A few months ago when I heard that Il Mulino was opening up in Atlanta, excitement washed over me. Admittedly, it’s a little lame that I can get so excited about food and restaurants, but what can I say, it something I’m used to. All my life, my parents have not been huge “splurgers” except in two areas – vacations and food, often those two being intertwined.
I can understand that some people just can’t personally justify a dinner that costs as much as a car payment, and I don’t mean that in a snobby way because I’m not exactly rolling in the dough. Going out to a premier restaurant is a significant expense to me, but it is an expense that I never regret if the meal is executed to my expectations.
I love being “wowed” with sublime dishes, I love the process of a lengthy meal, and I’m in awe when the level of service makes me feel like all the staff cares about is ensuring I have the best food experience ever. Above all, I love when all of these factors come together to create a lasting memory of a perfect night. The two times I dined at Il Mulino in Vegas, this was the case, and last night in downtown Atlanta is the latest addition to this short list.
Il Mulino is located in the 191 Peachtree Building downtown, connected to the Ritz Carlton hotel, with a seperate entrance on the front that goes directly into the restaurant. We pulled around front and took the valet service, worth the $7 considering how much of a hassle it can be to park downtown. When I went to open the door the other valet started running and I said, “don’t worry about it, I’ve got it”, to which he replied “no sir, it’s the Il Mulino way.” And so it begins.
The picture below shows a kind of cheesy display when you walk in, but everything else in this place was of considerable taste.
The restaurant had less than 20 tables in a beautiful space with dark hardwoods, chandeliers, a fantastic long classic wood bar, impressive art, and fine built-in wall wine racking. All the staff was impeccably dressed in tuxedos or white jackets. There was no shortage of these guys either, the restaurant was full of people running around at a frantic place, providing a constant barrage of service to every table.
It was almost a little distracting, but I think the service will appear more effortless as they learn how this restaurant operates. I have absolutely no complaints because I think it contributed to a more exciting atmosphere, along with the fact that the place was half filled with Florida fans here for the SEC championship game. The buffoon at the table next to us who insisted on quoting Braveheart at length in a boisterous tone was very entertaining. I didn’t mind though, it was fun and lively and completely full at 9PM with smiles abound at each table.
I am curious to see how the atmosphere changes with different clientele and experienced staff.
As soon as you sit down, the barrage begins. First you are given the crispy zucchini, which is awesome. Not too greasy, sliced extremely thin, fried, and slightly spicy…you have to be careful to eat too much. Then another runner comes with a tray of bruschetta which he spoons on top of the garlic bread (one of the four breads that is provided). He also offers you some chilled muscles, which were the largest I’ve seen since I hit the gym the other night (heeyyyyooooo!).
Not pictured is the large chunk of parmesan which they serve individually for each person at the table, cut tableside from the largest wedge of parm I’ve ever seen. It was creamy (yes, creamy!) and absolutely the best parmesan I’ve ever had.
Here comes my only complaint – the full 500 wine inventory had not arrived and they said it was coming the next day. They only had 15 wines offered that night. I was really looking forwarding to browsing their incredible list of Italian wines, but oh well, that’s yet another reason to go back.
We ended up going with the Pio Cesare 2007 Dolcetto. It was lively, very young, but pretty average. At least the price wasn’t too bad. On a positive note, I like how they poured it into the pitcher and our glasses of wine and Pellegrino never even came close to reaching the bottom as one of our 3 waiters was always on task.
Our appetizer was one of the dozen or so specials of the night – the buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto. It was unbelievable. While the tomatoes were only “good” (it is December) the mozzarella was stunning. The mozzarella I had at Allegro was my previous best ever, but the torch has been passed. When my fork or teeth punctured the firm exterior of the cool cheese, the interior exploded into a “mozzarella butter”, unlike anything I’ve ever eaten. All I can say was that it was absolutely incredible, and the prosciutto, basil, roasted red pepper, and sun dried tomato topped with olive oil and balsamic vinegar was a great accompaniment.
For my entree I had the veal Milanese. You can see the bone is still attached; they take a whole veal chop and pound it thin, perfectly fry it, and top it with an arugula/tomato salad. Katie called it “veal pizza”. It was perfect and way too much food.
Katie got the fettuccine alfredo with peas. It’s somewhat plain looking in this picture, but trust me, it was very good. The sauce was unlike any other alfredo sauce I’ve had – it was amazingly light and sweet, served with pasta that is the definition of al dente.
Next came the grappa with white raisins that is ladled tableside. This stuff is just like moonshine, but was somehow a great finish to the entrees. We saw numerous tables offering a toast with the grappa and having a great time.
After that I ordered an espresso with dessert. I thought it was very cool how they served it with rock candy.
The tiramisu dessert is served with zabaglione, Italian custard that was incredibly creamy, rich, and satisfying. The tiramisu was not the least bit soggy and definitely above average. It was too much for two stuffed people.
In the photo belwo, the meal is done and all that is left is the rose on our table. I really can’t say enough about how much fun I had and how great this meal was. Il Mulino is instantly the nicest Italian restaurant in town, and with arguably the best Italian food in town.
The wait staff were trying so hard, they were so attentive, and I don’t think there is a restaurant in town that offers this kind of experience, and hopefully it’s only gonna get better. For your next special occasion, or anytime you want to treat yourself, definitely give Il Mulino a try.