It was at the recommendation of the Headhunter, Gentle Reader, that the Child Bride and I were scouring the back streets of Aoyama to find A Presto [map]. Sad to relate, but we did a "blocker" before I decided to call - to find myself standing outside the said establishment! "A presto" is Italian for "see you again", which sentiment I wholeheartedly support for this fine restaurant.
A table of 6, Chef Nobematsu was kind enough to seat us in the private dining room although I fear this may have been a furtive attempt at noise control. A Presto is an impressive venue, hidden from the madding crowds yet bright and cheery with knowledgeable and energetic staff.
The Headhunter had been gracing A Presto for years, so at his advice we all opted for the Cene A ('A' dinner) with 3 of us substituting a meat course for the fish. Ever accommodating, Chef was really very comfortable with this idea and added a "taster" version of the lamb at your Humble Correspondent's request.
Chef is very proud of his Bagna Cauda, and serves it with vegetables and home-made bread as an amuse to all his customers. Now I know why Michael Garabaldi attempted so valiantly to smuggle it aboard Babylon 5 - although I am not a huge fan of Anchovies, this is a delightfully inelegant way to start a meal that promotes conversation, friendship, and appetite.
The six appetizers, impressively plated, show Chef's skills off well and provide a sophisticated tour of campagne cooking that all builds towards the primo piatti pasta. Offered a choice between a Chicken in Cream Sauce or a slightly spicy Beef Tongue, our table decided to split the difference. Unfortunately, this prompted a lively discussion about which was best - a tie, we decided, and bordering on excellent!
We chose the 2002(?) Gavi "Filagnotti" as our white wine. The sommelier at A Presto is both accommodating and knowlegeable, and you would do well to follow her advice if you need help with the Italian and French wines on this excellent list. Our red, 1998(?) Brunello di Montalcino, was excellent (Note to self: Order this ASAP!).
There is no doubt in my mind that I "won" with the Satsuma-imo fed pork cutlet I had chosen as my main meal. Chef spends considerable time melding the Palma ham and pork fillet together before breading, and then turns it out crisp and golden from a double virgin olive oil bath. A touch of fresh lemon juice, and we're off to Royal Ascot! Oh, Gentle Reader, this is one of those "hold every morsel in the mouth as long as possible" dishes: it is simply a delight! I think I recall that others enjoyed their Sea-bass as well. Chef doubled up with the Lamb, and my bliss was complete. Among the best I've ever eaten, sweet yet flavoursome through to the bone.
Dessert was again a medley of Italian classics, with my favourites the Pumpkin Mousse and the Strawberry Sorbet.
Enjoy A Presto with friends and lovers, although I advise making a reservation well in advance.
Rating: Food: 8/10; Wine: 7/10; Ambiance: 8/10; Service: 8/10; Price ($$): 7/10. Total: 38/50
A Presto [map]: Kita-Aoyama 3-13-1, Minato-Ku. Tel: 03-5774-6216
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