Part 1: A Trattoria-style Italian Restaurant in Yuurakuchou
Lately, I’ve been traveling to Tokyo more, and I’ve discovered some great restuarants there. So far, my focus has been in 有楽町 (Yuurakuchou), the theatre district of Tokyo, which is accessible from the Yamanote and Tokyo Metro Lines, just one stop from Ginza. On my last trip, I went to see Trafalgar /Funky Sunshine! at Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre. Yuurakuchou is lined wall to wall with theatres, malls, and restaurants, and these are a few excellent restaurants that I happened upon while wandering around the area.
I’ve been a bit obsessed with Trattoria-style Italian restaurants ever since I saw「 バンビ～ノ！」 (Bambino!), a Japanese drama based on a manga of the same name by Sekiya Tetsuji（せきやてつじ [no kanji]. In Bambino!, Arashi-member Matsumoto Jun plays Ban Shougo (伴 省吾), a college student from Fukuoka who dreams of becoming an Italian chef. Ban travels to Tokyo for spring break to work at the Trattoria Baccanale, a ritzy Italian place near Roppongi, as a favor to his boss from his old friend, the chef. The drama focuses on naïve but bullheaded Ban, who is nicknamed Bambino by his sempai, and his struggles to achieve his dreams.
I thought the drama was a great coming-of-age drama for the college-age crowd, but no matter what you think of Ban, the show will make you hungry. Of course, the class at Japanese Summer School in which we watched it was right before lunch, and we would all go to the dining hall afterward shouting, “Bene!” at each other. (Or, to make it more Japanese, 「ベネですか。」)
After the term ended, every Trattoria sign in the area caught my eye. Trattoria Ciao, of course, was no exception. Located near Hibiya Station in Yuurakuchou, this restaurant is tucked into a bridge and a five-minute walk from the Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre.
The atmosphere was warm and comforting but open and light. As the chefs prepared the food in the semi-public kitchen, I could hear them shouting “Bene!” to each other. Clearly I had picked the right place.
The food is typical Italian fare—pastas, pizzas, and meat-based main dishes. A meal comes with a trip to the salad bar, which had a variety of greens, vegetables, breads, and desserts. I don’t think I have been to a salad bar since moving here, and the vegetables were all crisp and fresh, so it was a welcome reminder of home. I ordered the special of the day, the eggplant and pepper pizza; a sangria; iced tea; and the gelato of the day, blood-orange. Half-pizzas are also available, and given that I had the salad bar, I probably should have ordered a half. Still, the pizza was thin enough that the meal was filling, but not overly so. The flavors of the pizza were fresh; the gelato, as bright visually as it was in flavor; and the sangria hit the spot on a hot July day. The staff was more than polite and friendly, and the food did not take long to arrive, although that might have been because I arrive as the shop opened.
Considering the restaurant is in Tokyo and that good Trattoria restaurants tend to be a bit pricey, the price of the meal (entrée, alcohol, drink, and dessert) was well within budget at about 2000 yen. Japan has a good number of Trattoria restaurants scattered in the cities, but Trattoria Ciao is one you don’t want to miss.
Open Monday-Friday 11:30-24:00
Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays 12:00-23:00
Closed for New Year’s
The restaurant is very close to Hibiya and Yuurakuchou stations. From Yuurakucho Station (有楽町駅), exit from the Hibiya Exit (日比谷口) and turn left. Follow the “bridge”; you’ll cross the intersection of Harumi-doori (晴海通り). Stay along the bridge and walk straight for two blocks, the restaurant will be on your left, across from the Imperial Plaza (インペリアルプラザ). 5-minute walk.
From Hibiya Station (日比谷駅), exit at A7 onto Harumi-doori (晴海通り). Walk down Harumi-doori until you get to the bridge with all the restaurants under it by the Hibiya Exit of Yuurakuchou Station. Turn right before the bridge (do not go under it). Walk straight for two blocks, the restaurant will be on your left, across from the Imperial Plaza (インペリアルプラザ). 6-minute walk.