“È difficile essere semplici” declares a sign on the wall of Guido per Eataly: It’s difficult to be simple. An admirable philosophy, to be sure, though it’s surprising to find it proclaimed so loudly in a restaurant where the cheapest dinner set costs ¥6,000. When you’re operating on that rung of the dining market in Tokyo, people tend to expect something a little fancier and more fussed-over.
You won’t find much of that here—and you probably won’t miss it, either. Guido per Eataly is part of the Daikanyama outpost of Eataly, a Turin-based collective of artisanal producers that aims to spread the joys of Italian cuisine by offering “luxury” foods at affordable prices. The complex, built around an attractive Mediterranean-style courtyard, is home to what’s billed as “the biggest Italian food and wine center in Japan,” which conveniently supplies much of the produce for the two onsite restaurants.
While the casual eatery I Ristorantini downstairs serves up affordable pasta and pizza, the emphasis at Guido is on fine dining—the original restaurant in Turin boasts a Michelin star. On the chef’s recommendation, we opt for the ¥8,000 Tradizione Piemontese set, which offers modern takes on some classics of northwestern Italian cuisine. A selection of house-baked breads arrives, followed by piccola entratina, an inspired spin on the old staple of insalata caprese: here, the tomato is pureed and served in a cocktail glass with a hunk of cheese and a few sprigs of basil. Nicely understated, that.
Next comes vitello tonnato, melt-in-the-mouth slivers of beef with a tuna-infused mayonnaise (available à la carte for ¥3,500). Agnolotti al sugo d’arrosto, a robustly flavored ravioli stuffed with beef, pork and spinach (¥3,500 à la carte), is but the prelude to the main course: stracotto, a pot roast of Kuroge beef slow-cooked for ten hours and served with vegetables and polenta cous cous (¥4,700 à la carte).
With advance notice, the menu can be tailored to accommodate dietary requirements, and one of our party opts for a meat-free line-up that proves just as tasty. To whit: cream of asparagus soup with poached egg and fava beans; sashimi of marinated red snapper with orange sorbet; green asparagus risotto; and alfonsino baked in a wrap with olives, cherry tomatoes and capers.
We wash this down with a bottle of Nebbiolo Brandini (¥3,800), a full-bodied red that complements the food nicely. The wine list at Guido per Eataly is a monster, though most of the bottles on offer won’t break the bank—and if you like what you drink, you can get it at the market across the way.
We’re pretty stuffed by the time dessert arrives, but how can you say no to a plate of bignè al cioccolato, tiny choux puffs smothered in chocolate sauce? Almost as good is the dolce morbido al torrone d’Alba, a nut-coated ball of nougat mousse that is, one imagines, what Ferrero Rocher wishes it was.
If this is “simple,” it’s a kind of simplicity we could get used to.