Tokyo Pizza Perfection?
Is Savoy the best Pizza in Tokyo?
Savoy Azabujuban 麻布十番店 - Neapolitan style pizzas in Tokyo
In a small shop in Roppongi, with seats for fifteen people and a small prep counter, stands a Japanese made wood fired oven. It looks like the remnants of an ancient submarine, lined in enormous rivets, the only opening glowing a deep orange red. A small stack of wooden boxes on the counter hints at the meal to come. And everyone is transfixed by the chef as he opens one of the boxes, dusts the dough inside, then carefully pulls one out with a metal spatula. With a flick of his hand a puff of flour coats the small space on the counter and he begins to work the dough. Slowly stretching it out into a familiar disc with ragged bulbous edges. It's clear that he's done this a thousand times, there's no uncertainty in the movements, just a practiced languidness that seems both hard earned and part show.
In a couple circular smears with a ladle he covers the dough with tomato sauce. He tears fresh basil from their stems and drops them haphazardly onto the pie. Then he scatters small hunks of mozzarella more methodically over the Margherita offering. The the only other option, the Marinara, requires a bit more work as he cuts paper thin slices of fresh garlic freshly over the sauce. A quick sprinkle of herbs and each pie is carefully transferred to the peel and then into the mouth of the oven.
Pizza Mastery at Savoy
Just ninety seconds later he pulls the blistered bubbling pie which is plated, sliced, and placed before you in seconds. One of the few times I'd recommend taking pictures for a minute since the pizza is still scaldingly hot. With the first bite you understand that this pizza rivals anything made anywhere else in the world. While the process above is the same all over the world, the results can be compared to anything made in Napoli, New York City, or any of the best pizzerias.
The dough has a balance of crunch and chew while not overly yeasty or sour. The tomato sauce is fresh and bright. The cheese is light, incredibly milky, while the basil is fragrant and lightly roasted. But these are the same ingredients used all over the world in countless pizzerias.
Along our travels we've tried pizzas in NYC, Europe, Asia, South America and there are only a few standouts. It is the attention to detail that makes the difference. The preparation of the dough, the temperature of the oven, the knowledge and timing to pull the pies, the simple preparations of sauce and cheese, the freshness of ingredients. When these handful of ingredients are prepared properly the results are surprisingly delicious yet only a handful of places in the world care enough to take it to these levels.
In New York City there is Roberta's, Lucali's, and some of our other favorite NYC pizzerias - Savoy Azabujuban is right there with them.There are almost always lines to this eatery and it's clear why. Not only is this one of the best pizzerias in Tokyo, it should be in the conversation for best pizza places in the world.
Japanese steel, Japanese wood, 470°c, and fresh ingredients all come together under the skill of this Japanese chef to become something greater than the sum of its parts.