Dal Matto

1 Chome−10−8, Nishiazabu, Tokyo, Japan

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Dal Matto is a mini chain of casual Italian restaurants, with the original branch being this one on a quiet side street in Nishiazabu, neighbouring Roppongi. There is a further branch in Roppongi Hills and another in Shibuya. The branch here has a small dining room with a partly open kitchen, the tables bare and quite closely packed. There is no choice of food, just a fixed menu. The head chef is Masato Hirai, who trained in Toi (Shizuoka) and in Bettola da Ochiai under chef Tsutomu Ochiai (who himself trained in several locations in Italy. 

To begin with was a plate with a wide  array of nibbles, from mutton terrine through to pig liver to bonito to gruntfish, through to  little matsutake mushroom, baby sweet corn, bitter melon, and aubergine. This was all harmless enough, but nothing that really stood out either, with a little tempura of seaweed that was distinctly soggy (average 11/20). Bread was a decent rosemary focaccia. There followed an unusual dish of chilled pasta with slices of white peach, chilled peach jelly flavoured with mint and crushed white pepper and garnished with chrysanthemum flowers. The pasta had reasonable texture and the peach itself was fine, but I am not sure that combining the two was such a great idea (12/20).

Pork was cooked sous vide and then finished in the pan, served with a local green pepper that resembled a padron pepper, along with a yellow variety of potato and a little mustard. The pork was not good, a little chewy and sinewy, and although the pepper on the side was fine, it was not enough to distract from the texture of the meat (9/20).

The main dish was pasta with what was described as a chicken ragu, but was actually a quite thin sauce with a few pieces of chicken rather than a deep, rich sauce. The pasta itself was fine though under-seasoned (11/20). Dessert was iced nougat, which was overly sweet but otherwise pleasant (11/20). Coffee was from a brand called Segafredo, a group that despite its Italian name was established in Paris in 1988, and was not very good, being over-roasted and a touch bitter.

Service was fine and the bill came to ¥5,688 (£42) per person with water and a single beer to drink. Overall this was quite a disappointing meal, in particular the pork dish. However even if I ignore that, nothing really stood out that suggested that the kitchen had a great deal to offer.

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