Michael’s Earns Top Spots In Zagat 2013 Survey: Best Italian Food, Best Pizzeria

michaelsonnaples

Photo: Memo Eats

The people of Southern California have spoken and—much to the shock of the local culinary scene—Long Beach is now home to the Best Italian Restaurant and Best Pizzeria in Los Angeles. Michael’s on Naples and Michael’s Pizzeria took home top honors in their respective categories for Zagat’s 2013 LA Restaurant guide, the contents of which went live last week.

Michael’s on Naples was also named as the second best restaurant in the entire Southland region, seconded only to Beverly Hills’ insanely pricey but ultimately sublime Urasawa. Both Michael’s on Naples and Michael’s Pizzeria are owned by local visionary Michael Dene and they are the only two Long Beach establishments to place in any culinary category this year (Sir Winston’s won for best decor). 

The honor that both of Dene’s spots have achieved is one that should not be downsized, for if there is one thing that is great about Zagat, it is that it is wholly democratic. But instead of having the public write wordy reviews of restaurants, Zagat asks patrons to survey them on scales. This gives Zagat much more authority than Yelp!, Citysearch, and other user review-based companies—and foodies take the results quite seriously.

So when the 18,000-plus votes casted for restaurants throughout the greater L.A. area were aggregated via Google (who purchased the company last year), and Dene’s restaurant and pizzeria scored top rankings, Long Beach finally won itself a place on the foodie radar.

Ousting Venice Italian staple Piccolo (no. 2 in Italian; no. 6 overall) and intimate Beverly Boulevard destination Angelini Osteria (no. 3 in Italian; no. 10 overall), Dene’s five year-old dinner-only Naples restaurant boasts over 500 wines and prepares seasonal dishes which opt for locally grown, organic ingredients—a nod to the slow food movement which is becoming increasingly popular in Long Beach and abroad.

Dene’s year-old winning pizzeria—known for its traditioanl flash-cooked Napoli-style pizza, served whole and unsliced—is located next door to Michael’s on Naples and serves as a more casual alternative to the fine dining restaurant. A second location opened in Rancho Mirage and a third is slated to open on the Promenade by early next year.

Michael’s on Naples is located at 5620 E. Second Street. For reservations, call 562-439-7080.

Michael’s Pizzeria is located at 5615 E. Second Street; phone number is the same.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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