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Am I in Italy or could this be Tokyo?

Can you find delicious Italian food in the heart of Japan’s biggest city? The answer is yes and Mescita is a place where you feel as if you are eating traditional Italian in someone’s home.

Can you find delicious Italian food in the heart of Japan’s biggest city? The answer is yes and Mescita is a place where you feel as if you are eating traditional Italian in someone’s home.

Japan is famous for sushi and ramen, but throughout the country in recent years, first-rate Italian restaurants have opened up to satisfy folks who want more than the traditional diet.

Its cities have Michelin starred Italian establishments, but alongside these pricey, gastronomical temples are terrific pizza joints, informal trattoria, and hip, hidden places.

Real Tokyoites eschew the well-known places and as a matter of pride prefer kakurega, or holes-in-the-wall, often run by a single chef. Kakurega provide customers that prized Japanese feeling of kokochi-yoi, a pub-like coziness you find in your local.

Mescita, located in the Meguro section of Tokyo, epitomizes this old school-hipster trend. It’s like being in NYC’s East Village. A tiny, storefront with about four counter stools and a room with no more a dozen seats where the chef serves up daily specials that are described in handwritten notes on a blackboard. No wine list: “You prefer white or red?” Chef Miki Suzuki will ask. “Any particular grape?”

Pasta al ragu Bolognese.

Pasta al ragu Bolognese.

The starters are crazy fresh, from a tossed argula salad to octopus to oven baked thin eggplant. Roasted baby chicken is juicy, crispy skinned, and perfectly salted. Pasta of Bolognese or one with sardines and toasted bread crumbs are delicious.

The vibe is youthful, energetic, and informal. Music plays, there’s a black and white photo of Sophia Loren scarfing down spaghetti, and rare bottles of Romano Levi’s grappa are on display.

Tortina di Carciofi.

Tortina di Carciofi.

Mescita is a place where you feel as if you are eating in someone’s home: Convivial.

Prices are reasonable and dinner for two with a bottle of wine is about $110. Cash only!

Mescita, Meguro 4-12-13, Meguro, Tokyo

Have you had a great food experience in Japan? Share your tips with us in the comment section below…