Italian Cuisine: Latina

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Mr. Kojima is far from being a new face in Shizuoka City. For a long time he was the chef at Ciccio Ristorante, renamed Via de Burgo since then, before he had to take a year-long holiday due to health problems. In september 2006 he came back with a vengeance with his own restaurant, Latina, south of Shizuoka City JR Station, the fastest-changing area in town.
His (forced) move could not have happened at a better time when he took over an enormous cafe to modify it in a restaurant with a minimum of work. One can sit at a table away from the kitchen or next to it, or at a long counter overlooking Mr. Kojima’s kitchen.

Not only the food is great and very reasonably-priced, but the wine list is definitely top-class.
Now, I would suggest anyone to have a word with the master of the place before choosing one’s nectar as they are not all featured on the menu. The two friends who visited the place last Friday in my company being extremely knowledgeable, I chose a Rosso di Montalcino 2006 from Toscana. A bit young I admit, but with plenty of swirling around it did pretty well with our first order.

Although the ever-changing menu is written for all to see on a blackboard above your heads, you could always get your favourite dishes by notifying Mr. Kojima a few days in advance.
In any case, the antipasto misto was a beauty including homemade ham, crostini with homemade liver paste, omelette, meat balls, ratatouille and so forth.

Alright, I should have done my homework and prepared a menu beforehand, but as my friends intend to go as far as to organize a wine-tasting dinner there, it is only postponed!
So, to follow up in accordance with the wine, we ordered roasted guinea fowl (above)

roasted quail (notice the yellow-fleshed potatoes. Not yams, but a different variety of potatoes served as wedges with their skin, perfect!),

and a soft, so tender, venison stewed in red wine!
All cooked to precision but without any ostentation. Solid, delicious, homely fare, like in the Italian country!
Rowena, don’t kill me! And don’t ask where the Missus was!

As we still had some beautiful homemade bread left in the basket, we could not resist ordering a somewhat extravagant Carbonaione 1998 to go with some cheese in lieu of dessert. Mind you, it is only the first of a few more surveys. I shall be able to tease the likes of Memory Girl and Foodhoe later!

For this time I’ll be content with teasing Gaijin Tonic when I tell him that he Master of the place came with no less than eight kinds of Grappa for after drinks (on the house!) and two homemade liqueurs with lemon and orange!

Holy macaroni! I can tell you it was about time we took our leave as two of us were working from 9:00 a.m. the next day! Look forward to the next article!

422-8062 Shizuoka City, Suruga Ku, Inagawa, 1-1-29
Tel. & Fax: 054-289-6522
Business hours: 11:45~14:00 (Saturday, Sunday & National Holidays only)
Closed on Mondays (or Tuesday if Monday is a National Holiday)
Credit cards OK

6 thoughts on “Italian Cuisine: Latina”

  1. The lady helps Italian cheeses mature in her own restaurant, not make them but look forward to the article!
    I hope your shiso will come out fine this time!


  2. I can’t wait for the interview with the only Japanese Grand French Cheese Sommelier. Any woman who can make italian cheese is a near goddess to me. 😉

    As for the shiso, I had to replant! My week long absence during a period when it was hot (instead of the predicted clouds) did some damage to my seedlings. Right now there are a few seedlings peeking out of the soil…I’m crossing my fingers for luck!


  3. The Japanese are a bit crazy about Italian Cuisine, especially pasta and pizza…
    The difference is that in a big city like Shizuoka (800,000) there is enough competition to encourage a (very) few restaurants to cook and serve “real Italian” Cuisine. We are lucky as I have already found 3 well above standard. The three of them have a great (extravagant) Italian wine list, a sure indicator of quality and commitment!


  4. LOL!
    French fries are not French! They were first made in Belgium where everything was fried for fear of water!
    Would you believe that the French cultivated potatoes for their flowers first!


  5. Kill you? 😉 Bah! I can only laud you for having the wisdom to share all of the details. Italian terms are forgivingly interchangeable with english. Not true with french. My challenged knowledge of french terminology would lessen a fine meal drastically, I think. For example: french fries instead of pommes frites (and that is a bad example!). 😆


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