Agora, Sapporo

Here we are again, doing the hard (but incredibly rewarding) work of sharing the local knowledge about Sapporo (the best city in the world). In this post we focus on the Italian restaurant Agora, in Sapporo. And while there are many good reasons to go to Agora, we are particularly interested in their pizza.

Is Sapporo’s Agora restaurant good enough to be on the list of the best pizza in Sapporo? It just might be (we’ll see).

Agora is located on the first block of Tanukikouji, on the east side, actually facing Sosei Kawa park. To get there, you can take Tanukikouji to the east (to Tanukikouji 1) all the way to the end, and before you cross the street into Sosei Kawa, turn left (north). Agora is a two story building, on that block.

Coming from America, there were certain things I miss about my home country. While pizza is associated with Italians, I will be so bold as to say American’s really know how to do pizza right. As I arrived in Sapporo, finding good pizza was one of my first goals.

The first pizza place in Sapporo that I tried was Dalsegno (which is about five minutes to the north of Agora). The second pizza restaurant in Sapporo I discovered was The Craft. And as I added to my local expertise, the next was this place; If you like pizza, Agora is a great spot. Since my first visit, I have since been back many times.

Agora has a small pizza oven, that looks like it is made of white stone.  It’s not a big place, and that small oven produces one pizza at a time, but they come out very nice, with a beautiful crust.

While I have been to Agora many times, it took us a while to get a table, and some details and good pictures of the pizza for this review. Agora can be a little busy – a reservation is recommended.  After about three or four tries, we had a reservation and we are proud to give your a preview of what they have on offer.

They have a full menu at Agora, but in terms of pizza they have four choices:  There is a mushroom, bacon, potato pizza with a cream sauce, a crab and anchovy pizza (the fish market is just across the park from Agora), a margarita pizza (which every single restaurant in Sapporo tries to offer, must be a “default” pizza for the Japanese), and a “Quatro Fromage” (four cheese) pizza.

What is missing?  For an American, there is basically no “meat” pizza on that list (a little bit of bacon doesn’t count).  In fact, you might start to notice that Agora fits in the Sapporo Fancy Pizza™ category.  It is very good pizza, and while they do serve beer at Agora, this is not a spot you can go for pizza and beers with your friends.

There is no pepperoni.  And certainly no “meat lovers” combination (I wish there was).  After all the searching for great pizza in Sapporo, I have yet to find that kind of pizza place.  When we write our post about the absolute best pizza restaurants in Sapporo, don’t be surprised when I talk about Pizza Hut (because I am going to do that, you’ve been warned).

Agora is is more of a date spot, and in that role, it’s very successful (I’d recommend a counter seat, you can watch them do their work in the kitchen). 

If you’re on a date, one nice thing about Agora is they will let you build your pizza with “half” one choice and a different choice for the other side. You don’t have to agree; you can each have what you want. And it’s fun to share.

In the pictures above, you can see we did half of the mushroom, bacon, potato, and half “four cheese.” I personally liked the tomato-based mushroom bacon pizza better. But I have some notes from my last trip there that the smell of some from the four-cheese side was rich, and amazing.

Every time I have been there, they have had a little bottle of oil with a pepper soaking in it on the table in front of me. To drizzle a little of that spicy oil on the pizza is to take the flavor to another level. I love that part about Agora. With the Quatro Fromage pizza, they bring you a little bit of honey – also a nice touch.

As I mentioned above, Agora is what “scientists” would call “fancy pizza.”  As you can see from the pictures, the pizza is beautiful.  What you can’t see is that it tastes fantastic.  But what is “typical” about Sapporo Fancy Pizza™ is that the crust is very thin.  And with cheese and vegetables, it’s a wet pizza, and it’s not easy to pick up.

You can pick up a slice of Agora pizza, but it’s not easy (maybe a little better than most places in Sapporo).  In the pictures here, I had to fold it over, and it’s still wants to fall apart if you lift it off the plate. If the pizza at Agora is not at the top of our list, the soft-thin crust will be one of the reasons why.

And as you might notice, the slices coming off an Agora pizza are not that big.  If you can imagine a full-sized slice; all the topping would slide off if you tried to pick it up. I personally am not the type that wants to eat pizza with a knife and fork.

As we mentioned, Agora is a proper Italian restaurant, and they have a full menu, including several pasta options.  Once upon a time, they had a “pescatore” pasta that was exceptional (shrimp, calamari, chunks of mussels and fish, amazing).  Sadly, that option is gone.  But there are still several options for pasta.  And they always offer at least one with some seafood.

The night we came by for this review, we ordered a pasta with clams.  It was done in a butter-garlic sauce, that was tasty and beautiful to look at.

While we don’t have any pictures for this review, they have several items on their antipasto (appetizer) menu that are worth trying.  Our favorite is their “assortment” of appetizers, which includes several kinds of tasty bites.  On a typical date experience, I have ordered “two of each,” so you and your companion can each try them all.

For a typical meal, I would say a pizza, some pasta, and a full “assortment” of appetizers is a bit too much.  When they had the pescatore pasta, I would have preferred that over the appetizers.  Without that option, I’d recommend you order a pizza (of course), plus this sampler of appetizers.  Great flavors and a fun experience to try several bites together.

Sapporo is still desperately seeking non-fancy pizza options.  While it’s not necessarily the best pizza in Sapporo, if you’re looking for an alternative to Sapporo Fancy Pizza™, we recommend Pizza Joint Pike.  They do a “New York City” style slice that is tasty and is (in fact) one of the only alternatives to “fancy pizza” in all of Sapporo.

This area of Sapporo is about a 10 minute walk from both Odori and Susukino stations.  In this part of town, we can make several other very good recommendations.  For Indian-inspired soup curry, you should try Dehli (which you will likely have to walk by on your way to Agora). Hamburger Steak North Continent is also close by (and is very much worth a visit).  Salt Moderate is about five minutes from Agora, and while it is more expensive (and isn’t in any way “Italian”) it is a great experience.  For a very good hamburger in Sapporo, the (new? newest?) Jacksonville in the Moyuk building is also nearby.  In closing, (despite the very good beer) I don’t like Sun and Moon Brewery very much, but it is just across the park from Agora.

While Agora is not a real “pizza parlor,” it is a great spot.  We have had a lot of good meals there, good atmosphere, very good food.  And there are other choices for pizza in Sapporo (we didn’t mention Smile Kitchen Pizza Dinner, so we’ll do that now), but for a quiet date night, Agora is highly recommend.

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