Friday, April 22, 2011

Pizzeria Il Tamburello, Kodenmacho (日本橋堀留町)

DISCLOSURE: I was comped Y300 on the bill for this meal.
ANOTHER DISCLOSURE: I wish people would give me free meals. What am I doing wrong? Willing to write for food, OK?

While I took this picture on a different day, it's something I've been seeing a lot lately on the way over to Nihonbashi Muromachi. The Bank of Japan and the Mandarin Oriental tower are bordered by flowering shrubs (which are above eye level). Today's weather was kinda crap; at least it hasn't started raining yet.

Because I came up with a craving for pizza, and it turned out that Tabelog's #6 recommendation in Tokyo (out of 808) was within biking distance (for your reference, da Ise is #13 today. Baggio is #21, yay Baggio! and Seirinkan is #37.). Off I went, to Muromachi and then beyond, to find a short line and a CLOSED sign on the door of Il Tamburello (ahhhh, I just realized why they have miniature tambourines on the counters). They're open until 2 with a last order at 1:30...but after they sell out the 45 or so crusts they make in the morning, thassit. I musta got lucky, because two of those crusts went down me gullet, and I was the last person outta the shop.

Lunch is basically Y1000 unless you do something bad. It starts with some kinda salad, and today the salad was soup. There was just enough in here to make it a little interesting - a touch of bacon, a grate of cheese, a sprinkle of oil. As far as throwaway starters in pizza places, this was good. Except the moody lighting.

Otsubo san (not pictued) is just the kind of ultra-serious pizza maker you would expect to find in a top pizza place. He studied in Naples, and his oven is burning wood orangely. I didn't see him smile once until the end of my lunch, when we started talking a little. The intensity came right through the smile as he asked me rapid-fire questions about country, family, and radiation, diagnosed my Japanese ability, and gave up trying to talk to me. But he smiled a little, and anyway, it's the pizza I'm interested in. Four varities at lunch; I stopped listening when I heard the daily special had corn on it. When in Napoli, might as well start with the basics.

Margherita explosion! No, not that exciting. In fact, there wasn't an offer of buffalo mozz on the menu today (sporadically available? at Y400), but the cheese was fine, the sauce was spanking fresh, and the crust was momentous. Epic? Seriously, I hope you've had crust like this. I don't love thin pizza, but this is why you eat it - the crust is like really delicious bread, chewy, savory, burned in places - and the toppings are a bonus.

As hinted above, I did a bad bad thing that increased the cost of lunch. It seems like only last night that I was lamenting my recent inability to lose weight. Now all I'm lamenting is that I didn't realize until too late that these jars of pine, corn, and hazel nuts were actually packed in honey. As soon as I picked one up, I almost cried, because I knew they were meant to go on

my bad thing, the second pizza, the 4-cheese (whose Y300 upcharge was comped, and whose lighting is really sub-par). Good heavens, this was a tasty pizza. Great ricotta, great gorgonzola, the same great crust, pure greatness. Lacking in honey. Regrets...

This vanilla panna cotta with an alcoholic berry syrup looks like a throwaway and was awesome. I don't like panna cotta either. But I do like restaurants that do their one thing to perfection, and that's all that's going on here.

Otsubo said I should come back to eat the honey and nuts on the cheese pizza, and for once I'm inclined to agree with a self-serving statement.

Also, no smoking.

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