Il Rigolettino da Gigi, Kyodo リゴレテイーノ 経堂
Rigolettino da Gigi is a nicely fitted-out neighbourhood Italian restaurant located in the Tokyo suburb of Kyodo. I was interested enough after having read about the chef in a Japanese foodies magazine to make the hike out from the Ebisu home base to the wilds of Setagaya to give him a try. According to the mag, he worked for some years in Italy at Michelin 2-star establishments, so being a sucker for anything the tyre people touch I expected some interesting work.
I was not disappointed. For 2,800 yen you can indulge in a proper Italian course menu featuring antipasto, pasta, meat or fish, dessert and coffee. The antipasto of the day was a shot glass of chicken liver mousse, a couple of sardines with dabs of roe, some dressed lettuce and a stuffed baby squid with an soft egg, onion jam and ink sauce. Really rather interesting. This was accompanied by four baby bread rolls, two tinted with squid ink and the others looking more like normal bread. The baby rolls were fresh and tasty but oh - the horror - they were clearly being rationed. We had to ask for more later in the meal and only got two of the ink variety. Nooooo! Don't ration the bread - it's rule # 1!!!
Anyway, the antipasto was followed by a spaghetti with white fish, fennel, olive oil and with hints of orange. This was pleasant enough, but perhaps the fish was a little overcooked and the overall flavour a little too subtle for my liking. Still more than a pass though. For the main, my dining partner and I parted ways. He had pork on liver and wine risotto, topped with a clear jelly. I opted for the wagyu topped with tomato confit and uni (sea urchin) on a demi-glace sauce. I tasted my dining partner's pork and it was good. My beef and uni was a really interesting combination, one that I never would have thought to do - a classy j-style surf and turf!!
Dessert was caramel ice-cream covered with pumpkin (like a mont blanc), bottomed with a thin meringue biscuit and swizzled with pumpkin sauce, caramel foam and raspberry puree, topped with a paper thin slice of chocolate. It wasn't a refined dessert but very much hit the spot. This was followed by a good coffee. Last time I was in Italy I had not a single bad cup of coffee - so clearly the time in Italy rubbed off in this one important area.
The surroundings and service made for a pleasant Sunday lunch (except if you really like bread) and I'd be more than happy to recommend that you give them a try if you live nearby or happen to be in the area.