Mario i Sentieri, Nishi Azabu

Food & Drink - May 20th, 2010
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by Deborah Im

Restaurants like Mario i Sentieri are exactly why my favorite cuisine in Tokyo is not Japanese, but Italian, and why the best Italian I’ve ever had is not in Italy, but in Tokyo. Chef Mario Frittoli and his crew prepare exquisitely executed versions of modern Italian cuisine, incorporating the freshest Japanese seafood, meat and vegetables—a match made in gastronomic heaven.

We had the menu del giorno—a terrific value offering five courses plus two glasses of wine for only ¥7,000. The meal started off with the antipasto of the day, a seared bonito fish with citrus-flavored sauce, carpione style. Juicy slices of orange gave a unique twist to the mild-flavored bonito, and capers, olives and pink peppercorns gave the dish a robust flavor and a little kick.

Our next course was the day’s pasta: spaghetti with icefish and oysters, prepared with aglio olio e peperoncino (olive oil and garlic with crushed red peppers). The icefish and oysters gave the pasta a wonderfully complex, savory flavor that perfect complemented the olive oil and garlic sauce. Topped with arugula, the pasta course was so good I wanted to lick the plate clean.

A decadently creamy risotto with fontina cheese and fresh fava beans followed the pasta course. The meat course on the menu of the day offers a choice between fish or meat, so we opted for one of each. The fish of the day was a sauteed snapper, served with hamaguri oysters and aonori seaweed. The snapper was pan-seared to perfection, and the tender flesh was well seasoned. The meat option was a pan-roasted New Zealand fillet in a baby mushroom sauce, served medium rare. The meat was juicy, tender and lean, and the mushroom sauce added a nice earthy finish.

Dessert was a beautifully presented caramel mousse dotted with dried fruits and served with walnut gelato. After the parade of filling savory courses, it offered just the right amount of delicate sweetness to finish off the meal.

Mario i Sentieri’s most popular dishes are the pistachio gnocchi served with scampi in asparagus cream, and homemade pappardelle with rosemary-seasoned wild boar ragu. Pastas are clearly the restaurant’s strong point, and a wide selection of fresh pastas are made in-house daily. Mario i Sentieri is one of Tokyo’s most innovative Italian restaurants and a meal there is highly recommended. Mario aims to impress, and succeeds.

Open Mon–Sat for lunch (11:30am–

2:30pm) and dinner (6pm–12am)

4-1-10 Nishi Azabu

Tel: 03-6418-7072

www.mario-frittoli.com

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