You may get an argument about whether there are four seasons in the greater Palm Springs area.
“All Michael’s restaurants, from the fine dining Michael’s on Naples to the pizzerias, source locally as possible for the best, farm-to-table ingredients,” says Allan Rietveld, sous chef and kitchen manager for the Rancho Mirage location. “I love working for a place that changes seasonally; there’s always something different, something new.”
“The menu changes every four months to reflect the seasons,” adds Manager Sheila Rae Mazza. “Two weeks ago the spring menu came out with several new dishes in each category.”
Kale, fava beans, strawberries, English peas, asparagus, and rapini make their spring debut in salads, antipasti and, of course pizza. House made sorbettos accent the dessert menu daily with fresh fruit flavors.
“Sorbets are never ending,” said Rietveld. “I just made a vanilla-orange one, also fresh strawberries, and raspberry-lime — whatever looks good and is in season!”
Michael’s Executive Chef David Coleman in Long Beach is head honcho for all the menu changes; Beverage Manager Massimo Aronne creates wine pairings suggestions, noted with symbols on the food menu that connect to the wine list.
What’s New on the Menu
Fava beans, a staple of Mediterranean cuisine in springtime, are served as an antipasti, chilled with shaved pecorino cheese, and on a new pizza with salami, tomatoes, Calabrese and Michael’s famous house-made fresh mozzarella cheese.
The colorful Insalata Riccia (pictured at right) tosses kale leaves with candied walnuts, gorgonzola cheese and sliced strawberries in a pesto vinaigrette. Sweetened crunchy walnuts and juicy strawberries are a delicate balance to tangy gorgonzola cheese and leafy, bitter kale.
Asparagus Crudi, a mound of thin asparagus ribbons, has salty morsels of prosciutto tucked in the mix, topped with shaved sharp Grana cheese. Vegetables also star in the pizza Verdure along with fava beans, sliced zucchini rounds, English peas, rapini, and mozzarella.
One of the calzones changes up to combine house-made sausage, ricotta, mozzarella cheese, and English peas; and the Gnocchi alla Bolognese has a lighter beef and veal meat sauce for the season.
What’s on Tap
Michael’s sources predominately Italian wines listed not only as red or white, but also by their flavor and acidic profiles, marked with dotted symbols (like dice) that connect to the suggested wines paired on the menu.
For example, vino bianco (white wine) that offer “bright acidity, generous minerals and a crispy finish” – like pinot grigio and Prosecco — have a single dot symbol. Find this symbol next to the salads and certain pizzas, and “connect the dots” for a perfect match.
In addition to the Italian wines by the 6- or 9-ounce glass or bottle, Michael’s also offers four California wines on tap that rotate frequently. On tap this month are Trefethen Riesling, Hess Chardonnay, Aiden Pinot Noir, and Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon.
Craft beers on the spigot include Birra Moretti from Italy, Duvel Single from Belgium, and several California micro brews: Coachella Valley Brewing Company’s Big Cat (a portion of proceeds benefits The Living Desert); Manzanita Chaotic Double IPA from Santee; Bear Republic Racer 5 from Healdsburg; and Poolside Blonde from La Quinta Brewery.
Michael’s Pizzeria, 71800 Highway 111, The River, Rancho Mirage, (760) 341-4222. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.