Mario Espresso Fukuromachi

Casual Italian restaurant in a blue boat house

By JJ Walsh    - 3 min read

This three-floor restaurant with blue and white decor reminds of an old, weather-beaten boat house. The menu was revamped in 2013 to attract more customers on a budget, the portions have gotten smaller, but the friendly service, casual atmosphere and quality of good Italian fare has remained unchanged. It is an especially good choice for group dining as they have a great deal of seating space, offer drink deals and will decorate a fantastic specialty cake and deliver it to your table in style if you're celebrating.

Ordering from the menu, most dishes for lunch or dinner are between 800~1,000 yen and special orders (no meat, cheese, garlic) are very easy to do. The lunch sets are especially good value: salad, pizza or pasta, dessert and drink for around ¥1,000.

Very lively at lunch and on the weekends all day, the staff are used to dealing with large groups and usually have no difficulty dealing with orders in English. The refilling of beer pitchers, delivering bottles of wine, cocktails and beers is also fast & easily done. Subsequent food orders are also done quickly and with a smile. Espresso has a young, lively vibe that runs almost like a Japanese Izakaya pub more than a restaurant. Although it is too noisy most nights for any kind of quiet chat, romantic or formal occasion, but great for family meals (the kids aren't the only ones talking loud) and casual dinner with friends.

The food is standard Italian pizza, pasta, salads, soups, grilled meats and fish as well as great desserts. Espresso has a good range of wines by the bottle, draught beer, cocktails and non-alcoholic choices too.

It's advisable to book ahead if you have a large group, but smaller groups can usually have a drink on the 1st floor or at the bar while waiting for a table. Last orders are at 10pm but they don't have a problem serving you drinks and desserts 'till close to midnight. They have a great bilingual menu (English and Japanese) and there are some staff who speak a bit of English too.

Cafe time is also a good option here as the whole Mario chain is quite famous for their desserts. Mostly of the spongecake, cream variety but they do also offer wonderful Tiramisu, Gateau chocolat, fruit and custard tarts as well as other seasonal offerings.

If you are celebrating a special occasion, be sure to mention it at the cashier or to your wait staff and they can whip you up a personalized greeting for the dessert top and deliver it to your table. It's quite fun to surprise a friend on their birthday there as they shut off the floor lights and deliver the cake with a candle to the special guest, then everyone waits till the candle is blown out to clap and get back to their own meal.

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JJ Walsh

JJ Walsh @joy.walsh

I've been living in Hiroshima since the mid 90's & still discovering new things to enjoy. I'm a big fan of both the old "wabi sabi" as well as modern and new designs, Japan offers both of these type of places to explore and enjoy. Even after many years here, I am still discovering surprising, fantastic and wacky things about this strange and wonderful land. I hope you enjoy your adventures around Japan- feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about traveling with kids, vegetarian dining or anything specific to Hiroshima.

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