Living down in the Shonan area of Kanagawa, as I do, means that decisions to head into Tokyo (or Yokohama, for that matter) are not taken lightly. Expeditions to Antenna America or Devilcraft take an hour or two door-to-door respectively, and when you’re short on cash that train fare also means two or three fewer beers when you’re there. Bummer. So whenever a specifically craft beer-focused place opens up nearby, my liver starts phoning a friend in anticipation.
Case in point: Grano Pizzeria, a two-minute gambol from Fujisawa’s south exit, is a craft beer pizzeria (an extremely welcome combination) that has been open for just over a year. The first thing you’ll see upon entering is the bright red tiled pizza oven, which is owner Ken’s pride and joy. He’s an experienced pizza chef, and has worked in restaurants in Italy, Australia and Japan.
The decor is that typical mix of rustic paraphernalia and bright, brand new wood beams that belie a fledgling bar- those who remember Thrash Zone’s original location in its decidedly un-metal plywood paradise will know what I’m talking about. The style suits Grano Pizzeria more, I think- the whole front of the bar can be opened up and the whole atmosphere is light, airy and European. The streaming Italian radio stations playing on the speakers add to it as well (though last time we went it was “Irish Pub Radio”, I think someone’s finger must have slipped).
Perching yourself at the bar, you’ll notice the huge number of glasses- perhaps ten times more than the number of people that can physically fit in the place. Ken is very particular about his choice of beer, and that extends to serving it in the correct glass and lightly admonishing his staff when they get it wrong. There are six or seven taps which rotate constantly at Grano Pizzeria, as well as a Heartland tap for those just up to their ankles in the craft beer ocean, and a dedicated cider tap. The other taps are taken up with a mix of Japanese, European and American fare, and they change on an almost weekly basis. In the few months we’ve visited, there has been Aspall cider, Hitachino Nest and Iwate Kura beers, West Coast IPAs, and Fuller’s London Pride, as well as more esoteric brews such as bourbon barrel stout (at an astonishing 10.5%), and an amazing Italian saison aged in white wine casks.
With all types of beers being imported from parts unknown, you’d imagine Grano Pizzeria gets a bit pricey. You’d be exactly right. Beers seem to be priced in three arbitrary categories- expense, rarity, alcohol strength, alphabetically, who knows- and also come in a glass (300ml), pint (500ml) and mass (ie Oktoberfest glass- a whopping 2000ml). The first time I visited I only drank glasses to save money, assuming they would be around half the price of the pints, as they are in Mokichi Craft Beer. I was wrong. DEAD wrong. Glasses are only ¥200 less than them. From then on, I only ordered pints. Special beers such as the bourbon barrel stout, then, clocked in at ¥1300 a pint; Stone IPA, ¥1200; Aspall cider, ¥850. On the one hand, I can see how a new place might need to have higher prices to survive in a booming market. On the other, though, both of these pints cost me ¥1600 each.
The food is great, I’ll be the first person to say that. Pizzas are delicious, and come in two dozen Rosso and Bianco varieties (with or without tomato sauce), and there’s a great variety of Italian dishes and sides to boot. My favourite is the anchovy and garlic Rosso (¥850), even if it gives me a breath that can knock passing satellites out of orbit. That’s one of the cheaper pizzas, whose prices range up to ¥2000. Other dishes are under ¥1000 and a few will suffice for two people. The average bill will come to ¥6000.
Grano Pizzeria One-Paragraph Review
Grano Pizzeria is a nice, quiet, relaxed pizzeria you can easily while away an afternoon at, talking craft beer with the owner (he speaks excellent English, by the way) and eating delicious handmade pizzas. Just suck up the pricey prices and concentrate on the fact that you’re drinking some truly unique beers. And order pints, not glasses.
It’s probably best to follow the bar on Facebook or Twitter to avoid disappointment, or see what bonkers drink Ken has ordered- at the time of writing, he’s got a Yuzu citrus stout on tap from Iwate Kura. Terry’s chocolate orange, anyone?
Grano Pizzeria Details
Open: Mon – Fri 4pm to 2am Sat / Sun 12pm to 2am