Mangia! Classic Neapolitan pizza awaits in Ebisu
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele has been serving the same two pizzas for over 140 years and is known as the best pizzeria in Naples. The restaurant’s key role in Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love—and the film adaptation starring Julia Roberts—only helped to increase its popularity. In late January 2012, the Naples pizzeria brought its unique menu and format to Tokyo.
Located on a quiet side street near Ebisu station, the Tokyo branch of the classic eatery is the first to open outside Naples. According to a spokesperson for the restaurant, Ebisu was chosen to be the second da Michele venue because its “atmosphere and calm mood are similar to Naples.” Who knew?
Its secret to success is simple: directly-sourced, natural ingredients and a traditional, tested method of leavening the pizza dough. The ingredients are carefully selected, and the flour, tomatoes and mozzarella are all imported from Italy. Staying true to its Neapolitan roots, the pizzeria only serves marinara and margherita variations—with no pasta, no coffees and definitely no desserts. The margherita combines rich and creamy mozzarella cheese, basil and tomatoes, while the marinara uses tomatoes, garlic and oregano to create a simple masterpiece of subtle flavors. Baked in a traditional wood-fired oven, the crust is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, exactly the same as that served in Naples.
Both are available in very substantial large and regular sizes, measuring 35cm and 30cm, respectively. Unfortunately, they haven’t imported Naples prices, too. A doppia (large) margherita will set you back ¥2,000, while the smaller normale costs ¥1,550. The marinara is similarly priced. Straying from the Japanese tradition of serving a cheaper lunchtime menu, everything costs the same at da Michele regardless of when you visit.
Other menu items comprise a selection of antipasti—served only on weekday evenings and weekends—including assorted Italian uncured ham and stuffed peppers as well as a range of salads (¥381-839). No meal this good would be complete without a bottle of wine (from ¥2,380), of which there is plenty to choose.
The restaurant itself is spacious and modern, with white tiles lining the walls, high ceilings, retro light fittings and an open layout. A small terrace with a big, glass front completes the relaxed and stylish feel, making it a perfect place to take friends, family or even a date.
Unsurprisingly, the Ebisu location has been bustling since its opening, with weekends particularly busy. Booking a table is recommended—especially if you visit during peak lunch or dinner times.