Most visitors to Miyazaki will recognize the busy corner busy (by Miyazaki standards) of Tachibana-dori and Takachiho-dori as home to the Yamagataya department store, which also houses a Starbucks. Close to a number of hotels and a good place to catch local buses to places like Miyazaki-jingu or medium distance buses to Aya or Nichinan, the area is also home to a venerable eating establishment known as Alberobello.
My wife has been coming here ever since her student days 20 years ago, but the owner told me that the shop was previously at another location and has actually been in existence since around the early 1980s. One reason for its popularity is that in addition to its already reasonable prices, they also have set lunches for students. And yet you will often find shoppers taking a lunch break or workers from the nearby municipal and prefectural offices having an early supper (it is normally open from 11:30 AM to 9 PM every day but Tuesday, or “until the sauce and crust run out”).
The fare is simple: pizza and pasta. But unlike many places with similar offerings, the sauce and crust are home made, and you can often see bowls of freshly made sauce cooling off on tables near the kitchen.
While not fancy by any means, and with no pretensions of being an authentic southern Italian dining experience, the food is generally tasty. Although there is a long outdated English menu, the choices are fairly standard. Pizzas come in 24 and 30 cm sizes, and if you are a big eater you can pay 200 yen more for a larger order of pasta. In the evenings you can often find lasagna or various risotto dishes, wine and other spirits, while lunch sets come with a soft drink and salad (or ice-cream in lieu of the salad). I recently enjoyed a 24-inch mixed pizza set for 1100 yen while my wife had the seafood risotto set for 950 yen.
It is easy to miss Alberobello. To increase the odds of finding it, approach the shop by walking through the Yamagataya department store arcade that houses Starbucks. As you exit, continue walking along the cobblestone path until you come to the third corner, and turn right on the affectionately named Cat Paw Print Street (Neko no ashi ato dori). The shop, accommodating 35 persons on two floors, is to the right as you turn the corner. There is usually a chalkboard with the day’s offerings right at the entrance to the street, making it a little easier to find. Or just ask a local.
So the next time you are on the way to catch a bus for some sightseeing or shopping along Tachibana street, stop in at Alberobello and enjoy the food and ambience. It is only a short 8 to 10 minute walk along Takachiho street from the west exit of Miyazaki station.
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I first came to Japan in 1979, where I have taught mainly at the secondary and tertiary levels. In early 2012, my wife (a native of Miyazaki) and I decided to move from Tokyo to Miyazaki city with our 3 cats. In addition to my work with Japan Tourist, I teach English to senior citizens and nurses, write and perform folk music ,and volunteer with homeless and disability support groups. I am currently working on a project with organic farmers in the town of Aya to invite kids from Fukushima to participate in summer camps. As if that were not enough, we are planning on opening up an organic cafe/wine bar that will feature products made by local people with disabilities. I hope that I can help many of you discover the warmth of the people in Miyazaki and southern Kyushu.