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Il Mulino questions

I am taking my family to Il Mulino for my sister's 21st birthday bash in 3 weeks and wanted to ask some questions.

I know many people on here have said that it is overpriced, overrated, and what have you but it gets great reviews for the most part and I have always wanted to try it. Before you start saying "Why did you choose this?" and "There are so many better Italian restaurants in the city" listen up. We have been to Babbo (LOVED it) and Del Posto (underwhelmed and overpriced).
My family loves Italian food and many have labeled Il Mulino as the best traditional "Southern Italian" in New York for the past few decades. I pretty much know what to expect from the food- it will be straightforward Italian, nothing too exotic or foodie like but that is what my sister and mother like and this is my sister's big day so I figured this would be a fitting venue to celebrate for her. If they were bigger foodies and looking for more exotic dishes I would consider taking them to Marea or Alto or Convivio or Scarpetta.. you get the point. Bottom line is while I am sure they would definitely be able to find something at any of those places and have a great meal, Il Mulino would be a more satisfying and welcoming selection for them. Plus let's not just label Il Mulino some slouch. It has to be doing something right after all.

Still I expect the food to be great. Just because it is simple, straightforward, etc. it can and should be great for the prices they charge ( I am told it can be VERY expensive but that does not really bother me if it is worth it.) I also know we will not be leaving hungry with all the free bies and large portion sizes.

So now onto the menu. What are the standouts? What are must orders?

There will be 5 of us so what would be the proper amount of food to order (apps, entrees, desserts??) taking into account the bread and freebies.

Is dessert worth the stomach space or price? I see they offer mostly run of the mill Italian desserts like cheese cake, tartufo, cannoli, tiramisu, berries. Anything here that should not be missed? Doesn't sound like anything too special. It IS here 21st so you GOTTA get dessert lol. My plan right now will be to skip dessert for something more worthwhile and maybe go somewhere close for great gelato (Grom or L'Arte).

Finally what is the dress code. I'm guessing no jeans allowed. Dress shirt and dress pants are more appropriate for gentleman?

Thanks hounds and of course I will be back with a full report as I always do.

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  1. I havent been in years but I do remember everything being very garlicy. I do remember the veal ossobuco being pretty damm good.

    1. Its been a long time but I recall the rack of lamb special I got being excellent. It was about $60 but was literally an entire rack.

      the warning against the pricing specifically relates to the specials. They are very expensive so just be warned before you go.

      1. As noted by ESNY, portions are generally HUGE, many enough for two.

        1. Dress code, jeans are fine.

          Dessert worth it? No,much like the rest of it but you know that. I did have a good ricotta cheesecake there many years ago but back then the place was very good, overall. Was still a bit expensive for what it was but there was quality.
          If your sister wants it, get her whatever she likes if you care to.
          Whatever requires the least amount of cooking skill and attention to detail would probably be the best choices for dishes. Just hope they watch the cooking times which is basically the only thing you have to do in some cases.
          Amount of food, well, I am assuming at least two ladies and would say that 5 apps and 5 mains will be too much. You can decide on dessert at the time, y, so don't fret about that too much.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dietndesire

            Thanks guys. Yes it will be three guys and 2 ladies. Good to know you can wear jeans. I did not want to feel out of place wearing nice jeans and a button down shirt.

            As for the menu items I have heard raves about the rack of lamb special, veal parmigiana (I think it is so cool that it is a veal chop, pounded, covering the entire plate and has the boone still attached!!!! see pic here http://www.ilmulino.com), osso buco, whole fish, porcini ravioli.

            My guess is we will probably order about three apps for the table to share...mostly pastas, and everyone will order there own main. As for dessert if I tell them it is her bday will they put a candle in it? I am sure they would.

          2. Never been to Il Mulino, but FYI L'Arte is tiny with only a couple of tables if you don't plan to take your gelato outside. Grom is bigger, but it's often crowded and it may be hard to grab a table for 5 right away.

            BTW I don't think you should ever have to elaborate so much about why you didn't pick a non-"foodie" place or non-Chowhound favorite... but I understand why you did.

            1 Reply
            1. re: uwsister

              Yeah I would not be opposed to take it outside especially if it is a nice night outside you know.

              I agree I should not have to defend the non foodie side of it but felt like I should so that people knew I didn't wanna hear that it is run of the mill red suace Italian.

            2. Il Mulino is the ONLY restaurant in the world (literally) jfood will NEVER set foot in again...20+ years after the a-hole owner acted like a complete and total pompous A. He can stick that big hunk a cheese where the sun don;t shine. And jfood forgives almost everything.

              5 Replies
              1. re: jfood

                What did they do that was that bad my man?

                1. re: steakrules85

                  two couples 7PM reservations. "your table is being set up"...another 4-top arrives, big hugs and kisses, table given to them. 2 hours of this apology, "you're next", then same old stuff. Spoke to MOD, total jerk. Would have left but started feeling pregnant with the place and did not know the area. then seated after 2 hours ~9PM and received lousy service. And that's the positives.

                  They suvived without jfood and vice versa.

                  1. re: jfood

                    Yipes...got the picture.

                    That would certainly do it for me too.
                    Thanks for sharing (and sorry for stirring up bad memories)

                    1. re: The Professor

                      NP. Many great meals in worthy places since. Life's too short.

                2. re: jfood

                  Wow. I'm curious as well about what they did to make you feel this way...I only ate there once (10+ years ago) but loved everything about the evening.
                  They must have done something heinous...

                3. great great place. enjoy. yes its expensive but its not like u r goin to eat at this rest every weekend. def worth it and the leftovers will taste so good.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: canemh

                    Thanks canemh. Glad to hear a positive review. Keep em coming guys. And I am still looking for some more recommendations on what are your favorite dishes and how most people dress when they go.

                    1. re: steakrules85

                      I have always had excellent service and never have been disappointed with the food...the grappa is on the house at the end, and is excellent, as well. If Claudio is your waiter, you are in good hands.

                      The best things are the specials but they are also the most costly. Red snapper prepared in a mushroom sauce (they add tomato if you ask) is excellent. The rack of lamb is usually very good and immense. Veal milanese is usually ok. The dover sole is simple but excellent (ask for that mushroom ragout on the side.) Appetizers--escargot are garlicky and excellent, if they have fresh gnocchi, get it with gorgonzola sauce (avoid the ravioli filled with truffles unless you love cream). Except for the tiramisu, deserts are so-so.This is not a southern Italian place, and avoid the items that seem linked to that area.

                      The problem with Il Mulino is the wine list--very much overpriced.

                      You are best off getting there early, like 6:30 pm or so, if you want to avoid the wait...I would not reserve for 8 pm...by then, it's a crush.

                      1. re: steakrules85

                        i think dress depends all on which day and what time of the day--i would say during the week its mostly suits goin there after work and on the weekend its more of a jeans button down crowd--i live right around the corner

                        1. re: canemh

                          Thanks we have reservations for 6pm on Saturday. Button down and jeans it is my friend thank you so much for the info pal.

                    2. I have not visited the NYC location but I did enjoy a stellar meal in ATL last week. The prices are without a doubt insanely high, but the result makes it worth it. Like you said, nothing fancy at all, but the flavors are authentic and great. Portions are outrageously huge!!! I ordered spaghetti carbonnara, it was spot on from what I enjoyed in Italy. I believe it was around $20 for a 1/2 portion. My mom had a classic spinach salad and she very much enjoyed it. Our dining partner has 1/2 portion of the paprdelle e ragu and it was amazing. Biggest portion on the table, same price as the other pasta. For our mains my mom had the veal, and I had a chicken with a lemon sauce. My chicken was somewhat bland and boring, but It was good and enjoyed it. However the $37 price tag was a little much. My mothers veal was outstanding.

                      Overall the food is exactly what you'd get in Italy. It's upscale Italian in every way. It is way too high in price, but you will leave with a huge bag of leftovers! We received 4-5 antipasti before we even ordered. I'm not sure about their wine selection but they were pouring CAVIT and DELICATO. I was so offended by this that I ordered a martini....I was really offput by horrible $5 wines to go with a $50 entree....

                      Enjoy it, a great place for a special occasion!

                      1 Reply
                      1. Just wanted to tell you all we went last night and had a superb time. I will be posting the review shortly.