Bruschetta, beer — this must be northern Italy


Great news. Stefano Fastro, owner-patron- chef of one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Kagurazaka’s inimitable Ristorante Stefano, has just opened a new place. Better news yet, it’s not a spinoff or an attempt to duplicate his original operation. In fact, it’s completely different in feel, although just as authentically Italian.

Called Brusca, it is a bruschetteria — the very first example in Tokyo of this style of bar/cafe/casual eatery that is especially popular in northern Italy. As the name suggests, the focus of the menu is on bruschetta. But here they are very different from the kind of one-bite party-finger-foods that most of us know.

Brusca’s bruschetta look like rectangular open-face toasted sandwiches. Because nobody in Tokyo makes the right kind of bread for it, Fastro has started baking it in-house. He also commissions a naturally- leavened version from an associate in Tochigi who bakes it in a ceramics kiln.

Brusca is also a birreria, which means that the drink of choice is not wine (though it’s available) but beer. Six varieties of draft beer are poured from a stylish chrome dispenser, including Moretti — just about the only Italian suds worth drinking.

A big-screen projection TV shows Serie A Calcio soccer, on some evenings there is live music, and at all times there is a cheerful buzz. No wonder Brusca is becoming a home-from-home for Tokyo’s Italian community.

Hosoya Bldg 2F, 107 Yarai-cho, Shinjuku-ku (Kagurazaka Station on the Tozai Line); open 12 noon-2 p.m. and 6 p.m.-late. For more information call (03) 6457-5788 or visit www.stefano-jp.com