After Hours: Bacar, Naha, Okinawa
Stars and Stripes August 9, 2009
The cozy pizza restaurant was dominated by a tall black oven in the center, like the ones you see in medieval castle kitchens in Europe. Orange flames from the firewood in the furnace were already promising a real good pizza.
Bacar is a swanky pizza place in downtown Naha. The tables are re-creations of pedal sewing machines and American theater chairs from the 1920s, and the lighting fixtures once shone in the cabin of a merchant ship in the 1960s.
The restaurant offers only two kinds of pizzas — Margherita with tomato sauce and basil, and marinara with tomato sauce and sliced garlic. A topping of grape tomatoes is an option.
The simpler the toppings are, the more you can enjoy the authentic taste of the crust, chef and owner Daisuke Nakamura explained from behind the counter as we studied the menu.
Appetizers were special treats, especially the buffalo mozzarella, which comes from Italy every week. The porcelain-white cheese had a smooth and rich taste yet left a very light aftertaste.
After seeing us finishing our appetizers, the chef carefully took a piece of rounded white dough from a wooden box, shaped it and laid it on a long-handled paddle before meticulously placing it in the oven.
Within a minute, his work was on our plate. In one bite, I found that the golden crispy dough and exquisite cheese that melted in my mouth created a taste I had never had before. It was certainly one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had.
Nakamura, who was watching our culinary excitement with amusement, was startled when my friend asked, "By the way, don’t you have Tabasco here?"
I gasped at her innocent but bold question and quickly shifted my eyes to the chef.
"We don’t have anything that alters the taste of our pizza," he proudly replied. "We only offer a completed product."
Dessert was an additional joy. Affogato, meaning "drowned" in Italian — vanilla ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso — was my favorite.
As we walked out of the restaurant, I found myself "drowned" in the good food and fun time that I had at Bacar.
BacarLocation: Kumoji, Naha, Okinawa
Hours: lunch (Monday through Friday), 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner (daily), 5:30-11 p.m.
Prices: Lunch, 1,000 yen for a set menu of pizza with a choice of salad or noodle and a dessert or espresso; dinner, pizza 1,575 yen, buffalo mozzarella with sliced ham 1,680 yen, locally grown roast chicken salad 890 yen, summer vegetables in tomato sauce 700 yen; drinks 360-890 yen; desserts 550-650 yen.
English menu: No, but the open kitchen allows you to just point to place an order.
Clientele: Mostly Japanese, but Americans are certainly welcome. Couples and friends.
Directions: Drive Highway 58 south to Naha and turn right at the Kumoji Intersection. Proceed with the road, passing one traffic signal, and turn left at the next corner. Turn left again after you see a parking lot with a sign saying NPC. Bacar is on your left before reaching a T-section.