A story of emigration and passion.
Before being a story of emigration, this is a love story.
Usually, in the afternoon, Yuki would have coffee in a bar-café at Corso Vittorio Emanuele. In addition to the breathtaking view from the Corso, the boys and girls of the staff were hospitable and friendly. Yuki is Japanese and she was studying Italian in Napoli.
She is sociable and enjoyed conversing with the locals to practice Italian. Once, between a coffee and a chat, she stayed at the café until closing time. Alfredo, the bartender, and the guys from the staff decided to go for a drink together and invited her to join them.
Yuki spent a funny evening with the staff and Alfredo who is a jovial and very an engaging person.
She was invited by her new Neapolitan friends for the next evening too.
The following afternoon Yuki went to the bar café but this time she was not alone. To everyone’s surprise, especially Alfredo’s, Yuki was in company.
It was the first time that such a thing had happened to Alfredo and he did not know how to react by remaining almost dazed for a moment. He had a heartbeat and his legs were doing, as we used to say in Napoli, “giacomo giacomo” …
Yuki was accompanied by Masami.
A few years earlier Masami had purchased a travel package to visit Italy. The tour did not include stops in Napoli. Although passing through the city the girl managed to perceive the Neapolitan vibe and she was captured by it. She promised herself to return and, after saving some money, she enrolled in a one year Italian language course in Napoli.
Alfredo had just met the woman of his life. He and Masami began dating until they got married.
The wedding was celebrated in Napoli and later a ceremony was also held in Japan. From this love 3 beautiful daughters were born.
They lived in Napoli and went regularly to Japan to visit for the holidays. Since the first visit, Alfredo was fascinated by Japan.
There is no crime that exists in Western countries, there is a strong civic sense and each of their systems is meticulously organized. There is no shortage of work in Japan and everything works well.
After 6 years Alfredo decided to move to The Land of the Rising Sun.
ADM “I thought I’d give it a try so as not to have regrets later.”
It has been an important decision and a bold challenge considering that we are talking about moving a family, of 5 people, from Napoli to the region of Kantō, on the island of Honshū, more precisely to Chiba.
Chiba is located east of the center of Tokyo and it is about 25 miles from the center of the Japanese capital.
The Chiba area overflows with natural beauty both inland and on the coast. It is home to two Disney parks and to the longest suspended monorail in the world. Along the coast, Kujukuri Beach features more than 60 kilometers of sandy coastline famous for water sports. Beside all, Chiba is known for its large supply of locally produced vegetables and fish and is also among the best areas for soy and rice production.
In this rich and productive context, Alfredo’s second life began. He started by investing on himself immediately by enrolling to a Japanese school.
ADM: ”I started from scratch. At 36, I took homework. I was back as a schoolboy. After 6 months of school I started working and it was good for practicing Japanese. I went morning at school and afternoon at work. This helped me a lot. “
Also in Tokyo he continued to work in the catering sector as a manager for the BiCe chain restaurants (Michelin Star) in Tokyo. Although late in the evening he got home always stressed and exhausted.
ADM: “I was working in Tokyo and all was quite fine. However I worked 15 hours a day then returned home by train and it took more than an hour. If I missed the train on the way back it was a tragedy. I was very stressed. Then here they only take Summer holidays 4 days a year and this stressed me even more. “
Alfredo worked too much and in logistically unfavorable conditions. He was tired, and he couldn’t ask himself for more because it would have been impossible. In fact, the life he led, like that of most of the emigrants at the beginning of their staying abroad, was almost inhumane. It was 16 years of hard work, sacrifices and continuous questions to himself until he realized that this lifestyle was harmful and counterproductive. Therefore at a certain point he decided to accept a proposal in Capri, Italy, where he made good money and there were no problems of long distances from the workplace. In Capri he only stayed one year. Living away from his wife and daughters was even more unbearable and more stressful than before. He went back to join his family in Chiba and reorganized his life in a way more suited to his own culture. Then he gave birth to a project completely based on Italian and typical Neapolitan cuisine bringing as he says, “A piece of Napoli in Japan”.
ADM: “Living the life of a Japanese when you are not fro Japan is not easy, for me it was dramatic. Living here was hard at first. I do not speak English and I went to Japanese school for 6 months. With a small payment from the old work in Napoli, I invested in myself in order to study and to prepare to work here. Luckily I’m half Sardinian. My mom was Sardinian, and I inherited tenacity and my hardhead from her. I fought and in the end I made it. “
“Da Alfredo” pizza restaurant is located in Narashino. It is welcoming and characteristic. Entering it gives the impression of entering the home of a friend with whom you are comfortable, a friend with whom you can enjoy a glass of wine and a chat over a special dish. Alfredo personally looks after each client. At lunch time Kaori is there to help him, and she speaks excellent Italian. At dinner he does everything alone. Do you think about it? A restaurant where the owner is the chef, the assistant chef, the pizza chef, the waiter, the bartender, the cashier, the busboy … That’s not a problem because he is very well organized. Alfredo is a very caring chef. He puts love into preparing food as in making people smile. Haven’t I told you about the Italian classes yet?
In order to let you get the highest experience at Alfredo’s he lets you fully merge in our culture by also taking Italian classes and small events.He let you experience the real Mediterranean hospitality. He introduces clients to each other, creates groups and creates harmony in a healthy and serene environment as in a perennial party atmosphere!
That of him is not Nouvelle Cousine. He offers only typical dishes prepared with simple and fresh ingredients, of the highest quality. Also, this time as for the last edition, he doesn’t cook “fettuccine Alfredo” or “Cesar salad” but a menu that includes: stuffed peppers, eggplant parmigiana, potato gateau, Neapolitan lasagna, spaghetti in every sauce. He creates fantastic “tastings of chef”, different combinations of mixed cheese and antipasti, freshly caught fried fish fish, pizza and lasagna, cured meats, handmade bread and pizza and handmade pasta.
The scent of coffee (made with mocha, like at home) and of freshly baked bread are just an intro to Alfredo’s restaurant. Beside being an entrepreneur and a Chef, Alfredo is an authentic social connector and he seduces you with his sympathy. Indeed between a comic joke and the other he gave answers to some curiosities introducing us to the fascinating Land of the Rising Sun.
NAP – Can you briefly describe your typical day? –
ADM – I open at 11:30 am. If I don’t have to prepare fresh bread or pasta, I am at the restaurant by 11am, otherwise at 8 am I am already at work. At dinner time I am alone at the restaurant. Sometimes it happens that regular customers come into the kitchen to help. We have lot of fun. I have one day off a week and I manage well. –
NAP – How was the impact you had when you moved to Japan? –
ADM – Despite having avery rigid culture, if you can climb over the wall, the Japanese are your dearest friends. They are generous and have a big heart. They are very nice especially to the Italians. –
NAP – Is it a myth or is it reality that policemen in Japan do not have guns? –
ADM – In fact the policemen have small sort of pistols but they don’t use them. They are kind, they are not aggressive, they never get their hands on you. –
NAP – In Chiba there is the longest monorail in the world and the rest of the transports have the reputation of being precise and technologically advanced. How do you get around the city? –
ADM – I move around by Vespa. I reach the restaurant in 5 minutes. In Japan, before buying a car, you must own a parking space, a garage. If you do not prove that you own a spot for your car, you cannot buy it, the shopkeeper won’t sell it to you. The same goes for bicycles. If you don’t have a parking space and you put your bike on the street, you risk that the pensioners who go around the streets and check, have it taken away for you. –
NAP – How is Chiba different from Napoli? –
ADM – Here you can live without thoughts. You can go out at any time without being bothered. The people and policemen are polite, there is plenty of work and everything works well. Unfortunatelly it lacks of sociality. I miss the sociality that exists in Napoli. There are no squares in Japan. You don’t have the chance to meet new people unless they are friends of friends. When people here get off from work, they usually shut themselves up at home or in clubs to drink. I am used to Napoli, I like to be outside and experience the outdoors with friends, in the square, on the street, for a walk… This is the reason why I opened Da Alfredo. At my restaurant you can feel comfortable, you can be yourself feeling like being at home. I have clients who come even 3-4 times a week. I introduce them to make them friends. It is a meeting place, a social place for everyone. Usually in Japanese restaurants they greet you, they put the menu in your hands (now you even pass the phone on the Qr code) then they don’t care about you and don’t talk to you. It is so sad. Instead, in my restaurant there is a hospitable and engaging atmosphere. –
NAP – What is the Japanese response to authentic Italian and Neapolitan cuisine? –
ADM – Years ago I worked with an Italian chef who returned to Italy after the earthquake in Japan. From that moment the restaurant began to hire Japanese chefs. I began to have issues and to clash with these chefs who did not know how to prepare Italian dishes. They made overcooked pasta and their knowledge of Italian cuisine was less than zero. They served very overcooked and slimy spaghetti, “Cardarelli style” (hospital style) with Ketchup sauce. There is a dish that they call “Napolitano” that is an offense to Neapolitan cuisine and to Italian cuisine in general. Overcooked spaghetti, frankfurters, onions and ketchup. A fashion brought by the Americans. Oh yes, because after the Second World War when the Americans landed with ships in Yokoama they did not find tomatoes here. A ship’s cook who claimed to be Neapolitan cuisine connoisseur used ketchup to season pasta. And now for them it is a Neapolitan dish. Finally I chose to go on my own instead of seeing similar crap being passed off as Neapolitan and Italian dishes. Everyone makes a cuisine that is too elaborate moving away from naturalness. What is missing here in Japan is home cooking. The simpler Italian cuisine, the tastier it is. I do simple things, more characteristic, no nouvelle cousine! –
NAP – Would you go back to Napoli? –
ADM – Not to live. If one day I would return to Italy I would prefer to go to Sardinia.-
NAP – If you had stayed in Napoli do you think you would have been able to build all this? –
ADM – No. In Napoli they don’t let you do it. Here there is no camorra and we work peacefully. The streets are clean, the people follow the rules and all are respectful and polite. In terms of work, they are professional and very precise. Sometimes too much. – (smiles ed).