A warm glow was emanating from the windows of the little, two-story cafe as we drove by for the third time. The red, green, and white stripes were hanging just above the restaurant sign. "Cuccagna, must be Italian," I said to my husband. It looked cozy, but wasn't Toba famous for seafood? We were tired from traveling and sightseeing all day, and we had been searching for a place to eat dinner for the last twenty minutes. Giving up on the seafood idea, I said, "It looks nice. Let's give it a try." I am so glad we did!
We were greeted by two friendly ladies standing behind the bar who showed us to our table up a unique, iron, spiral staircase. The restaurant was dimly lit, giving it a relaxing, romantic atmosphere. Through the window near our table, you could see only black, but I imagined looking out over the harbor by the light of day.
The menu was in Japanese, but being mostly western cuisine many of the words were written in katakana. You could order à la carte or, as with many Japanese restaurants, as a set meal. We went with Set B, which came with bread, salad, and coffee. Not really knowing anything about the restaurant, we decided to order two of the recommended items: a bacon and pumpkin pasta with cream sauce, and a bacon, mushroom, and chestnut pizza. You cannot go wrong with bacon or pizza.
We were served our salads right away with a basket of homemade bread. The salad had a light, citrus dressing. Both were tasty and helped curb our appetite. Next, the main courses arrived fresh, hot, and delicious. The pasta was cheesy and creamy with sweet pumpkin and savory bacon. The pizza was perfectly balanced with a delicious handmade crust and served with chili-pepper infused olive oil. The two of us shared both dishes, which could have probably fed a family of four. We ate every bite. At the end of the meal we enjoyed a cup of coffee and chatted about the day and how lucky we were to have found such a great restaurant.
It was the perfect ending to our first day in Ise-Toba. Both the food, service, and atmosphere were superb. Cuccagna would be a great place for a family dinner, a large party, or a romantic evening. According to their website, they are open for breakfast and lunch as well. Business hours are from 10:30 to 21:00 daily. Check the website for specific lunch and dinner hours. The restaurant is conveniently located just across from Toba Station and not far from Mikimoto Pearl Island, but it was also easily accessible by car with a parking lot in the back. If planning a trip to Ise-Toba, don't miss a chance to dine at this excellent Italian eatery by the sea.