Sun-Thu, noon-10pm; Fri-Sat, noon-11pm; Mon, closed
B, Q at Kings Hwy.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Standing outside Michael’s, it’s easy to assume the default jaded-diner stance, given the tacky stone façade, goofy awnings, and high-flying American flag. But beyond the faux-grotto effect lies excellent Italian food that confounds city diners’ pretensions. From the outset, the kitchen’s proficiency is solid. A fresh apple and blue cheese salad, studded with walnuts and bedded on baby arugula, melds tender sweetness with the pepper-bite of autumn. Veal scallopine prepared four ways and branzino filet retain their delicacy despite sturdy saucing. Portions are also waistline-defying: Gargantuan lobster tails and monster chicken parm make mountains on oversized dinner plates; appetizers could solo as entrees. Balloon glasses of good wine are generously poured as well. With live, all-standards piano tinkling in the background, it’s easy to time-travel here, to an era when people dressed for dinner. Which makes sense, because Michael’s has been around for a while: It began as a pizza shop that grew into Mike’s, a cozy red-sauce joint. But as the generations have grown up, so has Michael’s. Those same folks who might’ve come starched and well-coiffed are back as birthday-celebrating grandparents and tote home extra baba rhum (made across the street at Michael's Bakery) and cannoli to their families.
Party planners, both amateur and professional, team up with Michael’s chefs to create memorable events in the adjacent catering hall or, for smaller groups, in the lower-level dining room.
Apple, walnut, and blue cheese salad, $12; penne puttanesca, $19; veal scallopini marsala, $26