Rigoletto Bar and Grill, Roppongi Hills
Pretty much every restaurant, at every price point, has good and bad points. Rigoletto in Roppongi Hills does so much right and yet so much wrong. I had been there once about six years ago before my first son was born. It was a Saturday night and I was on a date at one of the hottest spots in town, the bar area was hopping with the who's who of cosmopolitan Tokyo, and if you didn't have a reservation, forget about it. I remembered the club music, the excellant cocktails, and tapas with an open kitchen. So when some friends invited us there for dinner recently, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that kids are welcome for dinner.
I must say I was excited to be heading out to a trendy location once again, even if the kids were in tow. We arrived for our 6 p.m. booking and the place was already buzzing—about half a dozen men at the bar, and the restaurant was about half full. Our party was four adults and three kids, and we were seated in one of the cozy horseshoe booths with a large table (great for enclosing the kids). The restaurant had a great child seat for the toddler, and the other two (aged five and seven) were happy enough to sit with us on the sofa (high chairs are also available).
The kids were a little noisy, but as the music was quite loud I felt content that they weren’t bothering any of the other diners.
The food in Rigoletto is “casual Mediterranean,” but they seemingly have everything. The tapas list is extensive and looked perfect for starters. We dove straight in and ordered the caprese salad, quesadillas, bread and pate, as well as some beers and martinis for the adults and juices for the kids. The service was pretty much lightning quick, with plenty of staff on hand (some of whom speak English), and the food and drinks arrived within four minutes. But despite the great service, the food brought mixed reviews. The drinks, caprese and quesadillas were excellent, but the pate seemed a little stale and hard, as was the recommended meat board.
Next we ordered pasta and pizza for the kids, which is always a safe option. The kids loved the rich tomato arabiata (¥900) and the pizza margherita (¥1,800) was also a hit. The fish salad featuring a herb infused catch of the day was extremely good, with the warm, crispy grilled fish perfectly complementing the fresh leaf salad with balsamic and radish dressing. The seafood pasta was light and full flavored, so also great. One of the guys had the prime rib steak (¥1,800), which proved to be a rather small cut of tough meat (particularly as he asked for it to be cooked medium and got well done). You can can ask for a larger steak on ordering (¥600 for another 50 grams), but I would recommend skipping that and going with the pasta.
At this point the restaurant was full and the bar was quickly filling up too, which is when we noticed a lot of cigarette smoke drifting over from the bar. As any parent knows, this is a big no-no when you’re out with the kids. We asked to be moved, but were told it was not possible due to other bookings. Considering we had made our reservation over a week in advance and the staff knew we had children in our group, it was a big disappointment and just poor seating to put us next to the bar.
We decided to finish up with some dessert and went for the chocolate cassata with pistaccio ice cream (¥600). This was devilishly good, but will have you on a treadmill for a week to work it off. We also ordered some ice cream (¥400) for the kids and coffee (¥460) for the adults.
We were surprised that the whole bill came to just around ¥20,000 for the seven of us, so definitely excellent value for money, especially in Tokyo.
I left with very mixed feelings about Rigoletto. I think if you are young and looking for an exciting club atmosphere, a decent meal and an swanky place in Roppongi Hills to enjoy drinks without breaking the bank, then this place is for you. If you are with kids, I recommend trying to get a private room or at least request to be seated away from the bar at dinner, and try and get there early as well. I do plan to go back, and I will navigate the menu on a trial-and-error basis (we already learned what not to get).
Address: 5F West Walk Roppongi Hills, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Open: Mon-Sat, 11 a.m.-5 a.m. (lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m.); Sun and hols, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m.)
* Kids are allowed weekdays for lunch only, as well as for dinner on Saturday and Sunday.