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CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Trying to find good Italian food in Japan can be a challenge.

Sometimes the kitchen may have substituted one classic ingredient for something that looks similar, such as little chunks of gorgonzola cheese replaced with little chunks of cream cheese, as I once experienced. I’ve even heard of getting served Japanese noodles under the marinara instead of Italian pasta.

Fortunately for anyone living near Camp Zama, Ugo’s doesn’t take shortcuts to satisfy your Italian cravings, and it won’t empty your wallet.

Decorated just like any Italian restaurant you would find back home, right down to the checkered tablecloths, Ugo’s offers a variety of dishes including pasta, pizza and even a few Italian desserts, including tiramisu.

The menu doesn’t offer a huge number of options, but what it lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for with quality.

Thick chewy pasta, rich creamy sauces, fresh ingredients and clean presentation make each dish a welcome arrival to your table.

I ordered one of the lunch specials, penne with mushrooms and chicken. It was excellent, and the meal, which came with a salad and drink, arrived at the table quickly. My friend’s spaghetti carbonara with broccoli — which he deemed “awesome” — arrived a short time later.

At first, the portions appeared to be a little small, but they were surprisingly filling, leaving us two big eaters stuffed, with no room for dessert.

Besides the great food and comfortable atmosphere, Ugo’s offers something else that you can’t find at many other restaurants.

Located at the end of the road leading straight out of Zama’s Gate Seven, there’s a parking lot specifically for the restaurant and an inexpensive pay lot right next door. That’s right, space to park near a restaurant in Japan. That’s amore!

To see previous After Hours reviews, go to stripes.com/afterhours.

Ugo’s in Sagamihara, Japan

Prices: Most dishes are less than 1,000 yen. Non-alcoholic drinks are about 400 yen. Alcohol costs around 600 yen. Wine sold by the bottle, 2,000 yen and up.Specialties: Italian food, mainly pastasEnglish menu: YesDress: CasualClientele: Japanese and Americans of all different ages.Location: Bearing right out of Zama’s Gate Seven, follow the road though every stoplight until you hit a T intersection. Ugo’s is across the street on the left.Hours: Lunch served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (last order 2:30 p.m.), dinner from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (last order 10 p.m.)


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