Sunday, August 28, 2011

Carbs, Luxurious Carbs

Living in Little Italy, I am no stranger to Italian food. My favorite on Mayfield is Etna, but La Dolce Vita's Pasta Fellini is a Fall/Winter favorite of mine. The bartenders at Maxi's are wonderful, and I really like the staff at Presti's - many of the people there have been working there (at least) as long as I've lived here, and it's kind of nice to get my pepperoni bread and iced coffee from the same folks, three years in a row.

When I first moved here, I really didn't know too much about the area. I picked my apartment online, and actually had my (then) boyfriend check it out for me. I didn't see it for the first time until I drove a U-Haul to Cleveland with everything I owned in tow. It should come as no surprise then, that I didn't really know that there were some amazing things on Murray Hill, which intersects with Mayfield. When Jeff and I were dating, the Cornell Rd. bridge was closed and he lived closer to The Triangle, so we rarely went in that direction. The street has evolved quite a bit since I moved here, with the more recent additions of the Murray Hill Market, La Pizzeria, and Washington Place Bistro.

My first stop as I was getting my sea legs on Cleveland's culinary waters, was Cleveland Foodie - a blog that I consider quintessential to navigating the diverse food culture of Cleveland. I remembered seeing her talk about Michaelangelo's in Little Italy, but I didn't really know where that was. It's been a while, but I may have discovered it while on a walk down Murray Hill. You can't see the restaurant too well from the street or sidewalk unless you're really trying, so Michaelangelo's remained shrouded in mystery for me until about a year ago.

As of last week, I have now been there a total of three times. On the first and most recent visits, my husband and I ordered multiple pasta dishes to share. It's not advertised on the menu for dinner, but you can get half orders of any of the pasta dishes (or the risotto), so we got three half orders of pasta and shared them. Last week we tried the Sacchetti (A ricotta and black truffle stuffed pasta in a black truffle cream sauce), the Raviolini (Lobster ravioli, rock shrimp and a vodka-tomato cream sauce), and the Gnocchi (Potato gnocchi with hazelnut pesto). I should also add that this was our pre-time trial "carb-up" - we participated in a (bicycle) time trial the following morning!

The half order of Sacchetti comes with 7 "purses" of pasta/stuffing, and this was the one I would have wanted all for myself. I tried it on my first visit, and the only reason I didn't get it on my second visit was because they were out. This pasta is the whole reason I love truffles. The flavors are balanced well, and the sauce is velvety and luxurious without being too heavy, something that seems nearly impossible for a cream sauce.

Lobster ravioli is something I've had elsewhere, and it's never really been a favorite of mine. That's not to say that Michangelo's version isn't amazing - it's just not really my sort of thing. The experience of eating this pasta is without a doubt, oceanic. The taste of the lobster and rock shrimp are left untouched, and speak for themselves. There is a brininess to the meat that brings back fond memories of sandy beaches and salty air.

I really loved the Gnocchi. I'd thought about it on my previous two visits, but it never made the cut. The basil is not overpowering, and the parmigiano really makes it tart and creamy. The hazelnuts were not obvious to me, aside from a textural thing. It was fun to eat, and really enjoyable.

The staff at Michaelangelo's has always been wonderful, from the moment we walk in the door. I've never been disappointed with a single thing on any of our visits, and I look forward to going again in the future. I'm almost considering it for my birthday dinner (I have it narrowed down to four restaurants - honest!)!! I hope that you consider them for your next special dinner (or lunch) if you haven't already.