Napule Midtown, Italian Pizzeria in Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi, Tokyo
Review of Napule Midtown
Does Napule really need another review? Ask anyone who knows pizza, including Italians living in Tokyo, and this restaurant is sure to be at the top of their list. In fact, these pizzas are as real to Naples as the restaurant’s name implies. (Napule is a written interpretation of “Napoli” when spoken with the local accent.)
But folks, Napule actually does have other items on their menu definitely worth tasting. Sometimes it is worth straying from the norm and exploring other specialties from this bad boy city of southern Italy.
There is no better way to start a meal than with appetizers since they provide a good indication of a restaurant’s quality and give fodder for thought (or not) of the dishes to come. Napule has an interesting antipasti menu from which you can choose a set number of five to ten tapas-sized portions. The staff will then select these from among their daily creations. As this was to be a day of gluttony, my dining partner and I decided to taste through the “BIG 10” selection which came delicately arranged on two plates. This was nicely matched by a dry, straightforward Prosecco which was served as a welcome drink.
Explaining each portion would be an anti-climax to your own experience of culinary discovery, so I will only mention a few at this time. We started with a vegetable and egg soufflé, and then moved on to spice-infused pickled yellow peppers, marinated salmon and a mixed bean & grain salad. The most memorable was simply Mozzarella with sliced tomatoes, basilico and a drizzle of quality olive oil. I know what you are thinking as I’ve had this dish a thousand times, too. But you’ve never experienced the intense richness of THIS Neapolitan Mozzarella which couldn’t taste any fresher or creamier unless they milked the buffalo at the restaurant and then made it at your table. Now this is what cheese should really taste like!
The next course was a selection of five different types of cured meats from various areas of Italy, including a delicious house-made combination of chicken, pork and beef that were all artistically enfolded over each other. All the meats were very representative of their respective regions and I especially liked the sweet, silky texture of the San Daniele Prosciutto which I now prefer to Parma ham.
We then decided to forgo our usual pizza selection and try something different for a change. I asked my service staff if there was something else that a local might eat. The answer was a surprising “off-the-menu” suggestion …. pizza fritta! Huh?
Apparently this is a fairly popular dish in Naples which basically looks like a calzone fried to golden perfection. Also known as montanare, it is perhaps not the best diet food, but who cares! This version was basically an inverted pizza with basil, ham and both Ricotta & (that same amazing) Mozzarella cheese. An interesting interpretation of the classic dish, I’d recommend it to be shared along with a wine having good acidity, such as the Tarabusso Primitivo (Puglia).
The next course was their most popular pasta, an al-dente Linguine ai Frutti di Mare prepared with five varieties of shellfish. This included baby abalone and the exotic bamboo clam, the latter of which I have only eaten until now in Southeast Asia. The flavors of the clams and pasta were the focal points of this meal so the sauce was kept to a simple, but tasty base of olive oil, garlic and butter. The variety of seafood changes depending on the day, so expect only the most seasonal delicacies.
Satiated from our meal, we opted to skip our secondo and go straight to dessert. Keeping with our theme, we decided on another specialty of Naples, babà. If you are a fan of good booze like me, then you will certainly like this rum-soaked cake. There was almost enough alcohol to drink it from a shot glass.
The Small Details: Despite being located next to quite a few swanky Mid-Town eateries and having an entranceway with full view of their wood-burning oven, Napule maintains a pleasantly casual atmosphere which would work well for either a (second?) date or group of friends. In other words, it is a place to linger over your meal just as they do in Italy. There are several set pizza course menus which I would recommend if it is your first visit and you also might want to experiment by adding a few extra items to share family style. While language is not a barrier as their staff is multi-lingual, reservations are mandatory for this extremely popular restaurant. I recommend a table on the spacious terrace from Spring through Fall—don’t worry if the weather isn’t behaving since they always set aside extra indoor seating for the guests with al fresco reservations. Buon Appetito!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Tokyo Midtown Garden Terrace 1F D-0117
9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku,Tokyo 107-0052
Tel. 03-5413-0711 (phone)