OK, before I say anything, please trust me that I was not bribed or in receipt of anything to get me to write this post. Really. No, really. Stop laughing!
I recently went out to dinner, perhaps for the third of fourth time, at the Fujiya Gohonjin in Nagano City, on Chuo Dori, just downhill a bit from Zenkoji temple. I am convinced this restaurant has the BEST Italian and Continental fare in Nagano. I would go so far as to say it is the best in all of Japan, but since I haven’t eaten much Italian in, say Tokyo or Kyoto, I can’t yet make so bold a statement.
Over the twleve years I have been in Japan (11 of them in Nagano), I have patiently put up with a lot of what the locals call Italian food. The Fujiya Gohonjin was such a breath of fresh air for me. It is one of the few restaurants around here that does NOT have ketchup as one of their pasta sauce ingredients. Here the sauce is thick — order pasta with tomato sauce and you get a tomato and vegetable sauce so thick you could eat the sauce itself with a fork. And when you have cleaned off your plate, you won’t find a reservoir of pink water at the bottom as you would find eating out at just about any other Italian restaurant around here.
The pasta is not the only great food to find here. Everything my family, friends and I have tried on the menu is fantastic. So much so, it was almost enough to make me feel like I was in Italy again. But just one look at the staff reminded me that I was, in fact, in Japan.
The Fujiya has a number of rooms, all of them very nicely appointed. The Main Dining Wisteria is the most popular place to eat. It is a large room with a view of the garden on one side and the open kitchen on the other. A very nice atmosphere all around and the staff is very polite, professional and friendly.
Kids are welcome here too; even the noisiest ones such as my own are tolerated. This restaurant is a great place to surprise someone on their birthday. The entire wait staff will bring out a cake while cheering and appluading the birthday boy or girl.
For more information, take a look at their website, which is in Japanese and English: http://www.thefujiyagohonjin.com/