Michael's Pizzeria

by Matt Armendariz
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michaelslogo.jpgYou might remember we were on a slight squash kick recently. It coincided with a visit to one of my favorite restaurants here in Long Beach, Michael’s Pizzeria. I’ve said a million times that I don’t really “do” restaurant coverage because a) it’s overdone and b) it’s not my thing. I think the irony is that I get to eat in some of the most amazing places all over the damn globe and could probably have a blog over just restaurants alone, but again, it’s best left for others. Having said that, when I do write about a restaurant it’s because I find it pretty special and/or I’ve graciously stolen a recipe to inspire me at home. This is one of those cases on both accounts.

A few things you will not engage me on unless we are best friends and in the comfort of my own home: religion, women’s reproductive rights, politics, and who makes the best pizza. I’m no dummy. Each topic is loaded with sensitivity, opinion, and weighs a million tons. I’m better off just smiling and talking about pretty plates and napkins and puppies.

When it comes to pizza, I will not argue with you about what you like or who makes the better pie. Why waste my time? I will, however, tell you that I prefer a thinner crust, only a few high quality toppings, and fired quickly at a high temperature. See? How evasive was that? Truth be told, meet my few easy requirements and chances are I’ll enjoy it. Which is why I prefer pizza napoletana. Keep your deep dish, pal.

Wait. Why on earth am I talking about pizzas and birth control when I meant to discuss acorn squash? Oh yes, Michael’s.

acornricotta.jpg This little pizzeria in Long Beach makes a really delicious Neapolitan pizza just the way I like it. A very nice dough that walks the line between chewy and crunchy, a perfect tomato sauce made in-house and wonderful mozzarella on top. We visit weekly, take friends, parents, and just anyone else we can drag along. It’s casual and right up my alley. And in an effort to break my MPOP Rule (that’s Margherita Pizza Only, Please), I decided to try a few new little appetizers on the menu, one which included this baked acorn squash.

One half of an acorn squash is baked in a small cast iron skillet and then topped with honey, ricotta, and nutmeg. It’s marvelous in its sweet simplicity. I mean, it’s damn near perfect. So perfect that I had to steal it and make it at home while we’re in the middle of winter and hard squash season.  We made one with ricotta, and another with burrata. We both fell in love with the burrata version but you really can’t go wrong with either. This makes a wonderful side dish, I’d pair it with something smokey or salty as it’s definitely on the sweet side.

 

Roasted Acorn Squash with Ricotta (or Burrata!) and Honey adapted from Michael’s Pizzeria

2 acorn squash,  seeds removed and cut into quarters (leave the skin on!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

10 oz fresh ricotta or 8 oz burrata.
2-4 tablespoons honey
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400˚ F.

2. Cut squash in half, remove seeds, cut each piece in ½  for a total of 8 wedges.

3. Place squash on baking sheet and coat with olive oil salt and pepper.

4. Roast in oven for 45-50 minutes until soft and toasty.

5. Let cool slightly, spoon on a dollop of ricotta or chunk of buratta, drizzle with honey and grate fresh nutmeg on top. Serve immediately.

Michael’s Pizzeria is located at 5616 East 2nd Street in Long Beach, California, 90803. Their website is here.

 

Matt Armendariz is a writer and photographer who lives in Los Angeles and chronicles his passion for food and travel on his blog MattBites. His latest book is "On a Stick!"    

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