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Jun 1, 2009 07:23 AM

should I keep my Il Mulino reservation?

Read mixed reviews...want it to be special....should I keep it or change it? I know of others but really want red sauce italian place.

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  1. I m a huge fan of the New York Mulino s. I have only been to the one in DC twice. The first time was for a soft opening and only a portain of the menu was available. The second time the full menu was available, but it was not as good as New York.
    The DC Mulinos has too many options on the menu in my opinion. The menu in New York is somewhat limited, but they will make you whatever you want anytime.
    Mulinos would not be my first choice for italian in DC.

    1 Reply
    1. re: baldwinwood

      How about La Perla in DC...similar menu

    2. If your group is 4 enormous starving men that want to stuff themselves to oblivion and spend a fortune doing it while not being treated very well if they are not regulars, well, then, it is the perfect setting.

      Seriously, how does this place keep its doors open?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pappy

        Amen. Overpriced, and portions out of control.

      2. change it - not worth your money. tosca, siroc good options for italian

        10 Replies
        1. re: foreverfoodie79

          Agree with Tosca and Siroc but are they really "red sauce" Italian? I would go for Filomena's instead if that's the OP's objective.

          1. re: bordeauxfan

            Since I don't like Filomena, I suppose you can do better just about anywhere else. Again, you have yet another place with gummy pastas and heavy portions (though tourist-friendly prices) . I'd rather go to Notti Bianche for their terrific roast chicken and much lighter pastas. Despite chef changes, this remains a delicious intimate place, though main courses are better value than the starters.

            1. re: Steve

              Steve, I agree with you that Filomena has definitely seen better days. And the menu at Notti Bianche looks terrific. BUT -- when the OP states that s/he really wants a red-sauce Italian place, does the more Northern Italian-leaning NB fit the bill? There's a bolognese sauce (not traditionally heavily red) and an amatriciana (redder).

              So a rhetorical question -- is a Southern Italian restaurant just a lost cause in DC proper?

              1. re: bordeauxfan

                The Notti Bianche menu is supposed to be Roman, so I don't know how that qualifies in the Northern vs Southern thing.

                There are probably more successful places in the suburbs for a red sauce place. Some of them are very casual and some dressier. There is (or used to be) a place on a side street near AU that was a bit formal. It attracted an older suburban crowd; they were the only folks who knew it existed. The food may very well be what the OP is looking for, but I it's not the type of place I go to or would usually recommend on Chowhound. But there is nothing wrong with the food. I know, that hardly sounds like a ringing endorsement.

                1. re: Steve

                  The restaurant's name refers to a Roman tradition, but the menu sure isn't Roman. Every region of Italy cooks some version of a meat sauce, but if Notti Bianchi is going to call theirs Spaghetti Bolognese, that's referring to the Emilia-Romagna version. The restaurant is somewhat more authentically Roman by offering pasta amatriciana, but the use of gemelli instead of bucatini isn't traditional. Other dishes sound appealing and delicious, but they're modern recipes and not traditional Roman cuisine.

                  I've already mentioned the gemelli/buccatini swap. NB also subs spaghetti for the traditional tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce. If you've ever eaten in Italy or talked to a traditional Italian cook, using the wrong pasta is heresy. In traditional Italian cooking, there are RULES THAT MUST BE FOLLOWED. In fact, there's a book about to be published that describes 1400 different types of pasta and their uses. I'm not such a purist and I'm not bothered by these things. Good eating is good eating. However, when a restaurant makes explicit or implicit claims about its authenticity ("authentic Italian dishes," "classic Italian kitchen,") they should expect to be called out when they're wrong.

                  Just FYI... Traditional Roman cuisine features organ meat (e.g. coda alla vaccarina -- oxtail) and Jewish recipes (e.g. crispy artichokes) from the Jewish community that pre-dates the Roman community. If you ever get to Rome and would like to eat traditional Roman food, head straight to Checchino dal 1887 in the Testacchio section of the city.

                  1. re: Indy 67

          're like the wikipedia of Italian cuisine. Thanks!

                    1. re: Ericandblueboy

                      Thanks for the compliment. Eating in Rome makes "researching" the topic a pleasure.

                      My husband and I have been visiting Rome for more than two decades. Along the way, I've had some assumptions about Italian food turned upside down. My most surprising discovery is the rule for tomatoes in salads.

                      My husband and I ate lunch at what was billed as a very traditional trattoria many years ago. I ordered a mixed salad as part of the lunch. After having been served sublime, fantastic, flavorful tomatoes in restaurant after restaurant, I was offended to be served under-ripe tomatoes in my salad. I inwardly fumed that the restaurant had taken advantage of my obvious tourist status. Imagine my chagrin some weeks after coming home when I learned that the restaurant was following the rules of salad tomatoes and treating me like a real Roman.

                      The Italians believe that tomatoes that are fully ripe have too much liquid in the seed area and that this liquid dilutes the perfect vinaigrette the chef has worked so hard to achieve. Therefore, mixed salads are served with under-ripe tomatoes.

                      To tie my ruminations on Italian food back to the DC restaurant scene...

                      Having traveled and eaten in Italy so often, my husband and I find eating at Italian restaurants in the DC metro area somewhat difficult. We usually have to wait many, many months before our yen for Italian food wins out over our fear of overcooked pasta or over-elaborated preparations.

                      Dino's comes closest to a genre of restaurants that is growing particularly in Rome and Milan: the enoteca (wine bar) which offers extremely good food.

                      I definitely can't name a single red-sauce restaurant that qualifies as special, so I can't help the OP.

                      I can recommend Tosca among higher-end restaurants. (A moment of respectful silence for the long-absent, still-missed Maestro.) If you aren't a purist about the RULES OF ITALIAN COOKING, I think Tosca is very good. If they have any regional emphasis, it's the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna as seen in the many stuffed pastas. Still, they're most like modern restaurants in Italy in the the sense that Tosca includes items from different regions of Italy -- or even countries -- on the same menu and offers deconstructed versions of traditional preparations.

                      I want to love Obelisk more than I do. Unfortunately, I've had enough dishes fall short of expectations that I'll always choose Tosca over Obelisk. (I'll add that I'm of an age that I don't find Tosca stuffy, whereas younger patrons might prefer the more casual atmosphere of Obelisk.)

                    2. re: Indy 67

                      I'm sure your right. My favorite dish there, a roast chicken, is probably hard to find on any menu in Italy. Still, I like the place much better than Filomena. The food is light and refreshing and the ingredients tend to shine by themselves.

                      I just think the OP is running into a brick wall asking for a red sauce Italian place AND a special place in DC.

                      1. re: Steve

                        Decision Il Mulino until I'm very hungry and willing to settle. Corduroy red sauce for me.

                        1. re: namret

                          Hello folks- any recent feedback on this place? we are planning a dual birthday party, looking for n upscale WORTH THEMONEY place to have it- private room, maybe even chefs kitchen. my friend saw the menu for this place and asked me to check it out... recent thoughts? is it worth the money?

          2. This is a perfect place for red sauce Italian. Great food, a little over priced, but who isn't in this town.