Yoyogi Park on a sunny day is bliss. Social norms are tossed by the wayside as people bare skin to catch some rays, dance, join a drum circle, drink beer and (attempt to) make music. But what to do as the temp drops and hunger begins to strike, and you want to find an enjoyable spot to while away a post-park evening?
Restaurant Life is a moderately large, street-level eatery in Shibuya-ku with no cellphone reception. This sets the tone beautifully for a relaxed, carefree meal. In fact, the whole interior, with its mismatched wooden furniture and open kitchen, makes for a laidback experience.
Staff members are similarly warm and unpretentious. Our server was patient while we asked questions about the four bottles of organic Italian wine on offer—two reds, two whites. Preferring vino rosso, we chose a 2006 Cabernet Dell Venezie Sartori (¥2,900), from Veneto. (The alternative was a ¥3,400 option from Sicily.)
The bottle soon arrived—uncorked. But keeping with the vibe, we made no protest. After all, we’d spent the day in the sun, and were at this point nearly giddy with expectation thanks to the smells wafting from the kitchen and nearby tables.
Photos Courtesy of Life
Turning to the food menu, we first noticed the four specialty pizzas, all ¥1,500. We tried the “Country-Style”—with a garden of capers, olives, arugula, egg, prosciutto, tomato sauce and mozzarella—and the intriguing Gorgonzola and honey. The latter was a mouthwatering blend of the sweet and savory, but in all honesty we preferred the former, as it was more filling. The chefs hand-make the dough every day, and you can taste the difference. (Note that just eight pizzas in total are served each day, so if you’re planning to order one, call and ask the kitchen to set one aside.)
It seems like on every visit to Life so far, our first instinct is to order the lemon-mint and butter cream pasta (¥1,200)—before we remember that the dish is utterly lacking in flavor. Take our advice and pass it over for a pizza. You’ll thank us.
If you’re not in the mood for a carb-loaded feast, take a turn through the Antipasto, Salad or Contorno (side dish) pages of the menu. On the first you’ll find a gorgeous plate of char-grilled broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers and green beans, all drizzled with pureed basil and served with whole-grain bread (¥1,300). How’s that for green and lean? Other starters include assortments of olives (¥400), ham (¥1,200) and cheese (¥1,500), as well as several salads (¥600-¥1,300). In fact, these smaller orders might be sufficient to pair with the wine, which is so tasty it’s obligatory.
A day in the park, some tasty Italian fare, and organic wine—what a Life!