Best Branzino This Side of Italy

whole grilled branzino
with brussels sprouts & beet greens
(always accompanied by what’s freshest at the farmer’s market)
served with confit meyer lemon oil

The eponymous name for his Italian Ristorante is immediately obvious. At Michael’s on Naples we get the extraordinary feeling that we are dining in Michael’s own home – from the warm sophisticated ambiance to the gracious hospitality and impeccable service, to the passion for food and wine…

Michael’s has been rated the #1 Italian restaurant in Long Beach and the #2 Italian restaurant in all of Los Angeles. The Branzino, a Mediterranean sea bass, is just one of many fabulous dishes, and happens to be our absolute favorite.

What Makes Michael’s Branzino the Best This Side of Italy?

Chef David Coleman demonstrates…

The branzino is flown in daily. From Italy. On ice. Never frozen.

The fish has been gutted and descaled. Chef Coleman removes the entire skeleton. Only the head and tail are left intact. All the fileting of the fish is done in the kitchen before cooking which makes for expedited table service. The branzino is presented whole, with head and tail at the table. The waiter then whisks the dish back to the kitchen for a brief moment and returns with a perfect hot moist filet.

I was so fortunate to be invited into the kitchen to photograph the process.

Removing the dorsal fin.

Fresh branzino are ready to season and grill.

Not that many hours ago, these sea bass were swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.

In the walk-in: Meyer lemons in the process of curing for the Confit Meyer Lemon Oil.

The fish are seasoned with salt and pepper, stuffed with a few lemon wheels, then grilled. The simple preparation allows the character of the delicate flesh to shine through. Grilling over a hot fire imparts the wonderful smokey component through the skin which complements the fish, rather than overpowering it. The edible skin is crisp and charred. The meat is moist and buttery, flaky yet smooth, firm yet tender, silky, like nothing else. Confit Meyer Lemon Oil adds a clean fresh citrusy dimension to the dish.

served here with spinach & potato gnocchi
confit meyer lemon oil

Please stop by next week when I share other dishes by this outstanding chef.
The Best Branzino This Side of Italy clearly merited its very own post!

Michael’s on Naples Ristorante
5620 East 2nd Street • Long Beach, California

UPDATE: “Gracious Italian Hospitality, A Most Memorable Meal”
@ Michael’s on Naples now posted here.

16 thoughts on “Best Branzino This Side of Italy”

  1. what a great post, I love all the step by step pictures and the presentation is beautiful!!
    I do love Branzino! This gives me a good reason to come to LA!

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