We had plans to meet Ilana, Miryam, and her boyfriend for dinner tonight after Shabbat. Ilana told Josh and I to meet them at Café Michael Angelo, a Kosher Italian restaurant that has Israeli and Arabic music and dancing every Saturday evening. What a fun and interesting sounding place AND, another Kosher restaurant for my blog! Neither Josh nor I had ever heard of Café Michael Angelo before, but they are the ones that live here, so they know better than us! Actually, it was funny because before they had chosen a place, Ilana asked me if we had any recommendations for where to meet. “I know that we are the ones that live here,” she said, “but you and Josh have gone to more Kosher restaurants since you’ve been here than I ever have!”
We arrived at the restaurant and looked at the menu outside- it looked quite good! When we turned to walk inside, we did not see signs for Kashrut anywhere. There were a few men wearing kippot inside, but many were not. The singer for the evening was wearing a large Jewish Star necklace. How bizarre. The restaurant looked like a typical Italian Bistro, with red and white-checkered tablecloths. The tables were all pushed together, making it impossible for people to get up from their seats without disturbing the table next to them.
When the group arrived, we asked them if this restaurant is really Kosher. The answer in short: it was Kosher according to some standards. The restaurant is owned by a Jew, and there is no meat on the menu. All of the ingredients are Kosher, but this would not be included in the list of Kosher restaurants on shamash.org. The menus that we got were entirely different from the menu that we looked at outside. Since there is musical entertainment on Saturday night, there is a fixed menu that every customer needs to order from. Each customer must order both an entrée and a main dish for 35 euro, a main dish and a dessert for 35 euro, or a glass of wine, a main dish, and a dessert for 39 euro. The irony here is that Ilana wanted to eat someone inexpensive tonight, and our dinner tonight was as expensive as one of the most upscale Kosher restaurants that we had been to in Paris.
Josh and I shared eggplant parmesean and bruschetta for our entrees. I liked the eggplant, but Josh did not like the tomato sauce. The bruschetta tasted good, but the bread was too toasted and hard in my opinion. For our mains, we had Tuna steak and Branzino. Both dishes came with a side of French fries, sautéed mushrooms, and an array of cooked vegetables. The Fish was very well prepared, especially the branzino (a European sea bass). The mushrooms were delicious, but the fries were a big disappointment- thin and dry. That goes to show that you aren’t supposed to order French fries at an Italian restaurant. The rest of the group ordered pasta with a mushroom cream sauce as their mains, and tiramisu for dessert. The pasta looked delicious, and I noticed that many other customers were ordering the dish. The tiramissu was large, but it had WAY too much cream. It was like a huge bowl of wipped cream with some powdered coco on top and a VERY thin layer of ladyfingers beneath the pool of cream.
I would definitely conclude that you come to this restaurant for the exciting ambiance and entertainment and not so much for the food. The service was also bizarre, as the waitress barely paid attention to us and did not bring out our dishes at the same time. The five of us had a nice time together and it was nice to be out with a small group of people our age. Myriam’s boyfriend only speaks French and Hebrew, Ilana speaks English and French, and Myriam speaks all three languages. There were a lot of different languages back and forth across the table. This posed some communication challenges, especially amidst the loud music and rowdy atmosphere. In the beginning of dinner, the music was light and slow, but later on in the evening, the music turned LOUD. The music transitioned into upbeat Israeli music that we recognized and Josh and I couldn’t resist dancing in our seats.
Afterwards, another performer sang popular Arabic music. He stood on top of one of the tables and danced with emphasis on shaking his bonbon profusely, and almost the entire restaurant packed into the center of the restaurant and started dancing. We got up from our table and joined the crowd of dancers. Ilana and Myriam were trying to show me Arabic dance moves. There were some really funny looking dancers, especially this old women who was dancing by herself in the most typical old person’s outfit you have ever seen. There was another older yet attractive woman dancing alone for a long time and shaking her “stuff”- Josh called her plastic surgery lady. The waiters struggled to get past the fire hazard of people with their hot plates; however, they seemed used to the craziness. I learned tonight that the Arabic word Habibi that I have heard in Arabic songs is an endearing word that means sweety or honey. I told Josh I am going to start calling him Habibi! This restaurant definitely provided us with a unique dining experience. You can use your own judgment as to whether or not this is Kosher enough for you. Unless you are itching to dance to Middle Eastern music and watch a man with an open shirt.