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Published On: Wed, Jun 25th, 2014

Michaels on Naples: Italian Food with a California Twist

michaels-on-naplesZagat rated, this Italian restaurant with a California twist in the bustling Naples area of Long Beach was the best of its kind in the region in 2013, and that might not be far from the truth. Quietly elegant with Frank Sinatra singing in the background gives this place an old fashioned feel, but that is certainly not the case with the food. The room is quite dark and it’s hard to read the menu if you are over 21, but luckily the waiters are quick to hand out the¬†flashlights. There is also an upstairs rooftop patio with live music most days of the week.

Chef in charge is David Coleman who also runs the two other Italian style places very close by in what is becoming a mini-empire by the Long Beach restaurateur Michael Dene, who treats every guest as a long lost friend.

Sometimes it’s hard to get a feel of the food in just one visit, so I picked the brain¬†of the smartly dressed server who was only too keen to give me a detailed rundown.¬†So I decided to start with the Barbabiotole E Caprino ($16)-otherwise known as beets w/Goat cheese mousse, faro, hazelnut brittle and crispy prosciutto. As with all the dishes¬†I tried, presentation is outstanding, and this is a dish dominated by the hazelnut, a¬†complete contrast to the beet.

Next up was the Rampe con Pancetta E Uova-sauteed ramps, pancetta poached¬†duck eggs and sage breadcrumbs. I don‚Äôt know a lot about ramps, but they are¬†a form of onion and have a very limited season. It is a wild onion with a strong¬†garlic like odor, and is fast becoming a popular menu item on high end restaurant menu’s. Like the first dish, this was very light and a perfect introduction to the main course of Colorado Lamb Chops.

What made this course of four decent size medium/rare chops was the English pea/mint puree and the nettle gnocchi and the wafer thin heirloom carrots. He also does fish pretty good, including the always popular Branzino ($30), which he serves up with artichokes and Taggiasche Olives.

The chef likes his Gnocchi, and does a potato version ($20) with braised oxtail and Teleggio as a stand alone item on special occasions, and a Ravioli stuffed with poached duck egg, uni and salsify.

Lasagna lovers are encouraged to go for the Lasagna Verde Alla Bolognese ($19), a signature item of spinach pasta layered with meat sauce, mozzarella, parmesan and tomato guanciale sauce.

Desserts are a standout at this restaurant and the one you have to try is the Almond Cake ($10) with rosemary cream, which is frankly too good to have just one. I have tried Coleman’s desserts at one of his other restaurants, and can attest as to how good they are.

The wine list as you would expect is fairly extensive and the servers are all knowledgeable, so maybe we could get unto that more deeply at another time. Specialty cocktails are priced at $12 and please check out the web site for more details about the happy hour.

Michaels on Naples Ristorante
5620 East 2nd St
Long Beach, CA 90804
(562) 439-7080

Valet Parking $4 but plenty of street parking
Corkage Fee- $20
Dinner only-open 5pm each day-closed Monday.

About the Author

- Michael Hepworth is a food, spirits and travel writer who contributes to magazines, newspapers and magazines in Los Angeles, Dubai, London and Mumbai.

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Michaels on Naples: Italian Food with a California Twist