So I saw this place opened up pretty recently on Hylan Boulevard, a main strip on Staten Island. It’s very convenient to home, and I had been dying to try it, as a self-declared groupie of all things meatball, and all things martinis. The place earned a 3 star Baconboozer rating. Justin and I stopped in last Sunday, September 21, at about 7:00 pm. No reservation was needed, as the place was fairly empty, and we were seated immediately. The waitress was extremely friendly and helpful, and we were also greeted by the owner’s son, Michael Jr.
Justin and I both drank a dirty martini, although the martini and drink lists were quite long, including 30 martinis, specialty cocktails, a handful of beers and wines by the glass, as well as red or white sangria. The martini was spot on, although it’s listed on the menu as coming with jumbo blue cheese stuffed olives, whereas ours came with standard green olives. The waitress did apologize, admitting that they had run out – and in my book an apology goes a long way, so no biggie.
Our meal is pictured above, as we decided to share four appetizers instead of choosing any larger dishes. From left to right:
Sausage stuffed portobello mushrooms: the stuffing was great but the dish as a whole was a little sloppy and nothing to write home about.
Veal and ricotta meatballs: these were excellent, although definitely heavy on the breadcrumbs. I wish more of our dishes were as delicious as this was.
Sinatra scallops: these were cooked well, and were good, but nothing I haven’t tasted or seen in other restaurants.
Boneless short ribs: I am a sucker for a short rib, but these were a little less tender than I’m used to. The flavor of the sauce was great, but the meat needed to cook a lot longer to soak it all up better.
For dessert we did the chocolate trilogy:
All in all I enjoyed the experience at Michael’s, and I see a lot of potential in this place, but these are my suggestions for the owner: narrow down your menus. The name of the place is meatballs and martinis, and I think it might be wiser to focus on and perfect those specialties, as that is what most people are going to come in for. Upon sitting down I was really overwhelmed by the pages of appetizers, including several stuffed mushroom options, multiple calamaris, three sliders, and risotto, among many others. That on top of more pages of salads, pastas, pizzas, paninis, and entrees was just way too much. It would serve you well to eliminate all but your favorites/top-sellers from each of these categories and find ways to really elevate and perfect those dishes. As I mentioned in my review above, a lot of the things I tasted were good, but easy to find equally at any Italian place. Take the things you really love that are really special and be creative with them.
Your meatballs were certainly a highlight of my meal. How about a “meatball flight” or “sampler” where newbies can come and taste your variety so they can find their favorite and keep coming back for it? And why not make an appetizer sized version of each variety, along with an entrée sized option, pairing each meatball with a different, specially chosen pasta. It might even be interesting to do a martini/meatball pairing. Simple and fun concepts like this are what a specialty place needs to bring people back. I can get a panini anywhere.
The decor of the place was nice, and the service was, as I said, great. I think most people are coming here for meatballs and martinis and those should be the bulk of your menu, with both traditional and unusual spins on each. I look forward to coming back soon and hopefully upping my rating to 4 or 5 stars, because there is definitely some potential here. I welcome the opportunity to write an addendum to this review!