eating ital-yen at pietro's.


if you are wondering why i haven't done a review for a restaurant on guam for awhile, it's because i've decided i need to eat at each establishment several times first--if i'm not going to blog about one specific food item--and especially if i didn't think it totally sucked (which many restaurants of late have--i should really tell you what they are, but eh. maybe they'll improve.). also, i'm really not fond of reviewing restaurants in general. i know my tastes can be suspect.

i did, however, promise antoi from adventures of bahn mi, that i'd take photos at pietro's, the newest branch of a large japanese-italian restaurant chain. in honolulu, it's known as angelo pietro's (reid did a review recently), but i guess various locations around asia have variations on the main name. also, it looks like the menu items aren't quite the same (no natto spaghetti here, natch).

pietro's plastic food
plastic food! it must be japanese.

i don't really think of the food at pietro's as eurasian, but as japanese versions of italian dishes, which i fondly refer to as ital-yen cuisine. i'm rather partial to it meself, and luckily there are a few restaurants on island that specialize in it. although there isn't any natto on the menu, you can get takana (japanese mustard pickles), or tarako (cod fish roe) as a pasta topping, shoyu (soy sauce)-based or garlic oil-based sauces, and almost all pastas are topped with nori (seaweed).

pietro's bruschetta pietro's squid rings

we tried the bruschetta, which was thick planks of french bread, buttered, garlicked, and toasted then topped with chopped tomatoes and something green, which i don't think was basil. might've been, i couldn't tell. some people love this stuff, but i don't think there's any mid-priced restaurant anywhere that can guarantee anything besides watery, cottony, wan tomatoes, so i don't see the point in ordering this, ever (unless it was topped with nori. hmmm. hmmm.) also, i'm not a big fan of fried calamari squid rings, because even though these were fat, crunchy and greaseless on the outside, soft and tender on the inside, and served with a lightly lemony mayonnaise, they don't actually taste like anything. but that's not pietro's fault, that's just the nature of fat squid rings.

pietro's prawn, tomato, asparagus salad
pietro's raw potato salad

i also had the prawn, (peeled) tomato, and asparagus salad which was comprised mainly of iceberg lettuce, but i don't really have a problem with that--sometimes there's a crunch and bitterness about iceberg that can be a nice foil, as it was with the fat grilled prawns, crispy fresh asparagus slivers, and bits of walnuts throughout the salad. the tomatoes fared better here, as the light vinaigrette that dressed the salad improved them, but the chunks of red onion were a bit too pungent. the more interesting salad was the raw potato salad, which was made with impossibly long, thin noodle-like strands of raw potato (made by using something called a potato threader), then soaked in iced water, and marinated in a ginger vinaigrette. this was a great success--light, crunchy, not too starchy, and a nice vehicle for the gingery dressing. yes, you can eat raw potatoes. i'm not entirely sure you'd want to eat a lot of them, though. no, they are not (completely) toxic. see me after class if you want a rundown.

pietro's mushroom pizza

i've had a couple of pizzas from here, and they were quite good--the crust is cracker thin and crispy, there is an abundance of cheese, but not so much that it overwhelms the toppings and slides off the crust, and there are enough topping variations to keep you occupied for awhile (but again, no natto!).

pietro's salmon spaghetti with spinach and basil cream sauce pietro's spinach mushroom sesame spaghetti

i'm told that the salmon spaghetti with spinach and basil cream sauce is one of the most popular items: spaghetti in a basil pesto cream sauce is topped with fresh spinach and cubes of fat, lightly tempura'd salmon. the flavours of this are quite subtle--i can't really say i tasted the basil in the cream sauce, but the salmon was fresh and perfectly cooked, and the raw spinach leaves helped lift the dish overall. personally, i preferred the chicken, mushroom, and spinach spaghetti in a sesame oil sauce. this was also quite subtle, and the sesame seeds and oil gave this dish more of a chinese flavour. the noodles in both dishes were cooked al dente, and not sticky, but both sauces were rather wet, and the noodles didn't really "drink up" much of the brothiness. lots of flicking lashes from wet noodles, so beware, o ye who wear white in italian restaurants.

pietro's seafood doria

i think, however, that my favourite items on the menu are the dorias. a doria is apparently some sort of rice dish au gratin, with a saucy short-grained rice covered in cheese and béchamel. they are creamy and light like a risotto, yet made more substantial by the addition of seafood, vegetables, or meat, then topped with an abundant amount of cheese and white sauce and broiled until brown and bubbly. this one was filled with chunks of salmon, squid rings, and juicy prawns, and the rice was tinged with a wee bit of tomato for taste and colour. excellent.

as pietro's is still brand new, the service can be erratic. at lunchtime at its busiest, it was impeccable; at dinner rush, it was almost appallingly bad, but apparently because they were understaffed for the night. i ended up sitting at the bar (my current favourite spot, actually), and being waited on by the cashier, whose genial nature and attentiveness did much to appease me. everyone who works there seems to be quite jovial, and the owner is just a happy, insane japanese guy. who owes me a coffee-flavoured shochu. i mean it. i want it. where is it?

b-1, acanta mall,
across the street from barney thai,


I bet by the end of the meal you really wanted to stack back those plates :).

DORIA!!! I have been talking about doria to anyone who'll listen and no one, I mean NO ONE has ever known what it was. I pratically lived on this stuff during my winters in Tokyo. I much prefer it to the pasta gratins. Curry doria, eggplant/tomato doria, spicy chicken doria....hmmmmm. I can't find a single place that makes it here although I should probably give Sawtelle Dr another look. I make it at home sometimes but there is something about restaurant doria.

I have to disagree with you about natto. I just can't bring myself to eat it. I've tried. I cannot do it.

I am so jealous of your doria eating!

oslo f--i did! it was tough to stack some of them though, but it was almost necessary at the bar.

astro girl! omg, dorias totally rock the block--how do they get them so creamy?? you are so right, it's not the same at home. when i go back to la, we should go in search of dorias in the south bay, maybe...?

That's crap bruschetta. They should be ashamed.


Interesting selection of dishes at the Pietro's on Guam. Now I'm really curious to see the dishes served at the Pietro locations in Japan.

anthony, but they're japaaneessssssssse....

reid, we've got spareribs on the menu--do you have that in honolulu? i heard they're really good.

I have no idea where Barney Thai is but you bet I will be trying out some of your restaurant suggestions when the hubby and I try to make it to Guam this summer. As you can guess we will be reviewing a few restaurants ourselves. Has Guam ever seen an Italian? Maybe yes and we hope to see if the food is up to par. Of course I could rather have torillas from Paloma Store in Barrigada, if it is still there and some chicken kelaguen.

hi gia! barney thai is a bit of a joke--it's actually called ban thai, in the old leo's/salzburg chalet location. however, it's painted a lurid green and purple like the kiddy dinosaur, barney.

i hope you were joking about the italian remark. i don't mean to take you to task, but i feel this is the perfect opportunity to let others know that even though we are a tiny island, we are not an isolated indigenous population. of course the main population is asian, and the main sphere of influence is the us military, but one of the things that happened was that guamanians enlisted, went off to overseas bases, and came home with wives from all over the world. many local boys came home with wives from the us, but also germany, turkey, and italy. ever since the '70s, the major hotel chains have supplied guam with some very decent kitchen staff from all over europe, and some have chosen to stay on island once their tour is over. also, since guam is such a large duty-free market, the LVMH group maintains european (albeit mainly french) management; there is a growing population of independent contractors from all over the world for military and private projects; and of course, tourists who come for the world-class diving, or at least come on their way to diving sites throughout the pacific and asia.

i don't consider pietro's as an italian restaurant--there's really nothing on the menu that isn't hybridized with asian flavours to cater to the local crowd. the hyatt's al dente is probably the most "authentic", as their chef, mirko agostini, is originally from milano; i can't really say how much, though, as i've not eaten there for years. there are other restaurants that attempt to stay closer to the mark, like the westin's prego and another called sereno's, but i believe both veer into a wider mediterranean spectrum.

i would totally go for palomo's over those anyday anyway :D

I lived on Dorias at Denny's in Japan when I was there. Haven't been able to find it since I came back home to Hawaii. Does anyone know where I can find a recipe?

very much appreciated your explanation of the context of food in guam.

and yeah, that bruschetta, yikes