It was a delightful spring evening in late May and the weather had eventually become more temperate when Anouska, my wonderful friend and photographer, and I visited Bottega di Michele. Located on Calle Fabrica, Santa Catalina’s favourite tree lined pedestrian street, it has a beautiful, elegant terrace that invites you in with white table cloths adorned with flowers and rustic crates for artisan olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It is the perfect spot for sitting and watching the world go by. The street and restaurants are bustling with activity. Families coming out to eat, tourists soaking up the Mediterranean atmosphere and couples strolling hand in hand, off for a romantic meal. Fabrica has only been pedestrianised for a few years but it has breathed real life into this part of Santa Catalina and long may the terraces continue.
Bottega di Michele is run by the delightful Michele Caporale and his wife Marcela. Michele is the third generation of his family to be part of this restaurant odyssey. It started 100 years ago in Pescara, a port on the Adriatic Sea near Rome, by his grandfather Don Donato Simone. It began as more of a pensione for local fishermen, dishing up traditional fish dishes from fresh catches. Slowly, the restaurant became more professional and multi-lingual with French, English, German and Italian being spoken, and it began to attract visitors from far and wide. Michele’s mother Antonieta Simone then continued the tradition with Michele himself working in the kitchen with his family, learning the secrets and creating his own dishes.
He eventually moved the family business to its present location in Santa Catalina in Mallorca and continued the fine work of his family before him. The wonderful thing is, it won’t stop there, as Michele and Marcela’s children also work in the restaurant on busy days or run the other gastronomic ventures that this talented family have in the area. Bianco e Rosso with its distinctive red and white wallpaper is well known for its fabulously Italian, thin based, traditional wood oven pizzas and DeGusto, a couple of doors further down the street, is a tapas restaurant and deli serving up the best Italian produce. It’s a real family affair along Fabrica.
The evening we were there we started with a lovely entre of Italian-style antipasto, salami, prosciutto and Mozzarella. The bread was fresh with a crunchy crust and the prosciutto was full of flavour. We just had to be careful not to fill up too much before our starters arrived. My starter was a plate of Garlic Prawns, and six juicy tail-on prawns arrived beautifully presented on a bed of rocket and cherry tomatoes, sprinkled with a healthy dose of chilli. They were big and tasty, and it took a lot for me to share them, though it would be a good starter for two people at lunchtime. Anouska started with a decadently delicious Foie gras salad with forest fruit jam, raisins and pine nuts. The foie gras was creamy and the pine nuts and jam perfectly complimented it. Once again, the portion size was more than generous.
For the main I couldn’t resist the Pappardelle with Venison Bolognese sauce, wild mushrooms and parmesan which I had had here on several previous occasions. As ever I was not disappointed as the thick strands of al dente pappardelle carried the heavy venison and mushroom sauce delightfully. The giant basil leaf and rich sprinkles of parmesan added to the full flavour of this heartiest and homeliest of dishes. Anouska went for a lighter, yet equally tasty option, with the Fresh fish of the day with asparagus, rocket and soy sauce. It wasn’t quite as light as we had anticipated as it came with a fabulously good helping of roasted potatoes, cherry tomatoes and asparagus. The sea bass was delicious, and the accompaniments were perfectly suited to it.
By this stage we were absolutely full to bursting so took some time to sit down and talk to Michele and Marcela, whilst we attempted to make room for dessert. They are such a wonderful couple, passionate about family, food and happiness. Marcela talks lovingly about Marcelo as being an artist. No two dishes are the same as he is always experimenting with new flavours and combinations. Michele is clearly proud of his ancestry, his own achievements and those that his children are in the process of making. Marcela says that even when Michele is on holiday his passion is food. He loves discovering new dishes and flavours as he once did in the kitchen of his grandmother. He has a constant glint in his eye and smile on his lips. They are full of fun and Italian enthusiasm.
Eventually we could resist the dessert menu no more, but we smartly opted for the sensible option of sharing. By that point we had been invited back the following day for a special lunch of one of Michele’s favourite dishes, which was to be a surprise. The Pannacotta, a creamy Italian flan with vanilla and wild berries was light and breezy with a tart jus and berry topping, offset with fresh mint leaves. All of this was rounded off by some traditional homemade limoncello, just as grandma would have made.
The following day we returned at lunchtime to find an excitable Michele ready to spoil us with his speciality. It was another beautiful day and there was a real feeling of summer being around the corner, which we all felt had been a long time coming. There was optimism in the air and a lobster spaghetti due to arrive at our table. Because of this we politely declined starters as both of us were too excited by the main event. And by god what an event it was. Words really can’t do justice to the theatricality of the dish, from the way it was first presented, then dished up by Michele himself, to the flavours. Oh, the flavours! It was simply divine. I love lobster. I love spaghetti. What I love even more than these two things, is the combination of them. All I would say is go along and try it, you will never be disappointed.
Bottega di Michele is an absolute joy to dine in. The team of staff are attentive and friendly. Our every need and those of our fellow diners were never a problem. During the summer months the terrace is wonderful and warm and in winter there are heaters and blankets. Inside is equally homely and will be a respite from the hot summer sun in the coming months. We left both times with our stomachs sated, our hearts full and our smiles big!
Carrer de la Fàbrica, 17,
Tel : 971 454 892
By Victoria Pearce
Photos Credit: Anouska Foss