Nothing beats fresh pasta. Dry spaghetti and its numerous variants are fine — indeed, some can be truly excellent — but it’s always an extra pleasure to sit down to a plate of soft, delicate linguine or pappardelle made in-house the same day.

That said, not all pasta fresca is equal. When the dough is mixed, rolled and then sliced or fashioned into individual pieces by hand — rather than simply passed through the blades of a cutting machine — it gains an extra level of lightness. Watch sfoglina Chisato Sugino in action, and you will see how it’s done.

Her shop, Pastificio Sugino, is a modest operation housed inside a converted tailor’s shop on a side street in residential Nishikoyama. But it’s just the right size to fit a small workspace by the front window; a deli counter with a gleaming La Cimbali espresso machine at the door; and a kitchen at the rear with a laid-back dining space big enough to seat seven or eight people at a time.

Before opening four years ago, Sugino traveled to Bologna to learn the skills of sfoglia, the silky-smooth pasta style of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. Using fresh eggs, flour and a meter-long mattarello rolling pin, she carefully kneads air into the dough to produce tagliatelle and lasagna with a velvety texture and a surface just rough enough to pick up plenty of pasta sauce.

Those are her two standard daily pastas, but she also offers three or four other kinds, depending on the time of year and her whim. Frilly mafaldine; fat tubes of rigatoni; long, sinuous bucatini; tightly rolled Sicilian casarecce: Each comes with its own rich ragu, creamy sauce or other seasonal accompaniment, all prepared by Sugino’s longtime resident cook and collaborator, Sayaka Ito.

The basic lunchtime set menu, available either for eating in or takeout, comes with a side salad and optional coffee and dessert — don’t miss the tiramisu. But for dinner (Friday through Sunday), Ito adds a number of side dishes that are as satisfying as her pasta. Standouts include her caponata, with almonds and raisins; a super salad combination of fig, walnut and feta cheese; and her spicy, “lemony” chicken, infused with spices and lemongrass.

Two further recommendations: Ito’s smooth, soft pumpkin gnocchi, which she pairs with Daisen chicken, mushrooms and Gorgonzola, and the spinach lasagna, topped with a rich layer of molten cheese. And as you leave, be sure to pick up a packet or two of the superb mushroom sauce and Sugino’s pasta to make at home.

Mafaldini pasta with smoked mackerel and semidried tomato at Pastificio Sugino | ROBBIE SWINNERTON
Mafaldini pasta with smoked mackerel and semidried tomato at Pastificio Sugino | ROBBIE SWINNERTON

Fresh pasta is also the calling card of the new Lina Stores, which opened this summer in Omotesando. It’s the first overseas branch of the classic Lina deli in London’s Soho, revered since 1944 for its quality Italian ingredients.

Lina already operates three restaurants in the British capital, with more due soon. Now it has tied up with the Takashimaya department store group to bring the same smart-casual, all-day Italian-light dining to Tokyo. Three months in, the formula seems to be proving no less popular.

Decked out in a fetching mint-green livery, Lina Stores is big and bright, with a large deli display case and shelves of provisions adorning one end of the dining room. While most of the 50 seats inside are crammed in tighter than feels warranted, there are also half a dozen more tables al fresco.

There’s a good selection of starters, most notably the polpette di melanzane, small spherical croquettes filled with creamed eggplant. But, as in London, it’s the pasta selection that dominates the menu, with 10 kinds to choose from, made fresh in a glass-fronted chamber visible from the restaurant floor.

While the quality is good, and everything’s cooked efficiently and well, what’s missing at Lina Stores is any sense of personality. That may develop over time but unless you crave bling and truffles with your tagliolini or agnolotti, the friendly, artisan scale of Pastificio Sugino remains far more appealing.

Koyama 5-22-7, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 142-0062; 03-6426-6477; www.pastificio.jp open 10 a.m.-6:45 p.m. (L.O.), Fri.-Sun. 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. (L.O.), eat-in from 11:30 a.m.; closed Tue., 1st & 3rd Wed.; lunch from ¥1,450, dinner a la carte; takeout available; nearest station Nishikoyama; nonsmoking; major cards accepted; some English spoken

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