Ah Archetto, where do I begin? I have postponed writing about Archetto over the summer, and then over the winter, and even now I still cannot perfectly capture how I feel about this place. To put it in one word, I would probably say something trite and generic like fantastic, but that alone will not do Archetto justice. After all, this is the place that I could confidently profess my love for.
I first dined Archetto in my first year at university, one evening when I was looking for a place to eat. Ever since then I have occasionally returned to Archetto, each time trying different dishes. A cozy-looking restaurant with an Italian flag hung right outside its door, located right next to the ever-popular supermarket Hirose, sometimes I still wonder why Archetto has managed to escape the notice of many students.
The food is, of course, Italian, but then one would wonder how Italian this place is. Western food is rather popular in Japan, especially Italian, and restaurants boasting an Italian flag and foreign-sounding names can be found in any average-sized city. Chain restaurants and cafes like Italian Tomato or Jolly Pasta attract a reasonably amount of customers.
Over the year the Japanese have even developed their own take to pasta – also known as wafuu pasta (和風パスタ). Most common are the Napolitan (spaghetti with ketchup –gasps!-, sausage, bacon, peppers and mushroom), the Mentaiko (spicy cod roe, often topped with shredded shiso and seaweed), or the weirdly delicious combination of soy sauce and butter. As for pizza, I’ve known many people who cringe at the thought of potato and mayonnaise as the toppings. All in all, Italian food in Japan is really a hit-or-miss experience (although some French friends I know have commented that they had the best carbonara in Japan).
Thankfully, none of that stuff can be found at Archetto. Instead, you’ll find classic Napoli pizzas, such as the simple margherita with a perfect blend of homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. The ingredients, of course, are locally sourced as much as possible, and many of the items on the menu are only seasonal. For both lunch and dinner, Archetto serves an extensive a-la-carte menu, ranging from antipasti, pasta, and pizza to homemade desserts.
The pizzas at Archetto, by the way, are perfect: they come with a thin, chewy crust that is speckled with char on the edge, topped with the freshest ingredients. Our favorite is the diavola pizza (ディアボラ), which is topped with grilled chicken and Napolitan salami. The quattro formagio is also a must for cheese lovers as it combines the rich flavors of four types of cheese, enhanced with the mild sweetness of honey. If you’re the kind of person that would totally have pizza for dessert, go for the apple pizza – sort of an apple pie in the form of pizza accompanied by a generous portion of vanilla ice cream.
The pasta range is no less formidable, with classics like Bolognese, carbonara or alla Sicilliana. For me, the must-try is the watarigani pasta in cream sauce, which is only available seasonally. The crab bits pair well with the creamy sauce, which drenched the al dente spaghetti on the dish.
The list of antipasti runs long on the chalkboard hung on the wall, ranging from cold cuts, caprese salad to foie gras on toast. Yet again another personally opinion, but do try their jamon serrano, ajillo, and home-made pistachio gelato (I’m not kidding).
A small restaurant that could seat maximum 20 diners, Archetto is run by only one chef and one or two helping staffs at a time. Dining here thus takes some time and the food will come at a rather slow pace, but as you devour the food, occasionally sipping wine while chatting away with friends, the evening can pass by in the blink of an eye.
Address: 9-41 Mochigahamacho, Beppu, Oita Prefecture 874-0924, Japan. It’s on the left side of Hirose Supermarket, very hard to miss!!!
Opening time: Lunch: 11:30~15:00; Dinner: 18:00~22:00. Closes on Thursday.