Sometimes in the land of sushi, you just need a little pizza.
Luckily, Hiroshima is one of the best places in Japan to do that. Pizza Riva is a world-class Neapolitan-style pizzeria, located just south of retro-town Yokogawa.
In 1995, the proprietor and chef Takanori Ooka tried Neapolitan pizza for the first time at a pizzeria in Tokyo. At that time, there were only a handful of restaurants in Japan offering a classic Napoli-style pie. It was love at first bite—he knew immediately that he had to learn how to make this pizza and went straight to the source to find out. After studying hand-tossed pizza in Naples, chef Ooka and his family opened Pizza Riva in December 1997, just two years after they tried it for the first time.
They are truly passionate about their craft—the pizzas are baked to a wood-fired, brick-oven flame-kissed perfection with classic toppings like Italian buffalo mozzarella, ricotta, anchovies, rucola, and fresh basil. On our most recent visit there, we started with a chilled glass of white wine, the buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto platter, and a green salad. For pizza we went with the classic margherita and one called “the pirate”, a pomodoro-based pie with mozzarella, artisanal salami piccante, and mushrooms. All of the dishes were fantastic.
The décor is simple, friendly, and relaxing, with both indoor and al fresco dining. The red brick oven was imported directly from Italy and adds to the warmth. Today’s atmosphere was especially jovial, as chef Ooka’s son Shuhei recently took the top prize at the first international “Pizza Napoletana Olympics” held by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) in Naples. Judged by blind taste test, he created the “Best Classic Pizza” among more than 20 member countries.
Pizza Riva is a long-time local favourite. There are English-speaking staff and an English menu with an impressive selection of pizzas and wines. They are open every day except Tuesday. For those on a budget, they offer reasonably-priced lunch specials from 12-2pm. They are open for dinner from 6-10pm. Delivery is also available. Pizza Riva is completely non-smoking.
You can get there easily by tram. It is located at Yokogawa Itchome, between the Betsuin-Mae and Yokogawa streetcar stops. It is just steps away from the river and the streetcar line, and about a 7-minute walk south of Yokogawa Station. There is a 7-11 across the road.