Last night my other half and I went to celebrate our birthdays at Michael's on Naples. The LA Times review piqued our interest, and we remember the space from when it was No Name Restaurant (or something)-- 101 omelettes! The new space is stylish and beautiful, and the upstairs patio is an ideal place to spend an evening.
And we spent the evening there. We got the five-course tasting menu, AND we asked for the sommelier to arrange wine pairings. It ended up being a three-hour experience. How was it? Wonderful. Delicious. I didn't take notes, so I'm going to be a bit fuzzy on exact details, but the courses were basically the menu's Greatest Hits:
1. Amuse-bouche of squid-ink ravioli filled with lobster and eggplant, accompanied by a dry, high-quality prosecco. A lovely start; delicate, precise flavors in balance, with the sweetness of the ravioli filling countered by the gentle bite of the prosecco.
2. Baby greens salad with raw baby artichoke, haricots verts and asparagus slices, accompanied by a Sicilian rosé. Again, subtlety in flavors was the rule; it was a refreshing salad with complementary tastes in balance. The rosé by itself was on the slightly sweet side, but gained surprising depth when paired with the tart vinaigrette (lemon) and the slightly bitter greens (arugula).
3. Pappardelle with shrimp in a butter and sage sauce, accompanied by a Ligurian white. This was the thinnest pappardelle I've ever eaten, perfectly prepared and paired with some of the most delicious shrimp I've had in years. The sauce wasn't cloyingly heavy or excessively rich, just a perfect medium for this simple preparation. The Ligurian white was surprising; on its own it had little character (almost no bouquet, little presence), but when drunk with this dish it came alive. Clearly the sommelier knows what he's doing, so when you go to Michael's, take advantage of his expertise.
4. Grilled medium-rare yellowfin tuna with olives over sautéed gnocchi, accompanied by a Sicilian white. Oh. My.Gawd. Words fail me. Every element was delicious, but when combined it just transcended the individual ingredients. This was a big, bold white, and it stood up to everything on the plate. Wow.
5. Osso buco with haricots verts and saffron risotto, accompanied by a Barolo. Holy moley. One big veal shank off the bone, with the bone served alongside for diners to get the marrow. Absolutely delicious. Melt in your mouth meat, decadent risotto perfectly al dente, and nice crunchy haricots verts. The Barolo was old and complex and incredible; the wood and tobacco notes really made the whole course sing.
They threw in desserts-- a little chocolate cake with gelato, and a berry cake. AND a little glass of Tuscan Muscato, which tasted like pernod with a hint of ripe nectarines. Truly delightful.
We left feeling quite a bit heavier, but lighter in the wallet. Dinner for two with the wine pairings, two bottles of sparkling Italian water and two cappucinos: $312 all in, including tip for our beautiful, wonderful server Daniela. But worth every penny. We'll be back.