Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Taverna Gustavino, Yaesu

Folks, there's a whole world out there in Tokyo dining. Get out there and check it out, OK? I'm just pensive about it today because I'm getting near 1000 blog posts but have barely scratched the surface.
The surface scratching for today was supposed to be this little bistro that I walked past last week, down in Kyobashi (on one of those "go somewhere that the map doesn't yet include" days). Well, contrary to the business card, they're closed. More cruising around ensued, during which time I got fixated on pasta, and Gustavino happened. Just a pleasant little Italian place on the south side of Yaesu - and it happens to have good scores on Tabelog, which I think showed in the cooking.
Things were surprisingly busy inside, considering it was already after 1, with a lot of people rotating through the counter. With all the offices in the area, they must get busy at night. That ham-clamp on the counter is a bit too new and unused-looking. They've gotta get a pig leg in and get the grease flowing.
Lunch menus are limited to 3 pastas and one soup (minestrone, actually, which reminds me of this time I was at l'Unico in Balmain (part of Sydney's tough inner-west) and saw an old Australian guy trying to get a young Chinese girl to go to bed with him on vague promises that he'd help her get a visa. He was sitting way too close to her, on the same side of a 4-person table. That was creepy in itself, but he was also ordering for her. For some reason I've never forgotten how he disregarded the menu and asked the waiter "Do you have a minestrone soup?" Maybe the creepiness and redundancy fixed it in my mind. And in case you're wondering, I only said that Balmain is 'part of Sydney's tough inner-west' because I was thinking of a capsule biography I read one time in a travel article where the writer mentioned that the subject had grown up in the 'tough housing projects on Tokyo's east side'. A good example of the power of cliche to bite one in the ass; the toughest thing about those 'projects' is that they're a little far from the station.). By the way, small salad. And mediocre house-made bread. On a board.
I ordered the octopus ragu just to show the skeptical waiter that I could read the menu. No, I lie, I wanted to eat octopus in cream sauce. This was very tasty, although I think I might just have been in the mood for cream sauce on penne without realizing it. You can see that the octopus is largely 'butsu', i.e., 'funny bits' like diced-up suckers. This gives it texture, but I think also lets them save the meatier part for dinner. Spinach completes the scene.
It's been ages since my last rant about Italian restaurants in Japan (bread charge, water charge, cover charge, blah blah), so take it as a gentle reminder of those happy days of complaint when I say this was on the small side. Still, at Y1000 for the pasta and salad (Y200 for super-size) there's no particular room to complain. This might well be a good choice for dinner, if one was inclined to go to mid-level Italian places for dinner.

1 comment:

  1. That was indeed creepy, what happened at Balmain...:(((