Overview: When Michael Dene opened his namesake restaurant Michael’s on Naples, it quickly became a dining destination for gourmands. Aside from nearby Kelly’s, Naples Island didn’t really have any fine dining restaurants and the arrival of Michael’s helped to bolster the island’s restaurant scene. About two years after opening Michael’s on Naples, an empty storefront two doors down soon had a sign in its window reading “Michael’s Pizzeria Coming Soon” and skeptics started to wonder if lightening could (or would) strike twice for Michael Dene, a former lighting executive with apparently some rather bright ideas.
Decor: Great things really do come in small packages or, in the case of Michael’s Pizzeria, small spaces. The motif, a mix of ebony and white with pleasing citrus accents, creates a hip look that is embraces an uncluttered and streamline feel. A long banquette runs the length of one wall with tables for two, crowned with white Carrera marble with rich black veins, neatly aligned and ready to be joined together to create communal dining for larger parties. A handful of tables line the other side of the restaurant as well. The micro-sized exhibition kitchen, where the chef prepares everything (and I mean everything) from scratch, sits in the back allowing guests to watch the culinary show unfold. And, speaking of chefs, the chef, Joseph Boness, dabbles in more than just the culinary arts. His Fellini film-inspired paintings don the walls of Michael’s Pizzeria. A chef that can cook and paint – who knew?
The Food: The latte-colored paper menus (which also serve as placemats) offer six categories of dining--Antipasti, Insalate, Pizze, Formaggi, Salumi and I Dolci—and no more than 20 menu items. Pizza is pizza, right? Wrong. Chef Boness spent more than a month training with one of Italy’s only Michelin-starred pizza master in Naples, Italy, and whatever expense Michael Dene incurred are sure to payoff. Chef Boness makes Napoli-style pizza, which is individualized, extremely thin crusted and the reason that Michael’s Pizzeria keeps each pie authentic by not slicing it (although they’re willing to make exceptions upon request). Each pizza bakes in under two minutes within the confines of the Italian-made, wood-burning oven which is serves as the kitchen’s centerpiece and is visible from every seat in the house. Everything on the menu is authentic and exceptional, from the house-made mozzarella baked with speck to the hand-cut (again, you can observe this from your seat) prosciutto and mortadella used to create a lovely charcuterie plate. A selection of white and red wine—Italian, of course—are available as well as a few handcrafted microbrews on tap.
Service: In a word – exceptional. Rebecca, our server, was attentive but never hovered. The food (thanks to that en fuego pizza oven!) arrived to our table hot and fast. A glass water bottle was placed within reach, but we never even had to extend an arm because as soon as the water started to evaporate our glass was quickly refilled. Everything at Michael’s Pizzeria was simply perfect or, as they say in Italy, perfetto!
Address: 5616 E. Second Street, Naples Island
Hours: Monday-Thursday 12pm-3pm Lunch, 5-10pm dinner; Friday-Sunday 12pm-11pm
Disabled Access: Yes
Parking Info: Street parking or valet parking in front of Michael’s on Naples
Restaurant type: Casually upscale
Restaurant attributes: Date Worthy, Limited Seating, Indoor Dining Only, Perfect for Fromage/Charcuterie and Wine, Credit Cards Accepted