please any palate.
The owners have done a nice job updating the decor from the
"chaotic eclectic" look of the former tenant to something more
modern. Funky lighting fixtures and original abstract art (for sale)
frame the rooms of dark booths and wooden furniture. Add some light,
jazzy tunes and a friendly staff, and the scene is set for a pleasant
A savvy new kid knows how to make a good first impression, and the
bruschetta did not disappoint. Fresh tomatoes mixed with garlic oil
and basil, then heaped on grilled bread and, for something extra,
drizzled with a balsamic glaze. Delicious! Fresh-shucked oysters are
also on the appetizer menu, and those of us who have acquired a taste
for the love 'em or hate 'em crustaceans have reason to smile. The
half-dozen I enjoyed tasted fresh and were a nice size.
On the whole, the salads are very good, but I was disappointed
with the Caesar. Not enough of the crunchy parts of the romaine for
me, and the dressing was a bit vinegary. The mista and spinach
salads, on the other hand, are wonderful. The mista has a balsamic
dressing with a hint of sweetness that reminded my wife of her
Italian aunt's recipe. It's topped with gorgonzola cheese, something
you don't usually get on a mista. Not to be outdone, the spinach
salad boasts caramelized walnuts that sweetly complement the bacon,
red onion and pecorino cheese.
For entrees, the chef's special seafood risotto was, in a word
(OK, four words) out of this world. Mixed seafood was expertly
blended with creamy, cheesy Italian rice. It ranks right up there
with the best risottos I've ever had. The New York steak, however,
did not rank nearly so well. It was thin and not well trimmed,
leaving too much fat and gristle on my plate. Not my favorite thing.
The gorgonzola mushroom sauce nearly made up for it, but not quite.
If you're in the mood for a sandwich, head for the paninis,
Italian grilled sandwiches, served with mouth-watering garlic fries.
The sausage with cheese and chicken parmigiana are particularly good.
They're dressed with an olive pesto, but for my sausage panini, I
added a little marinara sauce for dipping. A nice alternative to
All in all, Michael's offers very enjoyable meals with most
entrees coming in under $13. Throw in live music most nights and
discounted tropical drinks every Monday, and it's clear that the
owners know that giving customers something extra is the way to earn
their business and loyalty. So stop by and welcome this worthy
newcomer to the neighborhood. After all, as your new food reviewer, I
know how he feels!
* BILL SCOLLON lives in Burbank. Reach him at