Mewby’s birthday was a couple of weeks back and to celebrate I took her to Trattoria 道月 by the Ocean. Though the name is a bit unwieldy, the restaurant itself is very welcoming and friendly, and the food was superb.
This is the outside of the building which as you can see is a lovely old (but fully renovated!) machiya townhouse. You can’t beat a bit of machiya dining when in Kyoto. This restaurant specializes in fresh seafood served with Italian pasta, which you can eat at the counter whilst watching the cook at work, or separately at your own table. We had a little room to ourselves and here are the dishes we ordered: Broiled buri (yellowtail) with mizuna leaves, Asian pear, and fresh tomatoes marinated in a balsamic sauce. I was intrigued by the addition of pears to this salad – and delighted by it once I’d tried it as their sweetness provided a nice counter to the savory fish. A fresh and crunchy start to whet our appetites for the meal! Another original dish here: tagliatelle served in a sauce of puréed murasaki imo (purple sweet potatoes), with shrimp, cabbage, avocado and sliced almonds. Murasaki imo is rather sweet, so this was an unusual pasta dish for me. I liked it but I did rather feel like I was already eating dessert. This is a serving of the same dish above so that you can see the tagliatelle. The main course: oven-baked kawahagi (filefish) with porcini mushrooms. I really enjoyed this. And of course a special dessert selection for Mewby’s birthday! Many thanks to the owner and staff of Dougetsu by the Ocean for a wonderful meal!
Trattoria 道月 by the Ocean is on the north-west corner of Gokomachi and Takatsuji, so not too far from the city center. Here is a map.
There is a gallery of interior images on the homepage of their website: http://www.dougetsu-ocean.com/
Reservations can be made by telephone or online here: http://www.dougetsu-ocean.com/reservation/ Tel: 075-361-2882 Opening hours: 11:30～15:00 (Last orders: 14:00)
18:00～23:00 (Last orders: 22:00) Closed on Tuesdays.
Yesterday, Mewby & I celebrated five years together with dinner at Bocca del Vino. We ate there once before, about four years ago now, and I am happy to say that the food and service remain excellent. If you like Italian and you are looking to celebrate a special occasion with something a little bit special, then I definitely recommend splashing out at Bocca del Vino.
Here are the appetizers from last night’s meal.
First the 寒サバのマリネ 香草風味 – marinated mackerel with fragrant herbs.
Lots of fresh bread. I love the bread here.
ホワイトアスパラガスのサラダ仕立て – A lovely white asparagus salad.
モッツァレラチーズと自家製チャバッタのグラタン – Mozzarella and freshly baked ciabatta gratin.
They have a lot of different pasta types here. We went for the fettuccine (above) with shrimp in a cream of tomato sauce – フェットチーネ車海老のトマトクリームソース.
And this was our main dish – 赤ムツと帆立のグリル雲丹と浅利のソース – grilled gnomefish and scallops in a sea urchin and clam sauce. Actually most of the main dishes here are meat, but they made this specially for us as I don’t do flesh of beast or fowl.
Oh and I almost forgot we had this side dish of grilled welsh onions too. Very oniony.
Everything tasted great. They have a fairly decent wine list too and the waiter was very friendly indeed. Twinkly eyed, he took great pleasure in showing off his Italian skills. Our only regret was that we ate so many appetizers we had no room for dolce. Next time…
Bocca del Vino is situated on the east side of Muromachi street, a few steps south of Nishiki. Here is a map.
Open most days, unless otherwise announced on the top page of their website: http://bocca-del-vino.com/ Lunch: 12:00～14:00 （last orders） Dinner: 18:00～22:00（last orders） Tel: 075・211・7053
On Sunday, Mewby and I had booked a lunchtime table at Cafe & Osteria Siluet after seeing some tasty looking pictures online. However, on arrival we were dismayed by both the lack of choice on the menu, and the somewhat churlish manner of the waitress. Life being short, we quickly made our excuses and left. We were still in the mood for pasta though, and I was pretty sure I had seen a few nice looking Italian spots on Pontocho, so that’s where we headed and found Bistro Ranman. What a contrast! The freshest pasta you have ever tasted, a nice quiet comfortable atmosphere and lots of choice on the menu. They had a range of pasta types on offer, but on this occasion we both went for the fettuccine, Mewby with chicken and myself with the salmon. Here’s mine:
The salmon was complimented nicely by the soft taro potatoes (小芋) and the mangetout peas. And that fresh pasta really was superb! I washed it down with a nice Kyoto micro-brewed Kölsch beer.
The chicken fettuccine was very similar but came with shimeji mushrooms rather than taro potatoes. As you can see from the picture below Mewby was very happy with her meal.
Bistro Ranman seems to be very popular with young couples – at least at lunchtime. We both agreed we would like to come back and have dinner there sometime and try out some of the other pasta varieties. With great food, nice service and a lovely quiet atmosphere this restaurant definitely gets the DK seal of approval.
Open everyday for lunch (11：30～14：30) and dinner (17：00～23：00), Bistro Ranman is a short walk north of Shijo on the west side of Pontocho. Here is a map.
Chris Rowthorn introduced me to this little Italian restaurant a few months ago. As he said at the time, to look at the place you would think it was a kissaten (old style Japanese coffee shop), and expect them to serve you カレーライス. Nevertheless here at Tramonto you can get some of the best pizza* in town. The last time I went with Mewby, we ordered this one:
Super succulent mushrooms on a soft, springy dough base! We also had the mixed seafood linguine:
It was tasty! And you can’t go wrong with a Caprese salad:
Or how about finishing with some home-made tiramisu?
That was REALLY good tiramisu actually. In fact the food in general was excellent, but also that kissaten type atmosphere and lack of pretension means that people feel comfortable coming here even on their own. I noticed a constant turnover of customers while I was there and looking around it seemed clear that a lot of those customers were regulars.
You can find Tramonto on the south side of Nijo just east of Teramachi. The restaurant is tucked away on the ground floor of a red brick building down a long entryway lined with bicycles. Watch out for the Italian flag and signboard. Here is a map.
Telephone： 075-256-1917 Open： 10：00～21：00 (Last orders: 20：30) Closed on Sundays.
Many thanks to Chris Rowthorn for introducing me to this fine location!
*I still think Pizza Ya on Yanaginobanba serves THE best pizza in Kyoto – but Tramonto comes a close second and definitely wins on atmosphere.
Update:Sadly, I visited this restaurant today and found that it had disappeared and been replaced by a dreadful souvenir shop. Thankfully the fine historic building still stands but this particular branch of Second House with its delicious pasta and fine Italian beer is no more. (May 13th 2011).
This building, a former bank, dates from 1915.
Last night I took refuge from the rain at the Second House restaurant on Shichijo. It’s a handy spot for a plate of pasta if you happen to be in the Kyoto station area. My work is just a stone’s throw from there so it’s handy for me too. There are several Second House restaurants dotted throughout Kyoto, but this one just happens to be housed in a neo-classical Taisho era building with massively imposing doric columns. Once you get inside though, the interior is in contrast very relaxed and informal.
The Second House group of restaurants are best known for their spaghetti and cake. On this occasion though I didn’t have either, settling for the penne with gorgonzola and walnuts and the basil & tomato bruschetta instead. The food here is simple and if you’re in the mood for pasta it hits the spot. Here are some pictures of my meal and of the interior. Note the beer: Moretti. It just happens to be my favorite.
セカンドハウス七条西洞院店 is on the north side of Shichijo, just west of Nishinotoin on the corner with Higashi Nakasuji Street. Here is a map. Open:10：00～23：00 TEL: 075－342－2555
On Boxing Day we had lunch at Oggi on Kawaramachi (not to be confused with Kei’s Cafe Oggi). Oggi is an Italian/Spanish influenced cafe & dining bar in an machiya building full of comfy sofas. They do a pretty good lunch set. For 1000 yen you get a plate of tasty hors d’oeuvres…
A few weeks ago Ted Taylor introduced me to Cafe dell’Orso a nice new Italian restaurant on Higashi Ichijo Dori. They do a good ￥1000 set lunch there; one pasta of your choosing + salad + focaccia with a home made pate and a wee slice of quiche. I decided to go back for dinner, and try some more dishes. In my pictures below you can see various appetisers and desserts but not the main dishes, as I was so intent on eating them up I forgot to photograph them! Thankfully, this popular Kyoto blogger has some good pictures on his site too, so you can check his pictures out here. I actually had the asparagus and parmesan gratin (￥700) and the tomato and clam spaghetti (￥1100), and washed them down with a cold sharp Peroni beer (￥700). They were all very good. However, the desserts were especially delicious, or as my companion Mewby put it “yabai!” (which is Japanese for dangerously awesome). There are more pictures below and if you go to flickr you can see the prices too.
This restaurant/cafe is run by two friends, Stefano Bandini and Sasha Ashburne. I asked Stefano why the name is “Orso” which means “bear”, and he told me that his father used to have a gallery on Via dell’Orso in Milan named Galleria dell’Orso. The Caffe shares more than just the name with his father’s gallery though, as the walls here too are used to exhibit local art. At the time I visited they were decorated with the photographic work of Fumio Inoue. And as for the “cucina naturale”? Stefano explains: “Cucina naturale” means that we are making, as far as possible, everything home made. Salad dressing, sauce, ginger ale etc. are all home made. When possible we also use organic ingredients. So far the dry pasta we have been using is organic. We have now started using fresh pasta, that we buy from a non-organic supplier. In the near future, if economically convenient, we’d like to make our own pasta. In this case we’ll try to find organic semolina…
Caffe dell’Orso, is on the north side of Higashi Ichijo Dori. Go east from Kawabata and it is just a little further past the Sakyou-ku ward office. If you get as far as Higashioji Dori you have gone too far! Here is a useful map.
UPDATE April 2013: Sadly, Pizza Ya has now closed.
Foreigners coming to Japan for the first time go through various rites of passage, one of which is the intense rush of self-satisfaction you get when you finally manage to order a pizza over the telephone in Japanese. Well, alright. Well done, you. However, I do have one small point to make. That over-priced-mush delivered to your lazy-ass-door is not pizza! But I know where you can get some and at a reasonable price too. Pizza Ya, is undoubtedly the finest pizza restaurant in Kyoto. Everything here is prepared by hand by the master using the finest natural ingredients and is (of course) totally free of nasty additives. I’ll let these pictures speak for themselves.
Here’s the olive and anchovy with tomato sauce…
and without tomato sauce…
And here’s a good old fashioned tomato and mushroom topped taste-tastic delight:
I cannot stress enough how good those home-made crispy bases are. And all washed down with ice-cold Sicilian beers – yum. (In Sicilia fa sempre caldo!) As the master makes each pizza from scratch, you’ll have to wait a while, but don’t bolt your pizza when you get it. For one thing, you’ll burn your mouth off, and for another this is pizza for grown-ups and is meant to be savoured.
To find it; head west on Shijo till you are roughly halfway between Kawaramachi and Karasuma (where Starbucks is). Then turn left and go south on Yanaginobanba. Keep your eyes peeled to the left as it’s tucked away in a corner and quite easy to miss. It’s a tiny wee snug of a place so if you are in a large group you might need to book it in advance, but as it’s one of Kyoto’s best kept secrets it doesn’t usually get too busy.
Pizza Ya is open everyday from 12:00 – 23:00 (12:00 – 22:00 on Sundays). UPDATE (January 2013): Apparently now closed on Mondays.
Here’s a map: