After Hours: Pizzeria Marino is bland in the pizza department

URUMA, Okinawa — At the suggestion of my neighbor, we headed for Pizzeria Marino in search of tasty Italian dishes.

It was a detour from my normal meal regimen. I try to maintain a steady diet of Japanese cuisine — I’m in Okinawa, after all.

But I was sold on cheese fondue and Grace’s description of a seafood pie she’d tried there.

Located in Uruma, Marino’s Mediterranean-style villa is hard to miss. A large, Main City San-A serves as its backdrop — which means that parking is plentiful and you have the chance to walk off your meal afterward.

Red-and-white checkered tablecloths give you that standard pizzeria feel. The staff is welcoming and helpful.

The menu reflects typical Italian fare, with Japanese flair: bacon and mushroom pastas, chicken dishes, and anchovies in nearly every dish, from your Caesar salad to an eggplant and anchovy pizza.

Both lunch and dinner offer set menus that include a salad, soup, choice of pizza or homemade pasta, beverages and dessert.

The cheese Fonduta set dinner for 4,180 yen was our choice — who passes up an oozy, creamy bowl of melted cheese? — and dipping Italian bread into a communal bowl seemed to keep in theme with the family-style, sharing-is-caring atmosphere.

The fondue is a blend of two Swiss cheeses — Gruyere and Emmental — and its subtly spicy taste was my favorite part of the meal.

The fondue also made for a delicious additional topping to our "spicy Italian, salami, bacon and sausage wood-fired pizza" that needed a little flavor boost.

The attention grabber of the evening was the "pie de seafood" — a large dish of risotto, clams, shrimp and squid covered by a flaky pie crust that literally wraps around the plate.

Its flying-saucer shape drew salivating stares from nearby patrons, but unfortunately the risotto was bland and the seafood shortage disappointing.

We were lucky to find three shrimp and a few, penny-sized clams on a plate slightly larger than a Frisbee.

From the looks and rigorous slurping sounds of patrons around us, pasta seemed the way to go. I’m doubtful though, about a next time.

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