A December visit to Aoyama restaurant Angelo
impressed us so much that, when we heard about its impending
renovation, we shook our heads in wonder. The kitchen excelled
at light and healthy Japanese food, and the interior, with
several distinct rooms and inventive décor, struck just
the right note for this trendy part of town. Surely, we thought,
this place isn't broke-so why fix it? After
several meals at the new Angelo, though, we have to agree
that a better restaurant has emerged.
Angelo's interior is now split into three areas, called
Japanese, Lounge and Sicily. It's this last part, where
diners can enjoy Southern Italian fare, that represents the
most radical departure from what came before.
The old Angelo's funky, futuristic interior belied
the simplicity of its traditional obanzai (home-cooked) cuisine.
With basic ingredients that were simply prepared, the food
was perfect for young Tokyoites in need of a meal that reminded
them of okasan's kitchen. On our first visit, we were
especially impressed with the anko (monkfish) ponzu (¥900)
and cold udon, the latter of which came as part of a very
reasonable ¥5,000 "Soho" set menu.
During several recent lunches, we found the Sicilian fare
to be just as winning as the washoku. Pasta Sets range from
¥1,000-¥1,200 and come with salad, excellent focaccia
with olive oil, choice of pasta, and a drink; the Pasta Course
(¥1,800) adds dessert and antipasto. Typically there's
a choice of three noodles, usually tagliatelle and spaghetti
among them, prepared with seafood and tomato- or cream-based
sauces. Each dish we've tried has been wonderful-the
broccoli and scallop tagliatelle a particular standout-highlighted
by firm, chewy pasta. Other favorites include Sicilian blood
orange juice (¥735) and to-die-for panna cotta (¥735).
Nor has Angelo shied away from its Japanese
roots. The lunchtime kaisen donburi (¥1,800) comes swimming
in seafood, including maguro, ebi, uni and red snapper, while
the juicy Japanese-style hamburger is topped with grated daikon.
Our fellow Angelo devotees seem to enjoy both cuisines, too.
The Japanese and Sicily areas are equally well-populated by
an interesting mix of moneyed office workers, Omotesando creative
types, and dressed-down passers-by.
One thing that hasn't changed in Angelo's redesign
is the quirky charm of its interior. The space, though not
large, houses a variety of rooms, each with its own mood.
The rear Japanese area has counter seats, two private booths,
and a small row of tables, while the classy, wood-paneled
Sicily section faces out over a prime people-watching spot
on Aoyama Dori. Luminescent floor tiles give off a golden
glow beneath the dramatically raked sofas in the central Lounge
area, which stays open until the early hours. Service, too,
has remained affable and prompt, and most staff speak at least
modicum of English.
The successful relaunch of Angelo as a top dining and nightspot
proves that sometimes broken things can be fixed.
3-5-14 Kita Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel:
03-3402-0303. Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-3am. Nearest
stn: Omotesando, exit A3 (past Timberland on Aoyama Dori).
Photos courtesy of Angelo