“Good food, a glass of wine and good company is the best you can ask for in life.”
Mamma Luisa’s Table
A few steps from one of Shibuya’s main thoroughfares is not exactly where one might expect to find a farmhouse-style restaurant, and yet that’s exactly what Mamma Luisa’s Table is. Opened by chef Pietro Androsoni in 2014, the restaurant was inspired by his childhood growing up on his grandparents’ farm in Florence.
“My grandmother made all the food for all the family. Every weekend there were like 15 to 20 people in my house,” Androsoni says. “So I grew up in this environment, with the ingredients from the farm, the animals, the poultry. And I think this is why I am fascinated by this work.”
Androsoni started his career at a Michelin-starred restaurant in his native city, before he did a stint at an Italian restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio. Disillusioned by what he says was not the America of his dreams and yet still harbouring a travel bug, when he got a call from his former boss asking him to help open a new location in Tokyo, he decided to take a chance.
“I said, I’ll come to Japan, but I don’t want to stay longer than six months. And I came here and fell in love with the city,” he says. “Food-wise, I think it’s the best city in the world. You can experience all the cuisines, the styles—there is so much culture about food in this city.”
Mamma Luisa’s Table is named after Androsoni’s own mother, and the restaurant has a relaxed, home-style feeling. Black and white photos of the chef’s family hang on the walls, and at the centre of the dining room is a large, eight-seat table. Warm lighting, distressed wood furniture, mismatched rugs and an open kitchen complete the inviting atmosphere.
“The thing I love the most about having my own restaurant is the relationships I can cultivate with customers,” Androsoni says. “I feel I am at home, and the guests are also a part of my home.”
Androsoni’s food is creative yet comforting, incorporating ingredients from Japan and around the Mediterranean. The menu changes slightly from day to day depending on the vegetables he finds at the markets.
“I use really seasonal ingredients, because that’s one thing we’re losing these days,” he says. “People have gotten used to using asparagus 365 days a year. But for me, we have seasons and I want to respect them. Also because I grew up in a farmhouse, and I think this background is something I bring with me. I used to love to go into the backyard and get the zucchini, and then go inside, wash it and cook the pasta. In 30 minutes you go from the ground to the plate.”
Cooking according to the seasons also results in more variety, which keeps Androsoni stimulated. Even first-time visitors to Mamma Luisa’s Table will quickly recognise his passion for his work.
“Food is so versatile. Once you understand the ingredients, you can create anything. Food for me is life,” he says. “Food is also my way of communicating. If I’m in a good mood, the food is happy food. I think food can talk.”
So what would Androsoni like for his food to tell his customers? Simply to enjoy life, he says.
“I think good food, a glass of wine and good company is the best you can ask for in life. When you have this, you can’t ask for more.”
TIPS & RESERVATION INFO
Mamma Luisa's Table is a small restaurant, so reservations are advised, especially for groups. It is located exactly halfway between Shibuya and Ebisu stations, slightly removed from the hubbub. Just up the street is the small but peaceful Hikawa Shrine, which was one of Tokyo's original sumo sites. Its surrounding forest offers a peaceful respite from the city.
ACCESS DETAILS2-20-16 Higashi, Shibuya-ku