L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele: A True Classic Never Goes Out Of Style
Simplicity Is King When It Comes To Perfection
Even with nearly 150 years of history, this pizzeria has never felt so fresh!
One of the best perks about living in Tokyo is having some of the most famed restaurants around the world set up shop for all Tokyoites to enjoy. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele is one of those legendary shops that chose to set up its first location outside of Naples in the bustling area of Ebisu. Founded in 1870, L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele has been obsessed over by millions of fans including Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert in the movie Eat, Pray, Love.
New York Vibe
Walking into this Tokyo location feels like a significant deviation from its original. Instead of the standard 100-year old hole-in-the-wall charm, expect a more basic and modern New York vibe. The restaurant is usually quite busy so there is always a fun, lively energy in the dining space. The decor is simple, but the star of the show is still on display for all to see—the tiled wood oven.
To Cheese Or Not To Cheese
Regardless of the decor appearing to be quite different from the original, the menu stays pretty true to form. Simple choices and simple ingredients make ordering a dream for the indecisive, with only two options when it comes to ordering your pizza. Keeping in line with its original location, you have the option to choose between Margherita or Marinara—in one size only, however, you do have the option of doubling up on toppings. Go ‘DOPPIA’ meaning double the cheese on the Margherita pizza or ‘Maxi’ meaning double the size of the marinara pizza. Of course, when we ordered, we doubled the fun on both.
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The Margherita DOPPIA is a creamy slice of heaven, with a slight bite to it. The marinara is unexpectedly complex, incorporating a balanced mixture of spices including oregano and freshly sliced garlic.
Most would agree that the secret to L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele’s success lies in its use of natural ingredients and a dough-making process that has been passed down from generations. It’s also worth noting that L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele directly sources its ingredients; the cheese is brought in straight from Naples, and it really does make all the difference.
Start It Off Right
While the pizza-ordering process may be overly simple, you can still get lost in the various options of appetizers and seasonal menu items. Starting off with the L’Antica salad is a perfect way to go. The salad comes topped with delicate slices of prosciutto, parmesan, and hidden golden nuggets of pizza dough rolled into crouton form—go wild and try adding it to a slice of your pizza! Once you’ve refreshed your palate with some salad, move on to the Carpaccio of the Day. We happened to score a plate of melt-in-your-mouth amberjack drizzled with olive oil and tiny red peppers sprinkled on top.
Once you’re ready to indulge in some warm dishes, I suggest moving onto an order of the meatballs, which are cooked in a tomato sauce reminiscent of a gravy your Italian friend’s grandmother would make. You can conveniently order just two so the portion size is small enough that you can save room for the incredible balls of Zeppoline. Zeppoline fritters are adorable little dough balls kneaded with raw seaweed, described on the menu as “Naples soul food.” The flavor is almost nutty and buttery and surprisingly zero fishy taste at all.
All in all, I would say the appetizers were just as much the star of the meal as the pizza itself, so be sure to save room for a little extra variety in your meal. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele offers light cocktails such as Campari and soda, limoncello, and select Italian wines.
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The night we dined at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele it happened to be someone’s birthday, but this was not just any cake-and-candle song and dance. The moment the lights dimmed to an almost pitch black, a performance ensued, transforming the restaurant into something that felt like a mini Broadway production. A man who was casually eating dinner just moments before stood up and started belting out “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Grobin in a pitch-perfect tone. Once he finished the first stanza, a second spotlight appeared on a waiter at the front of the restaurant who continued to sing. Finally, for the last part of the song, the restaurant manager chimed in to harmoniously finish the ballad. When it all ended and the lights came on, the restaurant erupted in a standing ovation, and I was left flabbergasted at the beautiful performance that had just occurred.
Apparently, this sweet idea came from the manager and is something you are able to reserve ahead of time over the phone—something I highly recommend you try on your next special day.
The Legacy Continues
With its perfectly simple ingredients, charming ambiance, and classic Italian fare, it’s really no surprise as to why L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele has been around for nearly 150 years.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele chose Ebisu as its first foreign location but has since opened additional locations in Fukuoka, Los Angeles, London, and Barcelona in case you are traveling and get a craving for that perfect slice of pizza. It’s worth mentioning that the menu at the Ebisu location only exists in Italian and Japanese, but with a relatively simple menu, it’s not too hard to figure out. The staff is also very friendly so they always try their best to accommodate any English speaking patrons.
If you’re in Tokyo, be sure to stop by the Ebisu location and enjoy the delightful flavors of Naples!
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
Address: 4-4-7 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku 150-0013
Business Hours: Mon to Fri 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m., Sat 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sun 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Average Cost: Lunch Calzone sets start at ¥1,200. Dinner items range between ¥900 and ¥2,000. Cocktails and glasses of wine around ¥700.