Michaelangelo’s offers unique dining experience

By Carie Birkmeier EBS Staff

I’ve had few dining experiences where I thought about a meal for days after the fact, but Michaelangelo’s Ristorante Italiano did just that. Siblings Michael and Emily Annandono are doing Italian fare right in Big Sky’s Meadow Village, with Michael handling the chef duties and Emily managing the front of the house.

Walking through the modern entryway I was greeted by an impressive, floor-to-ceiling wine display. The high ceilings and striking stone and woodwork are complemented by a warm, roaring fire. Tables are nestled into private nooks, providing diners with a sense of privacy as they enjoy conversation with friends and family.

Carpaccio di Tonno con Rucola e Vincotto delivers masterful presentation – and the perfect way to start an evening – at Michaelangelo’s Ristorante Italiano in Big Sky.

Carpaccio di Tonno con Rucola e Vincotto delivers masterful presentation – and the perfect way to start an evening – at Michaelangelo’s Ristorante Italiano in Big Sky.

After being seated by the fire, I enjoyed a house cocktail called El Piace – a mild limoncello-infused martini with a slight herbal note, made with Bozeman Spirits Huckleberry vodka. Then I was presented with a variety of warm breads, accompanied by olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you’ve never ordered a chef’s choice in a restaurant, I highly recommend it. Though there were several menu items that were appealing, I knew that Chef Annondono wouldn’t steer me wrong.

Razor thin, expertly sliced ahi tuna – flown in fresh from Hawaii – adorned the plate of my first course, Carpaccio di Tonno con Rucola e Vincotto. Briny capers provided a bright saltiness that complemented the rich, fatty tuna. The plate was topped with an arugula salad, which gave the dish a bitter and fresh component. A balsamic reduction and lemon argumato completed the offering, and added a delicate sweetness that rounded out the flavors perfectly. The goal of an appetizer is to stimulate the palate, and this plate certainly delivered.

My second course was equally well rounded, with deep flavors that attest to Chef Annondono’s skill and experience. Ravioli di Bufala con Funghi brought a piece of Montana to the plate, maintaining northern Italian flavors while incorporating locally sourced bison and wild Montana mushrooms. The deep, earthy, slightly acidic sauce that accompanied this dish was one of the highlights of the experience.

In one of those “I’m so full, but it’s so good” moments, I approached my third course, Saltimbocca alla Romana con Torta di Risotto. My server expertly paired my entree with a glass of Gavi di Gavi, La Caplana from the Italian Piedmont. The mineral notes and crisp acidity were the perfect match for this dish, a contrasting choice to cut the lush quality of the veal. This hearty dish would be the ideal way to round out a long, cold day on the mountain.

Michaelangelo’s most popular dish, the Ravioli di Bufala con Funghi.

Michaelangelo’s most popular dish, the Ravioli di Bufala con Funghi.

Michaelangelo’s menu is heavily influenced by Northern Italian cuisine, but traces of Montana make an appearance. Each course brought a surprise to the table, presenting authentic Italian flavors rather than the American-Italian style of cooking most of us have become accustomed to. If you crave spaghetti and meatballs, you’re going to have to look elsewhere.

The service was effortless, attentive without hovering. My server was extremely well informed and answered my questions with an obvious knowledge and understanding of the menu. The entire staff worked flawlessly to ensure a superior guest experience.

Michaelangelo’s is sure to become a staple for locals and tourists alike, with its complex yet approachable menu including a variety of price points. Whether you’re a vegetarian, gluten-free, or a full-blown carnivore, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

And if you don’t try the Ravioli di Bufala con Funghi, you are seriously missing out.

Carie Birkmeier graduated from Michigan’s Les Cheneaux Culinary School and worked as a chef at Big Sky’s Rainbow Ranch.