There is nothing more satisfying than being in an unexpected place far away from Italy to discover a truly autenticoitaliano experience. In Sapporo, in the island of Hokkaido, north of the Japanese mainland, Where the fish is ever fresh and not touched by Fukushima, in a small street one finds Il Genovese, the only Italian led chef ristorante in Sapporo. Giulio Vierci cam to Sapporo 20 years ago, bringing grandmothers recipes from Genova and a true desire to benefit from the fresh ingredients found here.
As I conducted at the Pacific Music Festival 2016, I was reminded bat Italy remains the 2nd largest consumer of Italian cuisine. So I asked where? Ecco!
Not only is the pasta made a la casa, the Genovese, Gorgonzola, and Bolognese are absolutely perfect in consistency and flavor. Guilin spares no amount of love in making the sauces. He takes great pleasure, smiling and explaining every step of the process. A multi-tasked, he has a musicians innate sense of timing. Mid-sentence he will return to the stove to toss the sauce or pour an excellent wine into your glass.
Before I indulge in complimenting his pesto, as one would expect a chef from Genova to do well, I must emphasize the size of Genovese is the same as a sushi bar: counter service and a few tables. The wine cooler takes up more room than the entry way itself. Inside one finds a marvelous selection of unique Italian wines from Piemonte, Tuscany and Veneto. Case in Pont: Cesari Jéma 2010, 100% Corvina and impossible to find, and the 2005 Cesari Bosan Valpolicella, Amarone style. These wines are superb, rare to find on a list, but worth the extra cost of Japanese import tax just to sample them with this exquisite cucina.
Giulio makes his meals family style. The antipasti is to share: fresh mortadella, prosciutto do Parma and spicy salami. Marinated artichokes, burrata (yes!) and homemade focaccia. The pastas have been declared perfectly handmade, and the second I take advantage of the specialty of Hokkaido lamb cooked scottaditto, chicken diavolo and wagging Japanese beef that melts in your mouth.
The finale of this operatic gourmet treat is a simple raspberry sorbet but with caption goat cheese to add a texture and saltiness to the sweet fruit.
Sapporo may be famous for its beer gardens, it's lamb BBQ, it's ramen noodles and fresh seafood, but Genovese shows that autenticoitaliano is alive and well in the north of Japan. Bravo E Dino arigato!!!