Swing yourself onto a stool at Savoy, and you’ll bop your head to their jazz and awfully delicious, make that dazzling pizza, Neapolitan style.
Savoy Pizza and Swing, located at the end of the old shopping road, of Azabu Juban, and just around the corner from the mega-Tsutaya-Starbucks in Roppongi Hills, is a fabulous option for lunch in the area. While not under 1,000 yen, it is 1,000 yen, nevertheless, a pretty okay deal for this neck of the woods.
Diners are repeatedly drawn to the intimate 13-seater pizzeria with their beautiful wood-fired oven and up-close pizza-making. Watch the entire process as a gorgeous lump of dough comes out of a smooth wooden crate, is floured and stretched over floured marble, and shaped with fast, adroit hands, about three spoonfulls of sauce imported from Italy, fresh basil sprigs, razor-thin garlic shards, a good shake of oregano, and fresh crumbles of mozzarella cheese.
Of course, it depends on your order: margarita or marinara. You can watch both pizzas being created, and perhaps decide from there, as your fellow-diners try to contain their excitement over seeing what is surely their pizza being made. Oh, how the mouth waters.
Today, I went for garlic, rather, the marinara pizza—one huge head of garlic sliced thinly, a great dash of oregano and salt. Beautiful sauce, but no cheese. It is a crazy thing how good this pizza is, even without cheese. Oh—and the last, very gorgeous ingredient is a nice shower of olive oil. It comes dripping out of a jeanie-like bottle. And it is gold. Into Savoy’s 500 degree wood-fired kiln, where it will transform into my most favorite Tokyo pizza.
All the while this happens (and it is only a short time), I am polishing-off my delicate vinaigrette –dressed baby greens-salad, along with Savoy’s standard peach tea. Also a standard? Savoy’s swinging jazz. Today, I mellowed with lots of Stan Getz’ samba.
Named after the famous Harlem jazz club, famed for its integrated clientele, talented Lindy Hop dancers, and the oodles of greats who played at the Savoy Ballroom, it certainly is a pizzeria-name with guts and verve. Here’s a sample of Benny Goodman’s Stompin at the Savoy, sung by Miss Ella and Sachiko-Louis Armstrong. Of course, there is also the famous Margherita of Savoy to think of, Queen Consort of the Kingdom of Italy, later the mother of the Prince of Naples. Maybe Queen Margherita, of whom the marinara, basil, mozzarella pizza was named, also fancied herself some jazz.
Four simple pendant lights, reminiscent of art deco, hang. The real light emits from fire, in the corner of this small café, where the baker pours-in more wood chips from bundles underneath the hulking oven. Especially in winter, Savoy pulls me in. When I worked especially nearby, just up the hill from the neighboring high school, any outing to Savoy was a holiday.
Today, I sat, transfixed, like Lucy in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Mr. Tumnus, the fawn, lures little Lucy in with tea, treats, and his magical, trance-like lute playing, all in cahoots with a roaring fire. A comforting, lullaby of a melody weave together with the delicious food spread before her. She is transfixed, mesmerized, captured. Mr. Tumnus’ Trance-Like Song
You could sit bedside the crackle of Savoy’s iron-ship of an oven for some time, entranced by clouds, wisps of flour, crackling live wood chips dancing in the heat. Shards of garlic, splashes of oil, Savoy’s jazz, and the smell—oh the aroma. This is a transmutative place. Magic happens before your eyes as two–yes, two kinds of pizza are formed and created on the thick marble slab in the center of Savoy’s ten-person bar. Lunch-time pizzas arrive large, yet personal-sized, about 25 cm in diameter. Dinner pizzas may be closer to 28 cm.
Savoy woos customers with such mood, individual pizzas, insalata, and a smattering of small seafood dishes. One of my go-to sides (if I’m really swingin) is their garlicky-broccoli dish (525 yen). There may be no better broccoli. Ever. There are variational dishes of prosciutto, dishes of olives, and today, frittata was an offering.
If you spring for more than the offered & refilled peach tea during lunch, you can choose from the 200 yen section: Coke, ginger ale (the good stuff), Ramune, or espresso (pressed and dripped from a nice Italian machine).
The 300 yen section offers: Appletizer, Natia or Ferrareli mineral waters, or affogato. I chose to end my salad/pizza meal with their not-too-sweet affogato, hot espresso draped over a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream. A drink and dessert in one. That is always my rationale. Don’t choose when you can get both.
Of course, there is also spumante, campari cocktails, prosecco, a nice wine selection from Sicily, Sardinia, and the like. Maybe you opt for a crisp beer with pizza–Savoy offers Yebisu and Nastro Azzurro, over 600 yen for dinner-pricing.
Dinner is always a different story for the Tokyo Cheapo- but Savoy’s 1,000 yen pizza-lunch is reason to cheer.
When all ten diners are tapping along at the bar, and the small three-seater table fills, there are sparks. Magic can happen as you look-on at the artist creating Savoy’s Margherita and marinara pies, with fresh crumbles of mozzarella and whole sprigs of fragrant basil. Pour-on more of that golden oil, Savoy; you are running well.