By Ellen Paris
Michael's Pizzeria — The River's newest and most innovative eatery — melds contemporary Italian food with traditional Napolistyle pizza and non-traditional Italian offerings. All are crafted with the freshest homemade ingredients. “From farm to fork is how we see our food every day,” explains Proprietor Michael Dene, who also owns Michael’s on Naples Ristorante in Long Beach, Zagat’s no. 1-rated Italian restaurant in Los Angeles County. Michael’s Pizzeria was named no. 1 pizzeria in Los Angeles area by Zagat as well. Michael and Chef David Coleman are replicating those accolades daily in Rancho Mirage with offerings ranging from the Margherita D.O.P. (Denomination of Origin Protected) pizza to the highly addictive Pistacchio e Stracciatella pizza. The menu is extensive, including eight choices of antipasti and five distinct formaggi.
Michael’s Pizzeria opened in July and is already accumulating scores of fans who — once they’ve tried Michael’s handcrafted pizza made with tomatoes imported from Italy, house-made pizza dough, mozzarella, and sausage — are hooked. Local farmers and growers supply much of the produce, and the bread is house-made daily.
“We’re just keeping it real,” is one of the taglines of the establishment, which is much more than a pizzeria. Its interior melds mid-century with contemporary. The space is light and bright and seats 50. A marble bar with 12 seats faces the open kitchen, where crunchy, homemade cannoli shells are filled with ricotta cheese and chocolate chips in front of you. Having a gelato machine imported from Italy ensures quality and freshness for their ever-changing selection of housemade gelatos, the perfect après movie dessert. “We have a dream team creating our menu and cooking,” Dene notes. A wood-fired pizza oven, also imported from Italy, cooks a pizza in 90 seconds at 850 degrees. “You’ll have pizza for the very first time,” Dene adds. That’s pizza, in true Napoli style.
71800 Highway 111, Suite A122, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
• Arancini — Saffron and braised oxtail fried rice croquettes
• Insalata di Finocchi — Shaved fennel, confit artichokes, goat cheese, pine nuts, and arugula
• Insalata di Pecorino e Pere — Shaved Anjou pear, sweet pecorino, and frisee salad
• Polipo con Patate — Roasted octopus and potatoes with garlic, olive oil, and lemon
• Lasagna Napoletana — White pasta layered with house-made mozzarella, meat sauce, and parmiggiano
• Margherita D.O.P. (Denomination of Origin Protected) — Tomato, house-made mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil
• Vongole — Manila clams, tomato, parsley, and spicy Calabrian pepperoncino
• Prosciutto e Arugula — Tomato, house-made mozzarella, Parma prosciutto, and arugula
• Pistacchio e Stracciatella — Mortadella, stracciatella, pistachio, and olive oil
• Caprino e Carciofi — Goat cheese, baby artichokes, fingerling potatoes, mozzarella, and, pesto
• Gelato — Daily selections of house-made gelato
• Pizzetta alla Nutella — Hazelnut and chocolate cream with gelato