MICHAEL’S ON NAPLES
FINE ITALIAN DINING IN A LUXURIOUS SETTING
I must admit I was thrown for a loop when I first heard about Michael’s On Naples, a lovely Italian eatery located on Naples Island. Naples Island? I thought that just must be a name of a cute neighborhood in Long Beach, but to my surprise, the dinner-only restaurant actually sits on an island. Go ahead…Google it.
Open since 2007 by charismatic entrepreneur Michael Dene (who also owns Michael’s Pizzeria next door), Michael’s on Naples is a great go-to destination for fine dining, outstanding wines, and happy hour in a killer setting. It is tops in Long Beach and definitely worth the trek from Los Angeles, especially on a weekend.
"My lifelong passion has been to open a restaurant that reflects my high standards of taste,” owner Michael Dene says, “from the overall design and professionalism of the staff to, most importantly, the menu and wine list. Now my wish is to share my dream. I hope you will join me in a celebration of dining at its finest."
Recently, Michael’s On Naples has been collecting awards for its food and wine. Zagat named it Best Italian Restaurant in Los Angeles, as well as the #2 Overall Restaurant in Los Angeles, and Gayot.com listed it among its Top 10 Wine Lists in Los Angeles, making it the only Long Beach restaurant to be included.
Michael’s On Naples strives to source local ingredients and supports local and organic farmers whenever possible, in addition to making their own pastas, mozzarella, and handcrafted sausage in-house, they also grow their own herbs and select seasonal vegetables on their rooftop garden.
During our recent weekend visit, we sat on the rooftop deck, which is the best way to spend time on a lovely Southern California day. FYI, Happy Hour occurs daily from 5-7pm and offers half price wine.
While it is all about the wine here, I just had to start with a Vesper Martini, aptly made with Belvedere Vodka, Tanqueray Ten Gin, and Lillet Blanc, especially while sitting on the rooftop deck as the setting was just too perfect. Kudos to the bar for making stiff, top notch drinks; besides the martini, their Sazerac, made with Bulleit Rye, simple syrup, Pernod Ricard Absinthe, orange bitters, served chilled and neat, and Sidecar, a mix of Remy Martin VSOP Cognac, Cointreau lemon juice, simple syrup, sugar rim, served chilled and up are no joke. A great deal at $12 a drink for these tough mothers. I tend to judge a bar and its bartender by how they can handles these cocktails, along with an Old Fashioned and Manhattan, are these were up to snuff. Good times are aplenty on this charming deck.
Opting to share a bevy of small plates, we started with an order of Arancini—crispy risotto stuffed with Bolognese sauce. Simply fantastic. Small bites, good drink and a lovely setting is all you can ask for on a night out.
The Verdure Alla Griglia—seasonal farmers market grilled vegetables with Malpighi white balsamic—is a nice, healthy touch, especially when you follow it with the delicious Panino Di Arugula—duck club sandwich with pancetta and arugula. This is a crowd-pleaser and paired with a nice glass of wine (or even a hearty Old Fashioned) only makes this even tastier.
And the dynamite small plates don’t end there, the Polpette—braised veal, pork and beef meatballs—are a must. These little bad boys are extremely flavorful. The same can be said for the Gnocchi Con Coda di Blue—potato gnocchi with braised oxtails and Taleggio cheese. It doesn’t get better than this rich and decadent dish.
And dessert is a must! The Ciambelle Dolci—Italian doughnuts served with an orange glaze—is outrageously delicious, as is the Cremino di Cioccolato—chocolate mousse with salted caramel, cream and sugar cookies—which pairs excellent with a glass of Port wine.
If you find the long list of wines from the award-winning menu too daunting, just ask for general manager and sommelier Massimo Aronne—trust me, you’ll be in good hands. Dining downstairs in the formal restaurant would be charming and relaxing, but if you can, dining alfresco seems to be unbeatable.
Michael's on Naples Ristorante is located at 5620 East 2nd Street in Long Beach. Hours: Sunday - Thursday 5pm- 10pm; Friday - Saturday 5pm - 11pm. Call 562-439-7080.
By: Jose Martinez
Some photography courtesy of Michael’s On Naples