Location: 5620 E 2nd St. Long Beach, CA 90803. (562) 439-7080
Date: February 21, 2019
Rating: A top LA Italian
A couple years ago, we organized some Hedonist outings to Michael’s on Naples, rated on the Zagat list as #2 best restaurant in all Los Angeles. I co-organized this one with our fearless leader Yarom, myself, coordinating and designing the menu as well as ordering the wines. So many things sounded good that I came up with a 14 course extravaganza. The resulting Hedonistic Italian blowout ended up (with some alternates) as a total feast of great wine and food.
Michael’s is located on Naples Island, a bridge-connected island in Longbeach that looks so much like Florida they use it to film much of Dexter‘s Miami. During Fred’s recent visit the Foodie Club wanted to get together again with Orange County member, Kent — so we chose Michael’s this time as our southern destination.
Our special menu.
Fred brought (from Walker’s collection): 1959 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon. JK 96. Stunning, just stunning.
Stuzzichino. Pizzette. Grilled flat bread with mortadella, burrata, pistachios. This wasn’t my favorite. Maybe the texture of the dough.
Risotto. Carnaroli rice, Dungeness crab, lobster, bottarga, meyer lemon. I thought I’d absolutely love this, as I generally adore seafood risotto. It was good, with nice lobster/crab flavor, but was maybe a little mild. Maybe it needed to be creamier?
From my cellar: 1997 Domaine Leroy Corton-Renardes. VM 91-94. Deep ruby-red. Wild, superripe aromas of liqueur-like cherry, smoke and game. Very concentrated, ripe and smoky in the mouth; a voluminous wine that’s supersweet without being overripe. Real grand cru size and power. Intriguing torrefaction notes of mocha and coffee. Finishes extremely long, with firm tannins and a late burst of cherry. Wow!
Fred says: The wonderful Leroy spice nose just stuns. So perfect that the only critique is that it is too perfect and too Leroy. Easily the best Corton Renards I have had. In a really nice drink window right now. The plate is very dense and long but accessible. There is a hint if heat and volitility if you look hard enough and if you are comparing to Rousseau Chambertin. A stunner.
agavin: loved this wine, with tons of dried fruit.
Erick brought: 2000 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Chambertin. JG 96. The 2000 Rousseau Chambertin another majestic example of the vintage, and there cannot be too many 2000 reds that are in this same league. The deep and utterly classic nose soars from the glass in a blend of raspberries, cherries, clove-like spice tones, coffee, a touch of venison, cedary wood and that magically complex signature of Chambertin soil tones. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very complex, with a great, great core of fruit, exquisite focus and balance, seamless tannins and exceptional length and grip on the poised, elegant and powerful finish. A great example of Chambertin.
Fred says: Gosh these are drinking well now. Decanted for sediment this was initially a little too young next to the 97 Chambertin. However it also had more length and weight. With time that youthful awkwardness resolves and again becomes a delicious and caressing Chambertin. Just starting to enter it’s drinking window. Give this a good decant or 1-2 hours in the glass. Excellent.
agavin: this was great, but I thought the 97 slight more approachable right now.
Fred brought: 1997 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Chambertin. BH 91. Dense and richly fruited with copious black fruits trimmed in a deft touch of wood followed by round, intense, full-bodied flavors and fine persistence. This is not a great Chambertin by the lofty Rousseau standards but there is plenty of wine here, not to mention excellent richness and length. It is approaching peaking drinkability though it should hold here for at least a decade. Consistent notes.
Fred says: Very much Chambertin in the nose with earth and meat aromas. On the palate dried cranberry and tart cherry fruit with a hint of sous bois. This started out wonderful then went into an awkward acidic inbalanced phase only to emerge balanced with those harsh edges disappearing 2 hours later. A wonderful wine up against some tough competition in field of Jayer, Truchot, and 00 Rousseau Chambertin.
Agnolotti. Pasta filled with braised beef cheeks, veal reduction, sage bread crumbs. Excellent and meaty. Could have maybe used more butter flavor — and more agnolotti!
Kent brought: 1987 Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaumonts. Fred says: Served double blind. The weightlessness and purity was apparent and striking. A very classy wine with just a little spice and hint of meat aromas. The hint was that it was a lighter vintage. I guess 88. Having only had Jayer one other time I dare not be so bold to think it could be another. But it was. A wonderful treat. Not as clean as the 88 Jayer Beaumonts that I had a few months ago but the weightlessness and purity of that rises above a field of Rousseau Chambertin is quite remarkable. These wines are really about length and complexity without weight. WOTN tonight.
agavin: probably my favorite wine was well. Fully mature, tons of dried fruits, great depth.
Kent brought: 2000 Domaine Truchot-Martin Clos de la Roche. JG 95. I had not tasted the 2000 Truchot Clos de la Roche in several years, as I bought more Charmes for my own cellar, and I was quite surprised to see how beautifully the Clos de la Roche is drinking today, as my bottles of Charmes (after a long and glorious period of generosity) have currently closed down again for a bit of hibernation. However, this is not the case with the 2000 Clos de la Roche, which is at its zenith and offers up a stunningly expressive nose of cherries, beetroot, mustard seed, roasted venison, a beautifully complex base of soil, woodsmoke and just a touch of new wood. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, complex and in full bloom, with a gorgeous core of fruit, glorious soil inflection, modest tannins and a very, very long, focused and tangy finish. Just a great bottle of Clos de la Roche that should continue to cruise along for decades, but is now fully into its plateau of peak maturity. A stunning wine.
Fred says: Served blind. Intense spice and sweetness on the nose. So much so I thought it must be a producer that included stems. Dusty in color, the palate was sweet and silky but with plenty of length. Truchot critics need not worry about this being too light. A wonderful wine and second only to the Jayer tonight.
Umbrian black truffles!
Malfaldine con funghi e tartufo nero. I hadn’t had this tripe-textured pasta shape before, or at least not by name and now I’ve had it twice recently.
Really great texture though and amazing pasta with the truffles. Cream and truffles, yum!
Quaglie. California quail, black lentils, heirloom carrots, apple salad.
Anatra. Whole liberty farm duck, farrotto, butternut squash, baby broccoli. Excellent duck. Farro was pleasant and grainy.
Panforte. Chocolate cake, candied citrus, honey mascarpone whip. Dry (and very Italian) but quite delicious.
Butterscotch Butterscotch Caramel Popcorn Gelato – I made my rediculously decadant homemade butterscotch, crafted a gelato from it, layered it in, and added caramel popcornjust because I could! — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — oh my! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #IceCream #NomNom #dessert #butterscotch #vanilla #popcorn #CaramelCorn #sauce #sweet!
Salty Peanut Fudge Reese’s Gelato – Salty Chunky Peanut Base with homemade Valrhona Chocolate Fudge Ribbon and mini Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups! — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — oh my! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #IceCream #NomNom #dessert #peanut #salty #reeses #peanutbuttercup #fudge #Valrhona
Strawberry Basil Hendrick’s Sorbetto – Strawberry and Hendrick’s Gin Sorbetto laced with Fresh Basil. Strawberries from Avignon — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #sorbetto #strawberry #basil #Hendricks #Gin #cocktail
Our amazing lineup.
Fred and Kent’s friend.
Kent and Erick.
Food: Execution was excellent with some dishes being stellar: duck, pastas, and the rest being just “very good.” This is very interesting modern “fancy Italian”. Some of the best in the city, but a few dishes could use more “yum.”
Wine: We had an incredible array of wines. We had incredible luck as every wine was in great shape — even the 1959 Champagne! The reds were just amazing, particular for me the 87 Jayer, 97 Leroy and 97 Rousseau.
Service: The staff did a fabulous job. At first we had a chilly table on the roof deck, but they were very nice about relocating us downstairs to a great table with tons of room. The owner came by at the end and we were chatty and sharing some wines. Plus, he loved my gelatti.
Value: Tremendous. This was just fabulous value — partially for not being in LA proper — particularly given the level of service and the lack of corkage. Bravo!
But it is FAR AWAY. haha.