Photo: Jason Kuttner

Bar Stretto di Mano

Serrano ham takes center stage at this Italian joint

By Carrie Jacobs    - 3 min read

Set back from the street with large windows and soft lighting, my curiosity was piqued the first time I walked past and stopped to peer in the windows of Bar Stretta di mano in Zama. Well designed with sleek wooden tables and comfy stools, the interior is inviting and the bar impressively stocked. Once inside, you’ll find that Serrano ham takes center stage at this Italian joint.

I first popped into Bar Stretta di Mano for a glass of wine on a warm spring day; I opted for white and was served a dry French selection with crisp notes of pear and citrus (500 JPY). Not particularly hungry, but intrigued by the ham haunch displayed on the bar, I asked to see a menu. Though they do not have a menu in English, the owner was gracious enough to translate it in its entirety, selections include antipasto, salads, pizza and main entrees. As I waved goodbye to him, I vowed to return and sample the fair. A couple of weeks later, I did just that.

My dinner companion and I walked into Bar Stretta one rainy evening for dinner. On spotting the ham haunch, he said that is was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. We of course had to try it, but first things first. We started with glasses of the house red, which was a lovely, simple selection. We then shared a bowl of the minestrone soup with a nice home made broth. Our next course of pesto pizza was absolutely delicious; the sauce was well balanced and combined with the Parmesan for a perfect medley. The crust was soft and chewy. I almost ordered another pie, but showed restraint as the main course was on its way.

We decided to share a plate of pasta with pepperoncin and Serrano ham. The pasta was perfectly al dente, lightly dressed in olive oil, spices and pepperoncin. The ham had a rich, smoky flavor, it melted in my mouth and I was not disappointed. You can order it by itself as an appetizer, on pizza or on pasta. I highly recommend that you give it a try.

Content and full, we decided to enjoy an after dinner beverage, a 10 year old Japanese whiskey for my companion (800 JPY) and a cointreau for me. At Bar Stretta the ice is perfectly rounded by hand, a work of art. I know this is common in Japan, but I’m always amazed.

Bar Stretta di mano offers small plates (antipasto, mixed nuts, fresh sliced ham, mushrooms, etc), salads, pizzas and main entrees (300 – 900 JPY). Toppings vary from vegetarian or mushroom to seafood or ham.

I'm always pleased to find a well-priced quaffable house wine; I can vouch for both the French red and white available by the glass at Bar Stretta (500 JPY).

Bar Stretta di mano is low lit and modern, a place I would normally reserve for a night out with my girlfriends or date night. Though given the reasonable prices, you can go anytime for lunch or for a moderately priced dinner.

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Carrie Jacobs

Carrie Jacobs @carriel.n.jacobs

Hailing from Portland Oregon, I am a recent transplant to Zama, Japan here in Kanagawa. Having worked for a high school international exchange organization for close to 8 years, I'm inspired by all things intercultural and love to travel! When in a new country I am like a sponge, absorbing as much cultural nuisance and norm as possible.Though I leave room for spontaneity during an outing or trip, I utterly enjoy doing advanced research; reading reviews of hotels, restaurants and sites to visit. I'm involved with Japan Tourist because I'd like to share my observations and recommendations with locals and travelers alike.

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