The first thought that strikes on visiting Pizzeria Il Tamburello is that Tokyo really needs more restaurants like this. By any standards, it’s an intimate location: there can’t be space for more than about 20 people, spread between a handful of tables and a small counter next to the kitchen (the oven, incidentally, is exactly where it should be: at the front of the shop and clearly visible from the street). Unlike most of the other pizza shops around town, the vintage atmosphere here isn’t an affectation: Il Tamburello’s building has been standing for over half a century now, which is a couple of lifetimes in Tokyo terms, and still retains the lofty ceilings from its previous incarnation as a neighbourhood pharmacy. Owner Yoshihisa Otsubo – who cut his teeth working in kitchens in southern Italy – says he chose the location for its European flavour, and it’s got personality in spades. The atmosphere is best appreciated in the evenings, when the kitchen serves its pizzas – on the salty side, with light, chewy end crusts – at the full, regulation-issue Neapolitan size.
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