Kyoto provides a similar vibe to Florence, my home town.
The No. 1 reason why I came to Japan was that my wife is Japanese. I met her when she studied in Florence and we got married. Then, we decided to move to Nagoya where she was born and raised. Since my family runs a restaurant, I have been working as a chef since I was 16 years old. Therefore, I was very confident about my job. I worked as a chef at several places such as Italian restaurants in a department store and in a hotel, and Pizzeria in Nagoya. I even worked at an Italian restaurant in Tokyo just for one year.
I often visited Kyoto when I was off of work during the time when I lived in Nagoya. That was because Kyoto was very similar to Florence where I grew up, including landform as the both areas surrounded by mountains, four-season climate, a lot of sun and clear air. I also felt that people from Kyoto were quite similar to those from Florence. They are hardworking and are proud of their city and culture. Since both Florence and Kyoto are the old capital, perhaps we have so much in common.
Selecting Kyoto as the location of my restaurant.
In order to save money for opening my restaurant, I worked at the restaurants and my wife worked at a company. However, it took about 10 years to achieve that. There were several reasons that I selected Kyoto as the location of my restaurant. As I mentioned before, I love Kyoto, which was one of the reasons. Although there were several authentic Florentine restaurants in Tokyo, there were a quite few of them in Kyoto. This was another reason. As many foreigners including Europeans were living in Kyoto, I thought that they would surely come to my restaurant to pursue authentic taste. I felt more comfortable and relaxed in Kyoto than anywhere else.
A narrow alley attracted me more than a big street.
I was very lucky to find a property on Yanagikoji, a very nice alley in Kyoto. Although I looked for rental properties on the Internet and visited many real estate agents, it was very hard to find an ideal property for my restaurant at first. At such time, I came to know about Yanagikoji TAKA, a standing dining bar on the alley. Taka, the owner of this shop, had worked for 10 years at Nobu, Milan. I thought that he might give me a hint of finding a good property so I visited his shop.
I fell in love with this alley at first sight. I got along with him straight away too. Therefore, I hoped to open my restaurant on this alley if I could. Unfortunately, no vacant rental property here was available at that time. I daily checked any vacancies available on the alley. One day I found a vacancy of this property and I immediately applied for renting it. When I was interviewed by the owner of the property, I convinced him of my strong passion towards opening a Florentine restaurant here and he allowed me to rent this property. That was really great!
I want my customers to enjoy authentic Florentine flavors.
Italian restaurants in other countries, not only the U.S.A and Europe but also Asia such as Indonesia, offers Italian flavors. However, I don't know why but only Italian restaurants in Japan arrange flavors that are suited to Japanese people and use many Japanese ingredients. A few Italian restaurants in Tokyo offer authentic flavors but none in Nagoya and Kyoto. In that sense, without any competitors, I thought that it was a good change to open my restaurant in Kyoto.
Since its opening in November, 2017, I have been offering only Florentine dishes that I made. I think that my tomato sauce made with tomato and plenty of garlics especially tastes exactly the same as that made in Florence. The pasta dish "Pasta with peach and garlic tomato sauce" shown on the picture is made with thick, soft and sticky noodles coated with ample of tomato sauce. I'm sure that Japanese people will love the texture of my al dente pasta that is similar to udon noodles.
Italian dishes in Japan are also so delicious that I can respect them. However, they are just Japanese-style Italian dishes. There are many excellent chefs who can make them better than me in Kyoto. I'd better make Florentine dishes that I am proud of. I want Kyoto people to know about their flavors.
Use Italian ingredients as many as possible including oil and beef.
Many Florentine dishes use meat, prosciutto, and salami. They are simply seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbs. We try to bring out the best flavors of ingredients. In that sense, Florentine dishes may have similar features to Washoku. Many Florentine dishes are made with very simple ingredients. Therefore, if I make something wrong such as the proportion of ingredients, it will turn out to be a totally different dish. Therefore, ingredients are very important. This is why I try to use Italian seasonings and ingredients as many as I can.
Although some of my customers are Italian, many of them are Japanese who used to live in Italy or who have visited Italy before. All of them were satisfied with authentic taste of my dishes, saying "These tasted exactly Florentine flavors!". Nothing will make me happier if I can bring a breath of Italian air to Japan, even just a little. The dish "Cooked beef red tripe with salsa verde sauce" shown on the picture is the best Florence's street food. Beef red tripe is carefully cleaned and prepared, and then cooked in stock that contains red chili pepper, garlic, and Italian parsley. The dish has a piquant flavor and tastes so delicious that you cannot help saying "Buono!".
Italians are all in love with wine!
Most Italians drink wine over meals, because wine goes very well with Italian dishes. In addition, wine can help rinse salt and fat of these dishes that are left on your tongue. There is a saying in Italy "Drinking wine helps you live to 100 years". Eating delicious food and drinking wine will prevent stress. As a result, everyone becomes happy.
This saying was written on dinner mats of my restaurant.
Please come to my restaurant to enjoy food and wine when you have a rough or tough time. You can easily forget about what is bothering you without doubt. People who encountered their first Florentine dish at my restaurant won't have any problems when they visit Florence, because they will certainly find dishes that will taste the same as mines.
Home is where you make it! Wherever you live will be the same!
When I opened my restaurant, I was nervous to a certain extent at first like "Do Kyoto people accept me?". However, I have never had unpleasant feelings even as one and half year have passed since the opening. People who come to my restaurant are all really kind and love Italian dishes.
I am glad that my friends from Italy and Europe will come to Kyoto to visit my restaurant every time when they come to Japan. I believe that traditional culture that Kyoto has attract them too. Kyoto has not only its culture but also arts and music.
What do I do on my day off? I listen to music and take a walk along the Kamo River. I often visit restaurants and shops to eat my favorite food too, such as grilled chicken skewers, Japanese-style fried chicken, and ramen noodles. Kyoto is a food paradise. Nothing would make me happier than to make my country's food and to offer them in such an attractive city!
577-14 Nakano-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Opening hours: 12：00-15：30 and17：30-22：30LO（Fri, Sat, Sun, Public holiday: 12:00-22:30 LO）
Closed on Tuesdays