Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Michael Annandono, chef/owner of Michaelangelo’s in Little Italy, emailed me a copy of his new summer menu a couple of weeks ago, with the comment, “I think this is one of my best.” After visiting the restaurant and sampling a variety of the dishes on it, I have to agree.
It reads as though it were created just for me, and I's like to try everything. So instead of struggling with making choices- this was the end of a long, hot day full of decisions- the husband and I put ourselves in the chef’s hands. He was happy to oblige, selecting his favorites and assembling what proved to be a truly phenomenal meal.
We started with paper thin slices of air cured beef topped with a round of burrata, a solid shell of fresh mozzarella with a soft cheese and cream center, and a spoonful of eggplant caponata. Our other app was tonno crudo, a mound of yellow fin tuna tartare served with a fried soft boiled egg, the yolk still runny, and a heavenly truffle balsamic. And speaking of heavenly, the cioppino special was among the finest versions of this seafood stew I’ve ever had, a zesty broth (and toasted bread smeared with pesto to dip in it, densely populated with in-shell mussels and clams, scallops, and prawn split lengthwise.
Mini-orders of pasta gave us the chance to enjoy two kinds of ravioli; one filled with asparagus and presented with bits of lump crab and saffron cream, and the other featuring veal and truffles, sautéed mushrooms and Fontina cheese. We shared an outstanding fish course- pan seared Lane Snapper, a type unfamiliar to me with firm sweet tasting flesh, seasoned with fennel pollen, and plated with a little wheel of cracked pepper polenta and a truffled cauliflower puree that I could eat every day for the rest of my life and never tire of.
Edging dangerously close to full and thinking of quitting, the look and aroma of the grilled lamb loin chops kept us in the game. Meat on these little guys was really tender and the dried cherry vinaigrette provided a wonderful accent. Loved the cannellini beans, escarole with shaved grand cru pecorino accompaniments. Nice list wine list here but we agreed that if there was a bottle we’d inevitably consume it all and pay the price the next morning when the alarm went off early, so we drank modestly- only a glass each. I took my time with a Sangiovese, a versatile Italian red that works well with many different things, and my last sip followed the final forkful of meat.
A couple of scoops of blood orange gelato- they make a different flavor every day- and we were done. The white tablecloth ambiance, smooth service, and wonderful food had turned an ordinary Thursday night into a very special occasion- and that’s exactly what a good restaurant and a skilled chef should do. There are many reasons for us to go back , among them the desire to taste more of this menu. High on my must try list are the organic salmon carpaccio with Castelvetrano olives and chardonnay grappa; grilled rack of wild boar ribs, fennel salad and blood orange balsamic glaze; and Annandono’s handmade ricotta and veal stuffed cannelloni with guanciale and mascarpone cream. All I can say is that this is one chef who knows how to give a girl what she wants.