokyo Italian restaurant after all), meaty mains are more expensive (Y3000+) but seem to feature enough volume to justify themselves. And they're very willing to split things too, which is a feature I've only recently started to appreciate. It's fun to order 2 things each but have it presented as a series of 4 small courses. In this case, we got 3 dishes per couple, splitting each. Here's a half-portion of white beans and scallops, which was very good. Soft beans, not-overcooked scallops.

I neglected to take a picture of the mushroom soup with sliced black truffle, but I enjoyed it. The gap between the beans above and the soup was awfully long; the waitress attributed it to our erratic ordering pattern and also to general chaos in the kitchen, which is undermanned to accomodate the restaurant when full (as it was).

At left, a pasta whose name I've forgotten but whose thickness and coverage by wild boar stew I clearly remember. Good flavor, excessive use of the chewy bits of the boar. Still worthwhile.

The wine list starts in reasonable territory and heads predictably north, but it least it starts well. There are a few other novelties, like house-made limoncello. I didn't ask if they imported lemons from Sicily and did this right, but it's Japan and I wouldn't be surprised.

Right then, keep this in mind for a decent night out. I think you'll like it in a 'good treatments of simple things' sort of way, which is after all what we usually want from our Italians.

Also note the 'East' branch, just a few blocks away.

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