Tonino - Italian
Address 3-28-10 Matsubara, Setagaya-ku
Opening hours - From 11:30 to 14:00 and 18:00 pm to 21:30 pm
Telephone - 03-3324-3090
Menu - In Italian and Japanese
Credit Cards - OK
One of the deepest mysteries of the food industry in Japan, together with the rarity of Indonesian restaurants in Tokyo, is the near total absence of good Italian pizza. The only place in our city whose pizzas I can recommend is Babbo Angelo in Jiyugaoka. Angelo Cozzolino knows his business, and his stuff is great. What the Japanese seem unable to reproduce is the original soft, moisty dough. A pizza should have raised edges and a depressed interior, and have no burnt spots. That's hou can tell if it's good or not even from 10 meters away. If it looks crusty or burnt, don't even bother tasting it.
After La Befana a year ago stopped serving the best Italian pizza I knew in Tokyo, I am always looking for a place that serves a passable imitation of the real thing, and haven't found it yet (Babbo Angelo is too far for me). Partenope in Ebisu is supposed to be fantastic, but you have to call a month in advance to have some hope to find a table for two, and I'd rather have a cheese burger at McDonald's than eat in a place like that.
I had heard of this restaurant in Shimo Takaido whose manager comes from Naples, and wanted to try it. Now I have, but Tonino, in spite of the fact that the owner is from Ischia, an island in the midst of Naples' Bay, isn't what I was looking for. In decor terms, Tonino-san sure got the restaurant of his dreams: huge (two floors), elegant, and ultramodern. For example, as you enter the men's room, the toilet's cover magically opens and a light bulb under the water in the bowl lights up in a delicate shade of blue, presumably to indicate where you are supposed to piss. But, alas, in spite of its maker's origins, pizza there isn't very exciting. There are many kinds on their menu, but the two I tasted were rather mediocre. The dough, so important and so difficult to get right, was good, but the rest just OK, no more, and certainly not worth a trip to Shimo Takaido or the 1400 yen each cost. We also had spaghetti with shrimps, a meat dish, two beers and grappa. The rest of the food was good, if undistinguished. Damages: 11 thousand yen.
Now, I don't know about you, but, after eating out for almost 20 years in one of the greatest (in both meanings of the word) cities in the world, having tasted almost anything you can think of at almost any price (almost: I am not a fool), I am getting tired of overpriced restaurants, all too common when you eat Italian or French. All the more so when the food is good, but not particularly exciting as Tonino's. Spectacular prices imply spectacular quality. Sure, the interior was elegant and relaxing. Sure, the waitress was clumsy but smiled all the time. But all of this wasn't worth 11 thousand yen with practically no drinks. The place is fashionable, but in the end I feel it wasn't worth the money.
Internet - www.pizzeria-tonino.com