Meandering through the narrow, curved streets of Capri, where I vacation pretty much on a yearly basis, my friend and I happened to stumble on a new and original find. Michel’angelo is rather unique among restaurant choices on the island. Yes, it takes the traditional, puts a modern twist on it, and turns it into something special by using only the finest ingredients. But beyond being merely a restaurant, it offers cooking courses for tourists, creating immersive experiences that rather cleverly cater to a new generation of visitors to the island in the manner in which it does so. It’s perhaps because it’s run by the international couple of Gianluca (Italian) and Holly (Australian) that they do so with such a pulse on how to cater to an international set of visitors. Having met them as we passed by, we were touched by their friendliness and warmth, and decided to have dinner there that same night. Spoiler alert: it was so good that I ate here twice, and the below review is a combination of the two experiences.
We arrived at the welcoming restaurant, which very cleverly is designed to feel like part of it is outdoors: part restaurant, part outdoor terrace complete with greenery hanging from above in a refined, elegant way. This feeling is carried on once you are seated, as it is clear that much thought has been put in the design and selection of flatware, glassware and general table setting. Not long after, a selection of delicious, soft bread rolls arrive and are served with olive oil – but this is not just any olive oil! Three of them are served and the photo above, you see olive oils infused with rosemary, lemon and basil. I can assure you, they were all absolutely delicious! The flavours of the infusions were clearly evident without being too overpowering, and you can see from the colour alone before you even taste that this olive oil is of a superior quality. What a great start to the meal…
We continued on with a starter to share: fried calamari tossed in garlic oil, served with the chef’s side of the day. This was some of the best calamari I’ve had, and very obviously freshly caught that day. In hindsight, however, I’m not sure it was a portion that was worthy of sharing, but I’m pleased we didn’t go for one each because we had been filling up on bread! An amateur’s mistake, but too good to resist…
On the second time I dined here, I went a different way for the appetiser: sauté of clams and mussels in white wine garlic sauce served with toasted crostini bread. Oh. My. Goodness. Those clams and mussels were absolutely divine! And the sauce that resulted from their cooking was the most wonderful salty, flavourful sauce I could have hoped for. Luckily I not only let the crostini absorb the sauce until they became soft with the absorption of this liquid golden joy, but I saved one of my bread rolls to finish the job as well! I adored this dish: I could have had this every night.
When it came to the main dish, Gianluca himself advised me both nights. The first time, I combined the freshly made pasta from one dish with the toppings of another dish, and had the scialatielli pasta with mixed seafood and a lemon sauce. After all, when you’re on the island of lemons, what more obvious combination could there be? The scialatelli very much tasted homemade which was lovely… and the seafood? Deliciously fresh, of course! The lemon gave the dish a refreshing and deceptively light feeling while you were eating… of course the portion was so large you didn’t feel quite so light after – but it was too good to regret.
The second main dish I had at Michel’angelo was also a bit custom made: I wanted a classic frutti di mare (seafood) pasta dish but was actually feeling rather lazy at the thought of peeling all the shrimp and such, and so the kitchen very kindly served it for me already ready to eat – no peeling required! I think that because of the ease with which I could eat it, I might have actually enjoyed this one even more. Every element, from the shrimp to the octopus to the clams and everything in between, was perfectly cooked and tasted like it had just come from the sea. And that’s because it had: it’s one of the joys of eating fish when you’re on an island. It was spectacular.
I did fail to take a photo of the dessert I had the first night: one of the most most amazing homemade lemon-flavoured torte caprese I have ever had in my life! Moist, full of flavour, I can’t believe we almost didn’t order it because we were full! I would get back on a plane to Capri for this dessert; I cannot express fully how delicious this was.
Ok so all in all, both evenings were truly delicious dinners that I would gladly recommend. On a return trip to the island I am sure I will be dining here again… and if I wasn’t already competent in the kitchen when it came to Italian food, I’d consider their cooking courses too!
*Calories: ok, I think I logged something like 1,300 calories for this, but I know I’m only fooling myself. This dinner was easily 2,000 calories. Just think: 1 tablespoon of olive oil is about 120 calories, which means before the appetiser even arrived something like 600+ calories in bread and oil were consumed alone. But hey, it was a holiday…
Food taste: 4.3 / 5 (It was pretty delicious all around; there is crazy high competition on this island and it’s hard to eat badly here)
Food/table presentation: 4.5 / 5 (Comfortably sized table and seating, lovely linens and flatware, dishes plated simply but with care)
Service: 4.5 / 5 (I had the utmost care and attention when it came to the selection of dishes, and on the second night in which I dined solo, the staff were very kind about keeping me company)
Atmosphere/decor: 4.3 / 5 (Comfortable, clean, refined… it was a lovely dining atmosphere)
Value for money: 3.5 / 5 (This was hard because I was on Capri, one of the most expensive, elite islands around, and everything is skewed. The calamari starter alone was 18 euros; the saute’ clams and mussels starter was 20 euros. Based on local average prices this was a touch above average; based on London averages this was higher. But it really was all of a high calibre).
Overall rating: 4.2/ 5