Sometimes when traveling or living abroad, all you want to eat is something nice, familiar and delicious. Pizza fits that bill quite nicely, so here is a recommendation for a popular chain of pizzerias you can find across the Greater Tokyo Area.
Pizza Salvatore Cuomo restaurants are easy to find. According to their website, they have over 50 locations in Tokyo alone, not to mention the locations in the surrounding prefectures. While this review is specifically related to the Shonandai location (one of six listed in Kanagawa), it is safe to assume that a similar menu and quality can be found at any of their branches.
What is unique about Pizza Salvatore Cuomo is its history. Locals frequently refer to it as “the restaurant that won that big worldwide pizza award.” The award they are referring to is “Pizzafest,” an annual event held in Naples, Italy to determine the best chef of Neapolitan pizzas in the world. That award has been famously won by Makoto Onishi, a Japanese chef trained in Italy. Onishi was then hired by Naples native Salvatore Cuomo, owner of the Pizza Salvatore Cuomo restaurant chain in Japan (and “celebrity chef,” according to his Twitter page).
The first thing customers notice when entering the restaurant is the large, wood burning pizza oven prominently displayed in the open kitchen. Whether it is more for ambiance or functionality is irrelevant: it serves both quite well. The restaurant itself is a fairly standard, somewhat-trendy location that would be appropriate for a date or small group gathering without being overly fancy.
The menu provides a variety of pasta and salad dishes, but the primary focus here is the pizza. Pizzas come in two sizes, 23cm or 27cm. The small size ranges in price from ¥1,050 to ¥1,900, while the medium goes from ¥1,280 to ¥2,300. The most expensive is the D.O.C., the winner of the Pizzafest prize, which is topped with cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, and is very good. Pictured in the accompanying photos to this article is the “Pizza ‘Nduja,” topped with “spicy pork ham,” “spicy salami,” and some various vegetables and spices. It’s delicious, but hardly lives up to the “hot” warning it receives on the menu. The Pizza ‘Nduja goes very well with the “spicy oil” which is provided for dipping. Also pictured is the “Calabrese,” which features eggplant, tomato, anchovy, olives, garlic, peppers, oregano, basil and mozzarella, a delicious mixture. Another recommendation that is not pictured here is their version of the four cheese pizza, called “Pizza Quattro Formaggi con Mieli,” whose honey mixes nicely with the cheeses.
Make no doubt about it: the pizza is quite good. But is it worth the hype? I have to say no. What Pizza Salvatore Cuomo provides is solid, authentic, traditional-style pizza that everyone seems to enjoy, but it doesn’t go much beyond that. Expect good pizza: don’t expect the best pizza of your life, and unfortunately that is what the hype (and cost) suggests.
Pizza Salvatore Cuomo also has a very good selection of alcohols. There is an extensive wine list including a house red and white. Beers include imports such as Heartland on draft and Guinness. The drink menu also includes sangria, a variety of highballs, some classic cocktails, and even some Japanese liquor.
Menus are written in both Japanese and English, and are filled with nice pictures. The restaurant also delivers, and has a special phone number for delivery calls. Delivery orders can also be placed online at the restaurant’s website, but it is only in Japanese.