As we took our seats at the sunny dining table, we remarked on what a beautiful evening it was. The sun was making its slow descent to herald the end of another glorious spring day and we were still feeling the warmth of its sinking rays.
Our dinner was an intimate affair; just the two of us in the venue. The table was laid with a linen cloth; wine glasses glistened expectantly in the evening light and there was a tiny vase of freshly-picked primroses on the table. We poured ourselves some prosecco and dinner was served.
Actually, before any of this happened, we placed our order that afternoon at the kitchen of Ryde stalwart Ristorante Michelangelo. With the Covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown showing no sign of ending, some of our favourite chefs and venues have taken to providing a takeaway or delivery service. Or, in the case of the Italian restaurant, both – if you live in the Ryde area, as we conveniently do.
Our meals were delivered to the doorstep at the requested time by a lady suitable protected with gloves and mask. Cat took the paper bags to her flat and she and Matt unpacked them in her kitchen. The food had been cooked to order and was hot and fresh.
Your typical takeaway might be a pizza in a flat box (as, in fact, our last one was – thank you, Craft Vegan Pizza), or maybe a Chinese or Indian meal in a plastic container. But salmon fillet or bruschetta? How would these dishes travel?
As it turned out, these dishes made their journey very successfully. They may have only come a short distance from the Union Street kitchen to the Cat’s home in Appley, but the carefully-packed food was almost as well-presented as if we had been in the ristorante itself.
The flavours were distinctly Italian. Cat’s melanzane alla parmigiana was spectacularly garlicky. Layers of soft baked aubergine caressed with a succulent and sparky tomato and garlic sauce, were topped with a blanket of melted mozzarella cheese.
A bruschetta was a substantial and tasty starter: a slab of rustic bread laden with sauce, grilled aubergine and generous melted chunks of mozzarella and goats’ cheese.
So, to the salmon fillet. Did it survive its brief journey? As Cat peeled away the lid from the foil container she discovered a substantial piece of pink fish – intact and steaming nicely. The salmone al gamberetti was served with sauteed potatoes (there is a choice of spuds or salad). The fish had been cooked in olive oil and white wine, and served with pesto sauce, prawns and cream. It was succulent, moist and tasty. Where other restaurants may consider more than one prawn with the addition of another to be counted as plural, Michelangelo’s chef had been generous with their allowance of the crustaceans; the sauce was chock full of these tasty morsels. Again, like her starter, the flavours of Cat’s main sung out; although more subtly than the vibrant aubergine dish.
Melanzane alla Parmigiana £8.10
Bruschetta al caprino e melanzane £6.50
Salmone al gamberetti £17.50
Cappelletti di Parma £13.50
Baca di dama £7
Torta al cioccolato £7
Those who rarely go to restaurants can sometimes be heard to complain “Why should I pay someone to make something I could cook for myself?” This is a particularly relevant complaint when eating a meal delivered to your home, because those other advantages of eating out – great service, an appealing environment, and someone else to do the washing up – are not necessarily a part of the deal.
Matt’s supper of cappelletti di Parma looked, at first glance, like that pasta you can buy fresh from the supermarket. But if you were tempted to think there is any real comparison between this dish and supermarket pasta, you’d be wrong. Michelangelo can do this far better. The bowlful of little tortellini parcels was filled with Parma ham and Parmesan cheese. This was covered in more Parma ham, tossed in Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and cream. The rich, luxurious sauce gave a tangy hit to the soft, smooth pasta and its filling. Matt’s plate was plentifully supplied, he was delighted with this Italian feast.
Figuring that if we were in an actual restaurant of this calibre we would have dessert, we’d ordered the full three courses. Cat’s baci di dama was an exquisite plateful of little coconut-rolled and coffee-soaked Amaretto biscuit balls, stuffed with Nutella and mascarpone. Normally steadfastly a fan of tiramisu, Cat thought that in these exceptional times she would break with her own tradition. And she was more than delighted that she had.
Torta al cioccolato was a classic Italian chocolate torte, and came with a scoop of mint ice cream. Yes, Michelangelo managed to deliver a scoop of ice cream, still frozen! Taking advantage of being at home, Matt donated this to Cat who eagerly devoured it.
So Michelangelo more than met expectations. We had a great evening. And how was the full-on home eating experience? We’d recommend it. Put aside your idea that take-outs are for fast food and late-night desperation. Look at it in another way: what if you think of your delivery as having a top Island chef for hire, in your own home – usually the privilege of the well-to-do. Th e coronavirus lockdown has meant that a whole range of quality Isle of Wight kitchens are delivering to us all if we want them to. And we should. It’s a great way to enjoy a top dining experience in times when such pleasures may be needed most. Although we had to do the washing up!
This is the full-length version of the review first published in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Delicious food, with authentic flavours of Italy
- Excellent choice for delivery menu
- Friendly and timely service