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Italian cafe labor of love for wines specialist owner

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2005-05-27

He began as an assistant in a French restaurant, then studied and worked his way to sommelier, first at the Harborview Hotel, then for two years at Palm Hills Golf Course.

The road to owning an Italian restaurant wasn’t conventional, but has proven successful to Hiromitsu Komesu, whose Fishpool Café on Kokusai-dori has just celebrated its fourth anniversary. “I wanted to offer high grade service in a café style,” says Komesu of his bright, yet intimate second floor restaurant in the midst of Naha’s tourist district.

Fishpool’s casual décor is original, designed by Komesu. So are most of the recipes, which lean toward northern Italian cuisine, but have a certain fusion with the delicacies of other Italian regions. While striving for balance, Komesu says “I favor the northern flavors because of the pastas,” noting that his spaghetti with tomato sauce pasta remains his best seller.

The difficulty with dining at Fishpool is first struggling through the dozens of entrée choices, then knowing when to quit. From the fresh baked breads served with olive oil to the lamb, chicken, beef and seafood entrees, to the seven desserts to top the meal off, there simply is no “average” selection. At Fishpool, there are many ways to define delicious. The ten staff members, including a chef and three cooks, have it all together. The chef originally studied and trained in French cuisine, then made the transition to Italian.

Your taste buds are salivating even before you get to the specialties. For starters, choose from 14 coffees, four Chinese teas and 16 international teas including Japanese green tea, 11 tropical soft drinks, 60 varieties of French, Italian and American wines, plus seven beers from Japan, Italy, Mexico and the U.S. There are also non-alcoholic beers available.

For the neophyte Italian diner, or for those looking for variety as menus change daily, Fishpool offers a pasta dinner set for \1,500 featuring appetizers, soup, pasta, bread, salad and coffee or tea. The meat or fish dinner set runs only \1,800 and has similar fare. Ala carte’ pasta and pizza courses range from \780-1,350. There are many to choose from, but the crispy bacon and black pepper spaghetti alla carbonara, a Fishpool original, and Minced Beef Meat Sauce spaghetti, another Fishpool specialty, are almost a required choice.

Long-legged lobster, scallops and a black red snapper mixed grill is a seafood lover’s treat at \1,450. A personal favorite is Australian lamb baked in netting with a dash of aromatic herbs, or a marvelous shoulder of lamb at \1,480. You can’t go wrong with the grilled game hen, \1,580, or the chicken thigh garlic confit marinated with awamori, \980. Another excellent dinner choice is the aqua patsua ala anchovy, featuring fish fresh from the market and merged with homemade dried tomatoes, \1,650.

We mentioned dessert before, but only a hint. Fishpool has two tiramisu that are to “die for” in restaurant terms. You’ll also find five different cheese and double chocolate chocolate cakes, plus fruit platters. There’s also Italian gelato in vanilla, espresso and caramel vanilla flavors.

Fishpool opens daily at 11:30am for lunch, and offers both ala carte’ and set menus. Sets are \750 for pasta and \980 for meat or fish, and include soup, pasta, bread or rice, salad, dessert and coffee. Lunch is served to 5pm.

A sandwiches menu is available 4-6:00pm, when the dinner service begins. The restaurant is open until 11pm.

Fishpool Café offers a full English menu, and waiters and waitresses speak/understand some English. We’ve found that pointing at selected menu items works well. The café is located on Kokusai-dori, next to Sam’s Anchor Inn. Parking can be a challenge, although there are two parking lots across from Fishpool, and two others around the corner.

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