Ernesto L’Osteria, Daikanyama

Food & Drink - September 17th, 2009
Delonghi 1

In fashionable Daikanyama is an emporium of the multi-faceted Italian lifestyle brand De’Longhi. Famed for designing and manufacturing professional espresso machines that grace hotels and homes across the world, De’Longhi has collaborated in Japan with veteran chef Stefani Ernesto to create Case De’Longhi, a modern yet authentic Italian restaurant using only the finest ingredients.

The trendy building is much more than an eatery, the outside espresso terrace teaming with beautiful young Japanese, and the upstairs boutique selling only genuine imported Italian products. The experience has been described as ‘Italian living innovation,’ which is perhaps best seen inside the restaurant. The bespoke interior was designed by acclaimed designer Davide Pizzigoni, who, in addition to multiple interiors for opera houses and theaters, has created dress designs for performers in the Tokyo National Opera, some of which have been mounted on canvas and adorn the fresh orange walls. The space features contemporary restaurant seating as well as intimate black and orange booths lit by chandeliers, the ideal setting for a romantic evening. Once or twice a month the grand piano comes alive with an Italian music event or jazz night. The company’s values are also reflected in the bar area’s recycled light fixture, created by the artist Shoichi Sakurai; it is made entirely from re-engineered De’Longhi machines.

If one word could sum up the experience, it would be authenticity. Everything from the weekly shipments of seasonal produce from Northern Italy to the wonderfully bold coffee screams Italian. The chef said, “I could turn off the freezers, because they are empty—we only use fresh ingredients.”

For the appetizer, we had carpaccio style beef (¥1,400), salted first, then slightly cooked with herbs. The meat was topped with mozzarella, basil sauce, fruit tomatoes, and a variety of Japanese ‘water eggplant,’ the only species of eggplant which can be enjoyed raw. The cheese was De’Longhi’s famed buffalo mozzarella, fresh in that day from Naples. The wonderfully soft, rural quality was far better than anything store-bought.

Next came a warming dish of gnocchi, accompanied by a luxurious, creamy mascarpone and amaretto sauce and topped with walnuts. The rich flavors enveloped us even as we finished off the last morsels.

The chef described the final pasta course as his favorite, commenting that, “given the choice I would eat it twice a day.” A signature handmade pappardelle pasta with minced rosemary inside the dough (¥2,000), it came in an aromatic red wine sauce of tender veal and porcini mushrooms, all complemented with a chilled sparkling wine.

The menu will appeal to all food lovers, and changes often depending on the fish and meat available at market. Dinner courses start at ¥4,800, and come with a choice of up to nine types of freshly made pasta. The weekly lunch set is a little-known secret in Daikanyama, costing only ¥1,200 for three courses. For the widest choice, the seasonal evening menu is fantastic. For fall, look out for interesting creations with fresh mushrooms and chestnuts.

Best table: One of the intimate booths
Prices: Appetizers from ¥1,000, dinner sets from ¥4,800
Location: On the first floor of Daikanyama Plaza

Open daily (11:30am–2pm and 6–10:30pm)
24-7 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku
Tel: 03-5428-4631

De’Longhi's kitchen