Restaurant review: Michael’s Pasta in the Pan in Wilbraham

Sep 22 2016

The menu at Michael’s features pasta dishes inspired by both Italian and contemporary American ideas about food.

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Presenting meals “in the pan” is certainly a clever gimmick; it’s a service strategy that Michael’s Pasta in the Pan, an eatery on Boston Road in Wilbraham, has successfully employed for a number of years.

The menu at Michael’s features pasta dishes inspired by both Italian and contemporary American ideas about food.

The Old World influence is visible in dishes such as Baked Ziti ($14.95), Pan-fried Chicken Parmigiana ($18.95), Steak Tips Marsala ($19.95), and Seafood Fra Diavolo ($26.95).

A more contemporary perspective manifests itself in the likes of Spicy Chicken Mississippi ($18.95), with its jalapeno cream sauce, and Teriyaki Alfredo ($18.95), a dish in which the lushness of Alfredo joins forces with the savory sweetness of teriyaki.

Starter options at Michael’s include Fried Mozzarella Sticks ($6.95), Artichoke Franchaise ($10.95), and Zuppa de Clams ($10.95)

We began our dinner with an order of Michael’s Spicy Golden Fried Calamari ($13.95), one of the restaurant’s signature specialties.

Presented in the hallmark commercial saute pan, the calamari were a tropical-themed twist on the “Point Judith” style that’s become popular over the last few years.

The squid was lightly battered and pan-fried to crispy golden brown, and the portion was certainly generous. Garnished with bits of red bell pepper and minced parsley, the calamari was glazed with a sauce in which orange marmalade seemed to be playing a big part. Bits of jalapeno pepper delivered the requisite heat, but the overall profile of the dish was, in our opinion, a little too sweet to be an entirely successful starter.

Blackened Sea Scallop Teriyaki Alfredo ($22.95), another house specialty, represented a tasty convergence of flavors.

Al dente penne had been simmered in a cream sauce into which a splash or two of teriyaki had been introduced. A sprinkle of crushed red pepper added heat, while chopped fresh spinach contributed color and freshness.

A half dozen Cajun-spice-dredged, pan-blackened sea scallops topped off the pasta.

Our second entree selection, Michael’s Mac & Cheese ($17.95), turned out to be considerably different than we’d anticipated. Instead of the gloriously gooey experience we associate with mac ‘n’ cheese, we got rigatoni pasta dolled up with onion, diced fresh tomato, and thin-sliced prosciutto, all of which had been tossed together in a thin cheese sauce.

Topped with breadcrumbs and briefly broiled, the pasta wasn’t flawed, it’s fair to note. It just wasn’t we’d hoped for.

One aspect of the “served-in-the-pan” idea deserves special mention; food comes to the table piping hot. Those who wish, however, can specify that their meal be served on a plate in traditional fashion.

Entree choices at Michael’s are accompanied by a salad, a serviceable blend of field greens enhanced with radicchio and escarole. Oven-fresh rolls with herbed oil and butter are also included.

Michael’s Pasta in the Pan has a full bar setup as well as a wine list of about two dozen reasonably priced labels.

For dessert, the restaurant maintains a tray of fancy pastries; choices typically include several tortes and cheesecake variations.

We enjoyed a Chocolate Dipped Cannoli ($3.95), appreciating its pleasantly creamy, chocolate-bit-enhanced filling.

The Chocolate-Hazelnut Cake ($6.95) was a more elaborate affair, with gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut cream) and pastry cream sandwiched between nut-flour sponge cake layers. Definitely a two-cup-of-coffee dessert experience, we decided.

Michael’s Pasta in the Pan also offers pizza, both in create-your-own and specialty formats.

Choosing the latter, we settled on a “Goodfellas” ($14.95), a red-sauced pie topped with sausage, pepperoni, hamburger, and prosciutto. Great crust, great pizza, we agreed, but the prosciutto garnish was a little too assertive; we’d leave it out if ordering the pie again.

Michael’s Wilbraham location is a handsome space, with a casual ambiance that’s nonetheless swanky enough for a special evening out. Though the outdoor dining season is almost over, the restaurant does offer attractive terrace seating.

Michael’s Pasta in the Pan operates a second restaurant serving a similar menu on River Road in Agawam.

Name: Michael’s Pasta in the Pan
Address: 2133 Boston Road, North Wilbraham
Telephone: (413) 271-1084
Hours: Dinner served Monday through Thursday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Lunch served Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; closed Sunday
Entree prices: $14.95 – $26.95
Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa
Handicapped access: Accessible, rest rooms equipped for wheelchairs
Reservations: Accepted



Jul 2024