Sakanya – Numazu
Sometimes it is an absolute pleasure to be shamefully wrong. In a recent article, I accused a friend of having a terrible sense of direction and as such I shrugged off his directions and took my wife and another friend on a wild goose chase around town trying to find a pizza place.
I did find a pizza place; Pizzeria El Palio.
It was exceptional.
It was also the wrong pizza place.
Once my friend had informed me that I was wrong and there is indeed a pizza place precisely where he had given me directions, there was nothing for it but to make amends and meet him there for a meal and shout him a pizza. The pizza joint he took us to was Sakanya and the pizza was out of this world.
Sakanya is a nondescript little family owned restaurant with a great whopping Italian flag out the front that you cannot miss, on theNumazunorth side. It’s across the road from Ito Yokado shopping center close to the new Shizouka Bank building. You can’t miss it. Well, you can miss it if you are me.
The restaurant is a slice of tiramisu: long, thin, rich with laughter and comfortable like home. We arrived at 7:15pm on a Friday and the place was packed with regulars unwinding from a busy week. Around the walls were large oil paintings with beautiful calming scenes. The hum of the patrons proffered a sense of family. To my left was a traditional set up of tatami and squat tables and to my right was the bar counter and my friend.
My wife and I sidled up to the counter and greeted our friend. He was already getting stuck into some seriously good looking pizza. Between bites he gave us a little introduction to Sakanya. He told us that the one making the pizza was in fact an Italian man who had moved to Japan this year to work in his wife’s family owned restaurant. He informed us that the menu was split into a traditional Japanese short order izakaya with items such as okonomiyaki and gyoza on the menu, while the remainder of the menu was dedicated to pizza.
Our waitress brought us the menu and asked us what we would like to drink in English. We were pleasantly surprised and after ordering a few beers our friend informed us that this waitress was the Italian chef’s Japanese wife who not only spoke good Italian but good English too.
Our waitress shortly came back to ask us what we would like to eat. My wife and I in unison said pizza and asked her what she recommended was best. She proudly puffed out her chest and said all her husbands’ pizzas were good. Quickly perusing the menu I settled for a Napolitan and my wife, a seafood and garlic pizza.
Not long after, the Italian chef poked his head out the window to greet us. He was tall in his late thirties with dark hair and a classically Roman face that was open and friendly and hinted at a touch of cheeky humor. I asked the chef if I could see his pizza oven and the chef excited gestured for me to pop his head around the back into the kitchen. After a brief inspection of the oven I returned to my seat and my wife and friend.
Two sizzling disks of red, rimmed in crusty brown, greeted us about ten minutes after talking to our friend. The combination of melted cheese, tomato sauce and baked bread seduced my gustatory senses. A simple black olive formed the axle of my pizza around which a vibrant red sauce sat atop a light crunchy pizza base. Mozzarella cheese was lightly dispersed over the pizza and a delightfully pungent anchovy rested luxuriously on each slice. The pizza was simple with a sauce tasting of roasted tomato and herb. It was entirely satisfying.
My wife’s pizza was equally remarkable. White wafers of garlic pocked her pizza amidst prawns and scallops. The sauce was delicate enough to allow the seafood to shine but not so light to be boorish.
After we finished our meals the Italian chef stuck his head out through the kitchen and asked us, with a knowing smile, how we liked our pizzas. My wife and I chorused a litany of compliments in English and Japanese before abashedly attempting a “bellissimo“.
The pizza was so good that my wife and I decided to order another small pizza; this time one with translucent slices of pancetta. By this time my friend had ordered from a secret stash of tiramisu that the chef had prepared earlier.
When our small pizza arrived I immediately knew that the pancetta atop the pizza was not of the usual Japanese type. The flesh was a lot darker like the pancetta that I had tasted inEuropeand like the pancetta that I make at home. This was an ingredient that was sourced with care and subsequently perfected the dish.
Again I accosted the chef and congratulated him on his excellent pancetta and asked him where he had sourced it from. He told me, in his broken Japanese, Italian and splattering of English, that he got it from his home town inItaly. I told him about my hobby making cured meats and sausage and he showed me his salami (no pun intended) and pancetta while my wife found some photos of my smoker and cured meat on her phone. This all led to the chef and I having an animated discussion about cured meats that was mediated by his wife’s translation.
Sakanya was a joy; delightful atmosphere, gracious staff and, above all, exceptional pizza. It was so good that I almost did not want to write about it and greedily keep it for myself.
I have learnt an important lesson from this experience. When it is comes to food, sometimes it is important to be wrong. Because the experience of correction often involves good food.
Style: Italian Pizzaria and Family owned Izakaya
English Menu: No sorry Japanese. But if you are really kind you could ask one of the waitresses who speaks great English.
Picture Menu: No sorry.
Phone: 81 55-925-8898
Hours: Evenings except Mondays.
Price: Small pizza 600yen and Large Pizza 1000yen.
Directions: Numazu North Side near Ito Yokado