Kelly opened its doors in 2002, adding rustic
Italian dining to the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Hiroo's
shotengai, much to the glee of gourmands looking for sophisticated
yet inexpensive treats. Approaching its ivory-painted building,
we saw through glistening windows that the first floor contained
a counter and several tables spread out over a cobblestone
floor in true Italian "bar" fashion. Once inside,
we proceeded upstairs to a quaint dining hall where vermillion
leather sofas faced a series of white-clothed tables and plain
hardwood chairs. At the end, two picnic tables sat beside
oversized windows, which appeared ready to break open come
the warm weather.
Sipping a bottle of Pellegrino (¥500) while perusing
the menu, we were surprised when a plate of lightly crusted
whitefish in vinegar and olive oil arrived. Our eloquent server
explained it was the "chef's greeting,"
the equivalent of an otoshi we presumed, and we enjoyed them
with loaves of freshly baked bread. Cauliflower potage with
Grana Padano cheese and Japanese parsley (¥600), the
soup of the day, made a delightful start to our evening, the
broth not overly creamy and the flakes of cheese adding a
subtle flavor to the simple and organic taste of cauliflower.
Just as we had slurped up the last drop, the assorted Italian
ham and salami dish (¥1,500) appeared, boasting bountiful
portions of prosciutto, mortadella and salame over a bed of
In the mood for dairy, we opted next for the Castelmagno gnocchi
(¥1,600), which came bathed in a rich and creamy cheese
whose slightly pungent aroma blended well with the floury,
slightly sweet gnocchi. Meanwhile, the bucatini with pancetta
and onions in pecorino tomato sauce (¥1,200) was surprisingly
mild compared to the standard, spicy amatriciana-style dish,
while still capturing the strong scent of fried Italian pork.
We later found out that the chef had trained at the Ristorante
San Marco in Piedmont, Italy, renowned as a family-run restaurant
headed by a woman, and that Kelly's desserts were crafted
by a France-reared female patissier. But before getting to
the glucose, we had our entrée to dig in to-the
fish of the day (market price), which for us turned out to
be broiled sea bass with black olives and tomatoes doused
in a savory blend of white wine and ocean salt.
After slicing off the last of the meaty white flakes, we sat
back sufficiently stuffed and ordered a flute of Asti dessert
wine (¥600). Eyeing our discreet fellow guests-locals
by the looks of their expensive attire-devouring a
pastry, we flipped to the menu's back pages, but struck
the gateaux in favor of homemade gelato (¥700), whose
flavors also vary each night. Ours arrived as raspberry and
Nagano apple sorbet, and honey and vanilla ice cream.
Kelly's final treat was an espresso (¥450) we
enjoyed downstairs before heading into the frosty night. We
agreed the anteroom could host a working lunch, an after-work
drinking session or even a rendezvous for our next appointment
upstairs, perhaps in time for Valentine's.
5-3-15 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5488-7455.
Open daily noon-2:30pm, 6pm-midnight (restaurant), noon-4am
(bar). Nearest stn: Hiroo. www.bar-kelly.com
Photocredit: Courtesy of Kelly