World-class Italian cuisine right in the heart of Tokyo? Surprising as it sounds, that’s exactly what I found during a recent visit to Bulgari’s Il Ristorante, a sleek, elegant dining spot located atop the Italian luxury brand’s Bulgari Tower high-rise in the city’s swanky Ginza neighborhood. Michelin-starred Italian executive chef Luca Fantin, who prides himself on his use of seasonal, top-quality ingredients, blends refined techniques with playful creativity, and although his inventions might best be described as contemporary Italian, he also borrows freely from the Asian country he’s called home for the past five years.
Standout dishes included a creamy dollop of burrata cheese drizzled in olive oil and topped with a green apple foam; a velvety radicchio risotto, wonderfully delicate and bright purple in color; a luscious carrot salad, served warm and complemented with a hint of tangy orange; and a perfectly cooked venison steak ensconced in a sweet-yet-subtle cherry reduction.
Enhancing the meal was the hospitality of Matteo Graziani, Il Ristorante’s general manager. As well as taking superb care of his guests, he impressed with his extensive knowledge of Japanese culinary tradition. Little did I know that the country’s rich volcanic soil is responsible for the sweetness of its melons, or that Japan’s milk cows are treated to massages and the soothing sounds of Mozart!
Finally, after digging into a decadent chocolate-and-hazelnut dessert whimsically arranged in the shape of a deconstructed flowerpot, we headed upstairs to Il Bar, a book-lined lounge on the tower’s 10th floor. There, guests can conclude an evening by sipping expertly crafted cocktails (think: Manhattans made with 17-year-old Suntory whiskey or a delightfully bitter Negroni) and basking in sweeping views of the Tokyo skyline.