The modern primitive
Claim to fame: Elevated wood-fire grilling
Reason to go: Inspired takes on Italian fare, served kappo-style
To look out for: Fresh pasta dishes with a Japanese twist
We love Tacubo for its disarming and delicious simplicity. No weird science here, just ingredients that pop and flavors that sing. Daisuke Takubo’s contemporary Italian cooking combines the Apollonian directness of wood-fire grilling with the subtle refinement of Japanese haute cuisine. The food speaks to our primal love of flame-broiled meats and our modern-day sophisticated sensibilities. Japanese touches, both in presentation and décor, remind you that you’re in Tokyo.
The chilled corn soup, made from Hokkaido’s sugary Gold Rush corn, water, and a pinch of salt, will make you feel like you’re tasting corn again for the first time. The unconventional union of baby mussels, dill, and chunks of tender winter melon works so well in the linguine you’ll wonder why you haven’t thought of it before. Laden with cilantro and shaved Pecorino cheese, homemade pasta with mutton sausage is equally brilliant. Things get serious when the chef puts on his glasses to stoke the fire. Succulent cuts of meat emerge from the grill, glistening with fat and crispy at the edges. The cartoon-like rubber pigs at each end of the counter indicate Takubo’s protein of choice. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, you can opt for a plate of irresistibly stinky cheeses, although it would be a shame to miss the fresh fruit-based desserts.
Italy and France dominate the nicely curated wine list. Single-harvest pour-over coffees are available in addition to espresso drinks. There are two small private rooms in the back for parties of four to six. Otherwise, you’ll want to grab one of the eight seats at the stylish counter, where you can absorb the sights, sounds, and smells of the kitchen.