Italian in Japan

I am embarrassed that I still haven’t finished posting about Yakushima (monkey island). But I have lots and lots more pretty pictures from our adventures, so I’ll be catching up for a while.

I mentioned in my birthmas post that I had pizza for dinner on Christmas. Well, this was the place: Il Mare.

crab risotto at Il Mare

For my birthday dinner, we got to start with a fantastic crab and tomato risotto, made with these crabs that are local to the Tanegashima and Yakushima area. I can’t remember what they are called, but they look really weird and taste really good.

drinks at Il Mare

That’s the chef/owner, Ohya-san, making our pizzas. He serves really good, really fresh tasting blood orange juice and mango juice, (which go surprisingly well with dinner) and his menu has rotating specials based on what’s in season.

pizza toss

The toss.

pizza at Il Mare

Our favorites were the bacon and garlic pizza and the four cheese pizza. This is probably the only place in a hundred mile radius that cooks with blue cheese. We peeked in the kitchen while they were cooking and saw a nice, big wheel of blue being crumbled for the four cheese pizzas. The bacon is house made too, which is really impressive even by Italian or hipster American standards.

pizza at Il Mare

There’s my very cheesy four-cheeser with a lovely charred rim. I didn’t get a good photo, but Ohya-san makes beautifully crusty bread, as well as his perfectly chewy and crispy pizza dough, from scratch. His was easily the best pizza and bread I’ve had in Japan, and even better than a lot of the places I eat pizza and buy bread in the US. We asked Ohya-san if he traveled to Italy to learn to make pizza and bread like that, but he said “No, I just study and practice a lot”. He had me fooled.

Il Mare sign

I know Yakushima is far away for most of the people reading, but if you ever find yourself there, make sure to visit Ohya-san at Il Mare. He’s built a gorgeous restaurant with house-made everything on hard work and passion, and I can’t overstate the level of respect I have for what he’s made. Also, it’s just ridiculously delicious. Go.

  1. How cool! That food looks scrumptious! :) xo TJ

    TJ — March 7, 2014
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