At first glance, Trattoria Bosso resembles a dimly-lit nook for the affluent: rows of wine glasses shimmer with platinum light from chandeliers, waitresses balance large trays of pasta and bread on three fingertips, and the menu, displayed on a stand outside, has the simple and understated appearance of a restaurant assured of its fine quality.
While this first look may make you want to clutch your wallet and run screaming to the opposite direction, Trattoria Bosso is actually a haven for cheapos looking for a luxurious lunch for under 1 000 yen. A bargain, considering that Trattoria Bosso sources all of its vegetables locally from Chiba and prides itself on being 100% organic.
Like any other regular Italian restaurants, Trattoria Bosso offers a wide selection of choices, some more expensive than others. Like any good bargain-hunter, however, you can decide on which dishes to buy and how to split them with your friends. Unless you need a bit of alcohol with every meal, you can ignore the wine prices for now (don’t stare too long at those numbers – your eyes may burst from the shock).
No Italian meal is complete without a sample of the ingredients beforehand; sauteed vegetables and finely sliced ham, eaten in small amounts to appreciate the work that goes into the main meal. If a restaurant promotes itself by boasting of the special quality of its vegetables, then you know your food is being prepared with attention to the most microscopic detail, from the extra pinch of salt to the angle of the knife that cuts your carrots. A dish of antipasto costs either 380 or 500 yen – a reasonable portion and price for large gatherings.
The restaurant’s osusume, or recommendations, include a plate of vegetables – zucchini, beets, romain, and radish overlap like sheets of origami, and next to them, a milky sardine sauce mixed with miso and mayonnaise sits in a dainty pot. The vegetables themselves are simply cooked, broiled with salt and pepper. Dipped in creamy sauce, the fibers you usually swallow out of an ingrained sense of nutrition turn piquant on your tongue; the paper-thin leafiness of romain, the satisfying crunch of radish.
The sardine sauce brings out the taste of bread as well as vegetables. A piece of focaccia or garlic bread costs around 200 yen. If just eating a plate of vegetables doesn’t sound appetizing, then you can order a plate of tempura Chiban vegetables and fish. They’re not drenched with grease, and the golden crust melts on your tongue.
Lunch Specials: 1 000 yen Sets
Organic and cheap – for a thousand yen, you can get a tomato sauce pasta set or a margarita pizza set. Included with both sets are salad, seasonal soup, bread, drink, and dessert. Too much food? No problem: bring a friend or two along, and you can split the lunch and cost.
If you’re used to eating pasta sauce out of a can, then your taste buds are in for a small treat with Trattoria Bosso’s tomato sauce pasta. Sprinkled with dollops of mozzarella, the pasta actually glistens with scarlet sauce and wedges of tomato. The first bite will make you rethink your definition of “tomato”; the sauce is sweet and tangy, the remaining strains of tomato still juicy.
For dessert, or dolce, the restaurant offers several options, including orange tiramisu, peanut creme brulee, chocolate gateau, fruity panna cotta and three flavors of gelato. Last time I went to Trattoria Bosso, the restaurant also offered a melon tart: a slice of tart buried in white cream and topped off with melon slices. Unfortunately, it was served only for a few days; the restaurant changes the “special” dolce every few weeks, incorporating a seasonal fruit. I recommend the panna cotta: the white cream gelatin quivers on the spoon and slips into your mouth like nectar, and the sweet flavor can wash away any traces of that stinky garlic you had earlier.
Lunch is served from 11am to 3pm, and you can order until 2:30pm. Dinner is served from 6pm tp 11pm, with 10:30pm being the last order call. It’s not easy to find a decent bowl of pasta that costs less than 1 000 yen, let alone an all-organic one that comes with appetizers and dessert. Don’t miss out on this restaurant: pretend to be an Italian aristocrat at a high-end place, drawing envious looks from outside shoppers, all the while enjoying a 1 000 yen five-course meal.