Just round the corner from swanky Roppongi Hills, Charleston & Sons is a friendly, cheerful pizzeria and Italian restaurant which, despite the location, provides perfectly affordable food and drinks.
It’s on a corner on a side-street just off bustling Gaien Higashi Dori, so while it’s fun and lively, it’s insulated from the noise and crowds of the main drag. I chose to dine Italian style, outside on the terrace: the tables are adorned with quaintly traditional red and white checked tablecloths and little tricolor flags, reminding me of the street cafes of Naples, while a silent TV tuned to a fashion channel kept me in touch with the catwalks of Milan.
I soon had a visit from the friendly English-speaking proprietor who, despite actually being Japanese, has a booming voice and gregarious manner. Between taking orders he spent the evening circulating and chatting with the customers as if at a cocktail party.
While the terrace is a good, relaxed spot for chatting and people-watching, the interior has a more lively atmosphere, in keeping with the Roppongi location. The furnishings are simple and tasteful, there’s a huge plasma TV for sports and music, an eclectic mix of art and soccer paraphernalia around the walls, bouncy uptempo background music, and a whopping big Ferrari flag hanging over the well-stocked bar.
I started with the clam chowder, served unusually in a metal cup; it was creamy and tasty, with a nice crispy piece of bread to dip in it. I’d have liked more bread, but a big picture in front of me did show only one piece, and at less than ¥400 I couldn’t really complain. My main was the salmon and mushroom tagliatelle, also creamy and tasty; the pasta was cooked nicely al dente, the mushrooms fresh and just a little chewy, and the salmon delightfully tender and flavorful.
The menu is available in English, and extends a little beyond Italian food; as well as pizzas, salads and pasta dishes, there’s a range of tapas on offer. A pleasant surprise was the presence of pastas other than spaghetti; as well as the tagliatelle there are pumpkin gnocchi, which I’ll have to investigate on a future visit. The drink menu is notable for a very extensive cocktail list, including tropical favorites such as margaritas (to go with your margherita pizza) and daiquiris.
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I came to Japan from Manchester, England in summer 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I`m not working I write satire at www.iothern.blogspot.com and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check my youtube channel `CunningPunster` for a taste.