Continues Tradition at The River — Napoli-style Pizza Arrives in Untraditional Style
By Ellen Paris
Michael's Pizzeria — The River's newest and most innovative eatery — melds contemporary Italian food with traditional Napoli-style 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 house-made 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.
Price Range: $$
Michael’s Pizzeria founder Michael Dene (left) with Executive Chef David Coleman and General Manager Pietro Luca Bordignon celebrate their newest restaurant, now open at The River.
Signature and seasonal items featured at Michael’s Pizzeria are (clockwise, left) the Margherita D.O.P. (Denomination of Origin Protected) pizza with house-made mozzarella, fresh basil, tomato, and olive oil; Torta di Mandorle, an almond cake with rosemary sauce; Insalada Invernale with winter root vegetables, pancetta, roasted pumpkin seeds, and herb buttermilk dressing; two sizzling cast iron dishes the Vongole Arrabbiate, in which sautéed Manila clams are bathed in a spicy tomato sauce, and the classic Lasagna Napoletana, featuring white pasta layered with mozzarella, meat sauce, and Parmesan cheese; and the seasonal, festively presented proscuitto and melon.
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