By Tony Mariani
The street known as Hanazono-machi that runs between Matsuyama Castle park and Takashimaya Department Store is lined with restaurants and cafés, and it can be hard to choose one from the many. However, it makes deciding a lot easier if one of the eateries is emitting a particularly tempting aroma. As I was strolling down Hanazono, an unmistakably Italian sort of smell grabbed my hungry attention, which led me to the door of Vento di Mare Trattoria.
I peered through the glass frontage and saw that interior was pleasant and stylish, with an attractive display of fresh vegetables on the counter. The "Pasta Piatto" set lunch on the chalkboard in front looked very reasonably priced at 780 yen, so I went in and was seated at the counter.
The set lunch starts with tomato and cabbage soup and a rather tokenistic green salad, which were served promptly. The soup was rich and aromatic, with a meaty hint imparted by some chunks of sausage. For the main pasta dish, you can order a large size at no extra cost, and since I was half starving after walking around Matsuyama all morning, I gladly took that option. The pasta took a while to arrive, and while I waited, I flicked through a few of the magazines and photo books from the rack behind me, in between watching the Master cook the pasta. When the waitress brought it out, I was more than ready. It was very good. The pasta itself was perfectly al dente, and the sauce was excellent, with tomato, garlic and a generous quantity of spicy pork. Despite being billed as 'large' however, I could have eaten a good deal more of it.
Besides the counter seating, there are intimate booths for groups of two and four guests, as well as tables for larger groups. Mercifully, smoking is not permitted in the restaurant, so you can enjoy your food unmolested by smoke. Vento di Mare is open for lunch and dinner, and it's very conveniently located for sightseeing and shopping in the centre of town.
Name in Japanese
ヴェント ディ マーレ — Vento di Mare
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I was born in Bristol, England, and I came to Japan in 1991 … which means I've lived half my life in this island nation on the other side of the world. The theme of my career in Japan has been communication. I started as an English teacher, and moved into translation as I learned Japanese. I worked at a well-known electronics manufacturer, facilitating their multinational communications before I became a freelance translator. As such, I translated a lot of tourism-related information. It was obvious to me that most of this isn't sufficient to convey the excitement and wonder of Japan. In 2011, I established Knowledge Travel Partners, an inbound tourism consultancy. After living in several regions of Japan, I settled in Ehime where my wife is from. It's on the southern island of Shikoku facing the beautiful Seto Inland Sea, Japan's Mediterranean. The pace of life here is slow and peaceful, but we do like to throw a raucous festival now and again.