Pizzeria Napoletana Cantera in Tachikawa is a little slice of Naples in Japan
Three years of life in Naples for me meant that pizza became a staple.
The habit persists in Japan, and Pizzeria Napoletana Cantera delivers not just the staples but an experience reminiscent of that city by the bay.
A five-minute walk from Tachikawa Station in western Tokyo brings you to the unassuming facade of a cafe-style eatery that screams Italian chain restaurant. Soft jazz pumped onto the street beckons hungry tourists while wine-barrel tables and stools project a kitschy European air. A closer look reveals hints of true culinary greatness.
Labels in Italian, figures of Pulcinella (a famous Neopolitan opera character) and a large pizza oven may tip you off to what to expect from this Japanese pizzeria.
The space is inviting and accommodates about 50 diners, with ample room to socially distance.
The smells of fresh ingredients waft lazily through the space and the sounds of the kitchen staff slapping dough around preparing the next pie intermixes with the music.
The staff seated me and then brought English menus. I chose the Forte, a marinara-based pizza topped with spicy salami, olives, mozzarella and basil leaf. At almost $17, the pizza was more expensive than its Italian siblings, but for Japan, the price was on par with other pizzas I have tried.
Drinks were not included, nor were any sides.
Taking my first bite made me flash back to a pizza parlor I frequented overlooking the bay of Naples. The fresh, sweet flavor of the basil leaf coupled with the tart marinara sauce swam over my taste buds while the salami and cheese gave the bite a creamy mouthfeel with a little added spice. The olives finish off the experience with a bit of brine.
Finishing off my meal and feeling nostalgic, I ordered an espresso, a classic lunchtime drink, for about $3. Sitting, sipping on my coffee, the thought went through my head that this might not have been just like Italy, but it did come really close.
Pizzeria Napoletana CanteraDirections: A five-minute walk from Tachikawa Station’s South exit. Google coordinates MCW6+VP. Address: 190-0023 Tokyo, Tachikawa, Shibasakicho, 2 Chome−2−1
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday and holidays.
Costs: Between $5 and $20
Information: Phone: +81425256290; online: mothersgroup.jp/shop/cantera_tachikawa.html