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Il Mulino - worth a visit?

I've been curious about this place ever since I arrived in NY 20 years ago and lived nearby. There was always lots of limos outside and I never had the money to go. Now I do. Should I? And if i do, what do they do best? (It's not just a red sauce place, is it?).

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  1. I've never found it lived up to the hype. The service was brusque for me, they pushed the VERY expensive anti-pasta platter, and the food was fine, not great.

    1. It's not a "red sauce" place but you don't have to be from Rome to understand the menu. I like the pastas but they'll come at you with more specials than regular menu items, so pay attention.

      You know, sometimes you just have to satisfy a curiosity. You can tell me if I'm wrong, but if you've thought about it more than a half dozen times in 20 years, then yes, you have to go. It's a restaurant that's been on top for 30 years while many have come and gone. I think the possibility of a fantastic meal shows its worthiness.

      1. If you go, you should go for lunch (same exact food not as cramped). It is not purely a red sauce place but it is not as interesting a menu as say babbo (or as good for that matter).

        1. i've never been there but i love their sister restaurant Il Giglio in Tribeca (where the antipasti is free) and the atmosphere quiet and elegant.

          If you do a search here, an Il Mulino fan wrote a great, very funny and lengthy post where he described eating there an athletic event and made dozens of recommendations on how to get the best out of the Il Mulino experience.

          1. I'm going to disagree with most other people here and say: Yes you absolutely must go, it is better than Babbo for my money (gasp!) and much closer to how I expect a traditional high-end italian meal to be prepared.

            Is it expensive? absolutey (almost prohibitively so). And do they push you to order the more expensive specials? Absolutely. Are these specials far and away better than the menu items - absolutely.

            My view is if you've decided to go, you've already made the commitment to spend a lot of money, so just relax and order whatever strikes you... everything the waitstaff "suggests" is tremendous.

            Go with an open wallet and an empty stomach, and don't turn away anything that you'd like to try. I've been three times and was completely blown away each time.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Spends Rent on Food

              You are incorrect. Their best dish is actually their veal parm. And as much as I like the place, Babbo is better.

              1. re: tpigeon

                I have just informed my tastebuds that they are incorrect.

                Thanks for the heads up.

                1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                  Very funny! Actually my tastebuds agree with your tastebuds to an extent--I also have never been disappointed with a recommended special there (well, my stomach, not my wallet $$$$$), but as much as I love the food there, I love Babbo more. Anyway, a great part of the meal is the pre-dinner "lagniappes" of outrageous garlicky marinated zucchini, cheese so sharp it puckers the mouth, and salami.

                  1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                    I was actually referring to the veal parm on the incorrect part, not babbo btw.

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      No worries, all taken in good fun...

              2. that great Il Mulino post i mentioned was pasted into this thread:

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/223729

                it makes me want to go there...

                1. My wife and I used to hold Il Mulino as our ultimate destination, but after going on and off for 10 years, I don't think it's as good as it was. For one thing, it's now franchised. There are Il Mulino's in Vegas, Westchester, and other places, and I don't think you can keep the quality up when you're running an empire rather than a restaurant. Also, the last time I was there, I thought they took advantage of my kids by asking them if they wanted sparkling water (which they then billed us for $30 or something). I'd say Il Mulino's time has passed.

                  1. I like Il Mulino. BUT they try to upsell you on specials big time. Be aware - ALWAYS ask the price of a dish if it isn't on the main menu. About 7 years ago we ordered the "special" pasta appetizer with truffles, we didn't ask the price, we got the bill, it was $65.00 for the one appetizer! I like the veal chop milanese it's butterflied and huge. Also the zucchini appetizer that they give you free at the start and parm cheese is addictive. Dinner time is a zoo, even with reservations, but you may not be seated for quite a long time. Lunch time is empty, and the service and food are both good.

                    1. A concept perhaps past its prime.Goal #1 "cookie cutter",not bad,just VERY,VERY
                      predictable.This is a priority for all locations of the store.Much is classic and stuck in
                      time.The party line is" all of our chefs do exactly the same recipe",DC,Vegas,etc.It is
                      true,they do.I won't say it isn't good,or at the very least a classic destination.However
                      all of the service and price point remarks so far are spot on.You will have a stellar meal,
                      just not an inovative one. ENJOY

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lcool

                        Aside from the price trickery, the points you mention make it more reason to go. There are not many old school NY restaurants left these days. That's why I list El Quijote as one of my favorite NY restaurants, the food is good, yes I could get better more upscale elsewhere, but you can't find the "ambience" and old time service at 95% of NYC restaurants these days. It's a throwback to a forgotten era, and I love it.