At the south exit of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, a newly-opened building complex called “NEWoMAN” is set to play host to a huge array of fashionable boutiques and fancy eateries. Among their number, the Neapolitan-style American pizza chain 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria. The store is the very first to open in Japan and features quick-baked pizzas which you can customise to your liking at the counter when you order, choosing from a wide array of different toppings. It’s pretty much the same model as Subway, with staff putting together the pizza before your eyes and then shoving it quickly into one of the wood-burning ovens. By the time you’re done paying at the register, your pizza is basically ready.
RocketNews24’s Mr Sato, who has a great fondness for pizza, volunteered to head down to the brand new store and check out what it has to offer.
When he arrived, he wasn’t at all surprised to find a queue of other excited pizza-gobblers outside. Luckily, being an experienced liner-upper, he wasn’t bothered and mentally prepared himself for a wait of around an hour or more. As luck would have it, though, he was inside the fragrant-smelling store in only 30 minutes.
The decor inside is suitably swanky, with an open-plan kitchen setup. You can just see the ovens on the left in the above photo.
First, you’ll start your order at the pizza base section and work your way through the sauce section, the protein toppings counter, then the vegetable toppings counter, finishing up at the cash register.
The pizza dough bases are made fresh from scratch right before your eyes. Then, your choice of sauce and cheese is added to your liking. You can order a specialty pie from the menu, or completely construct your own to your specific tastes. There’s even "renkon" (lotus root), an Asian staple veggie, as well as the usual suspects like black olives, pineapple, jalapenos and onions.
The protein section includes several types of salami, plus shrimp and sardines. There’s also a salad bar so you can customise your own side salad.
Sato opted for a Verde pizza base, with mozzarella and basil paste, and for his toppings, he went with anchovies, mushrooms, bacon, salami, salsiccia, soppressetta, and pepperoni. The staff recommend sticking to around three toppings to avoid flavour clash, but Sato is a man who knows what he wants, and what he wants is lots and lots of salty meat on his pizza.
After assembly, the pizza is blasted in one of the wood-burning ovens. In around a minute, it’s baked to crispy, gooey perfection. Since the store was quite crowded, however, there was naturally a bit of a baking backlog, so he received a personal pizza number and waited around 10 minutes for his pizza to be cooked.
Sato was delighted with the finished product. The base was crisp, the cheese was melty, and the taste was top-notch.
The thin-crust pizza showed no hint of over or under-cooking, and the toppings were still juicy with no sign of burning. Pizza perfection! However, even though the pizza was a decent size and yielded a respectable six slices, he wasn’t quite full by the end of his meal. Luckily, 800 Degrees also has a bountiful side menu. He quickly ordered the “truffle cheese bread” to try to pad out his gaping stomach. The side dish was crusty, cheesy, and truffle-y, and hit the final empty spot in Sato’s stomach.
Overall, Sato truly enjoyed his visit to 800 Degrees. A great believer in having things his own way (even taking it to ridiculous lengths sometimes), Sato was well satisfied with the high customisability of 800 Degrees’ menu. He heartily recommends a visit next time you find yourself at Shinjuku Station and in need of something satisfying and cheesy.
Restaurant information: 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria Location: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Sendagaya 5-24-55 NEWoMAN Shinjuku Ekisoto 2F Opening Hours: 11:00 to 23:00
店名 800 ディグリーズナポリタンピッツェリア 住所 東京都渋谷区千駄ヶ谷5-24-55 NEWoMan SHINJUKU エキソト2F 営業時間 11:00～23:00
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