February 2008 Issue
February's Featured Restaurant
Michaelangelo's, located in Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood, may not be my grandmother's kitchen, but the aromas wafting from executive chef and co-owner Michael Annandono's kitchen on the night I visited were similar enough that I instantly felt at ease. Rustic meat dishes, such as osso buco, and hearty pastas ruled the menu, perfect for a blustery winter night. And, like my grandma's house, the restaurant is warm and inviting, right down to its sunny, contemporary ambiance.
Selecting appetizers from the menu's appealing array was challenging, but after much deliberation, my guest and I ordered Kobe beef carpaccio and calamari. It's hard to say which was better – the carpaccio was delicate and flavorful, while the calamari was grilled to tender perfection and finished off with balsamic vinegar and lemon oil.
|Tiny dark-chocolate cups hold macchiato mousse.
|The cozy lounge displays the restaurant's wine offerings.
Both were light enough to leave room for the entrees. When asked to name her menu favorites, our attentive server was torn between two pasta dishes – cannelloni stuffed with ricotta and veal and finished with a pancetta and cream sauce, and lobster ravioli with jumbo shrimp served in a vodka cream sauce. My guest chose the ravioli and I ordered the duck with a porcini mushroom sauce, also a favorite of Michaelangelo's diners.
It's easy to see why the dishes are popular. Our entrees were savory and satisfying – rich enough for a cold winter's night but not so heavy that they left us feeling stuffed. We even managed to sample the macchiato mousse. The chocolate- and espresso-flavored dessert is served in three tiny cups made of crisp dark chocolate and finished with a dollop of cream.
If you're not up for a full meal, stop by to enjoy a cocktail and appetizers in the intimate lounge area, with its stone fireplace, cozy leather chairs and impressive array of wine displayed in glass cases that continue into the dining room.
While nothing beats a trip to Italy (or to my grandmother's house), Michaelangelo's is the next best thing. Chef Annandono spent more than three years in Italy attending culinary school and working at pastry and food shops, and that experience shines through in his pairings and presentations, as well as the restaurant's Tuscan-style décor.
CLEVELANDMICHAELANGELO'S 2198 Murray Hill Rd., 216/721-0300. www.mangelos.com. Mon.–Thur. 5:30–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5 p.m.–midnight, Sun. 5–9 p.m. Reservations accepted. Entrees $18–$35. CR, 3