Friday, August 24, 2012

Rigoletto リゴレット タパスラウンジ 022-716-0678

Address: 仙台市青葉区中央1-6-1.   Located across the street from the AER Building in between Hirose-dori and Chuo-dori.
Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.
Open 7 days a week 11:30 am – 4:00 am.
Wow!  Just came back from having a great meal at Rigoletto.  If you've been a Sendaiite for longer than a week I'm sure you've sauntered past their plastic canopy and peeked into their inviting dining area.  I had been there before sometime back for a company enkai, and at that time I thought, “For enkai food, this is really delicious.”  I also remember the service being top-notch, which doesn’t always happen at a large establishment.  My friend, Tony, had told me that he had dined here for lunch and thought that it was pretty good.
Due to circumstances unforeseen my wife and I ended up at Rigoletto as the restaurant we intended to go to was unavailable.  What a pleasant happenstance it turned out to be.  We arrived just a little after 5 pm, which was a good thing considering that there is a cover charge of 300 yen per person after 6 pm.

For our appetizer we requested a small size of the sliced ham (800 yen) and for the main courses we ordered a pizza and a pasta and split them.   We went with the basics:  a small 6-inch Margherita pizza (950 yen) and the Bolognase (sic) pasta (900 yen).
When the ham appetizer came I immediately realized that small means small, as six small slices of ham were presented with a bottle of olive oil.  The salty, paper-thin sliced ham was reminiscent of Venice except that tonight’s ham was a bit tougher than what I ate in Italy, but still it was quite tasty, and quickly finished.

Jamon Serrano

Next came the Margherita pizza.  My first impressions on biting into this pie were that of lightness and non-greasiness, the exact opposite of a Pizza Hut pizza.  Rigoletto’s pizza was scrumptious with the crust being especially flavorful, almost like a tasty naan that can be eaten by itself without any curry.  My only complaint was that after finishing this pizza I thought that I should have ordered the larger 10-inch serving as this felt like an appetizer.

Margherita Pizza 

I was a bit surprised when our Bolognese pasta arrived:  first at the dwarfish serving, and secondly, by the thick, long noodles.  The pasta only comes in one size:  piccolo, and can be finished off in a couple of mouthfuls.  The accompanying meat sauce was very good but I would have rather been served the traditional spaghetti noodles.

Bolognase (sic) Pasta

So after the small ham appetizer, the small Margherita pizza, and the small serving of pasta, we were still hungry!  I ordered another small Salsiccia Pizza (sausage, mushroom, onion, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese) for an additional 1000 yen.  I assumed this would have tomato sauce as its base, but to my surprise it did not.  Still, the pizza was gratifying, having been filled with an abundance of mushrooms, onions, and sausage.  The onions had a pleasant sweetness to them and, again, the crust was wonderful.  After this, we were full.

Salsiccia Pizza

I’m looking forward to our next visit to Rigoletto, but next time I think I’ll order the appetizer that comes with five varieties of ham and I’ll be sure to order a large pizza off the bat.  This is a rather large restaurant with two floors to accommodate its guests.  We were able to get in without a reservation but I don’t know how you’d fare on a busy afternoon or evening.  The service was great and for the price I thought that it was quite reasonable.  As a small bonus the menus are also in English.  I think you’d enjoy an evening of fine Italian dining at Rigoletto.

View Larger Map

Thursday, August 16, 2012

UPDATE: Bistro Ampoule ビストロ・アンブル  022-743-5785

If you haven't read about Bistro Ampoule before, please read my original post at:  Bistro Ampoule.
Bistro Ampoule is now one of my FAVORITES!!!  When I first reported on this fabulous restaurant, I listed it under my Recommended list because just after one visit I couldn’t be sure if its greatness was consistent or if it was a one-hit wonder.  But I’ve been back again and again (and again) and I have confirmed its wonderfulness.  It appears that many others agree with me, as every time I venture in there always seems to be a crowd.  
From the “Evening Lunch” menu (this is different from their Lunch and Dinner menus), the “A” set for 1260 yen that I ordered came with an appetizer and a main dish.  It was tough to decide upon which appetizer to go with, as there were thirteen very different choices to choose from.  I was in a meat-eating mood so I chose the salad with homemade sautéed bacon and spicy mustard as the appetizer.   The two thick slices of bacon were amazingly delicious, with the German mustard complimenting them very well.  The fresh salad had a tangy Italian dressing.  This appetizer was absolutely delicious and I loved it!  With the accompanying toasted bread and zesty balsamic sauce, these alone practically filled me up.  As I mentioned before, the bread came with お代わりservice!  How often does that happen in Japan?


Toasted Bread with Balsamic Sauce ... and a touch of house wine.

For the main entrée on this evening I went with the black peppered pork roast with lemon and vegetables, which costs an additional 300 yen.  The veggies consisted of eggplant, red and yellow bell peppers, sweet potato, and a carrot purée, all being served at room temperature making them, as a whole, seem more like ratatouille.  The pork steak was soft, tender, and peppery, with a thin crusty layer on top that added a textural delight to the senses.  This was truly scrumptious!  Although the pork came with the same spicy mustard that accompanies the beef steak they serve, it didn’t go as well with the pork as it did with the beef.  But the pork didn’t need any additional accoutrements to aid in its appreciation, it stood alone.

ロース肉の黒胡椒ステーキ レモン添え

My wife’s bouillabaisse, with spinach, potatoes, eggplant and fish (flounder), along with the  金目鯛  fish platter (1410 yen) appeared too much for her to eat.  Yet she happily obliged and stated that everything tasted just grand.

Seafood Galore!

On yet another outing to Bistro Ampoule we were served a sampling of carrot pottage on the house, which was very delightful.

Carrot pottage

My better half just loved her shrimp pasta and its creamy tomato sauce while I enjoyed the dinner variation of the steak and fries.  The dinner variation, unlike the lunch variation, came with a balsamic sauce topping that was very pleasing.  However, in my opinion, the tanginess of the balsamic topping did not mix well with the spiciness of the German mustard, so I kept those two apart.

Shrimp Pasta

Dinner Steak & Fries with Balsamic Sauce

The masterful chef, だいぞー,conjures up amazing dishes and a plethora of options with ingredients from local farmers.  My wife and I love Bistro Ampoule, and we think you’d love it, too.  

View Larger Map

Sunday, August 5, 2012

VENICE - Al Vecio Canton Pizzeria Ristorante


Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.

Address:   Castello 4738/4739, Venezia.  Phone: 0415287143.
Located about a 5-minute walk from the San Zaccaria vaporetto stop on the way to Santa Maria Formosa Palazzo, at the end of Ruga Giuffa.

This restaurant was recommended by Lorenzo, the owner of the Ai Tagliapietra B&B that we are currently staying at.  We figured that we ought to give this restaurant a try considering that it's only an eight second walk from our front door.

In my broken Italian I ordered the Prosciutto pizza for 8 Euros (778 円, $9.91),  a 30 cm. pizza with paper-thin slices of ham.  This was the third pizza I had eaten in less than 48 hours, and after the first bite it became the best pizza I had in Venice!  The sauce, the cheese, the crust, ... the ham!!! Each bite just seemed to be more heavenly than the last!

Prosciutto Pizza

My wife ordered a salad with lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, olives, corn, and tuna.  It came with no dressing but she still enjoyed it very much.

Salad:  Italian style

She also ordered the Spaghetti Bolognese, which she raved about!  I sampled and agreed that it was delicious; light and non-greasy, giving the effect of frehness.

Spaghetti Alla Bolognese

My wife also endulged in the local Venetian appertif, a Spritz, which is concocted with a bit of Prosecco sparkling wine, mineral water, and a bitter liqueur called Aperol.  She loved this, as well.

A Veneto Spritz

I went with a deep, rich Ialian coffee, one of the many flavors I've come to love here in Venice.


Food, drinks, and cover charge came to a grand total of 42 € (4086 円, $52), which is a little bit higher than what we've paid for other meals here in Italy, but still not too bad for real Italian grub.

I know this is far from Sendai, but if you're ever out this way take a break from San Marco's Square and enjoy the Al Vecio Canton!

Their justification for a cover charge

I forgot this

View Pizzeria/Trattoria al Vecio Canton in a larger map