Trattoria Il Mulino is the famed and fancy Il Mulino’s new casual Italian eatery in the Gramercy area. The light fixtures, clean design and decor seem to fit right in with the ABC Home/ ABC Kitchen theme. Make sure you ask to sit in the back where you can really feel the vibe of the dining room and admire the black and white murals. It has a graffiti accent but is more tasteful than street art and illuminates the room. The waiters are so friendly and helpful here. You can tell they genuinely want you to have a good time and they make you feel like it’s your favorite hometown Italian restaurant that you regularly visited as a kid instead of a new city hotspot. Like those traditional and nicer Italian restaurants, look out for the big square bread basket floating around the room where you can pick out which type of carbs you want to start attacking. The square mozzarella and focaccia bread is doughy yet flaky. Grab a few of these for the ride. Salami and antipasti eggplant also hit the table before you order. I love the way this menu is organized and if there’s any specific Italian dish you are craving, they have it. From burrata with watermelon, meatballs, to a whole list of salumi and formaggi, pizzas, pastas, risotto, parms grilled fish, etc. they’ve pretty much got you covered.
The best thing I ate was the Seafood Salad. The monstrous sized clams are the biggest and most tender I’ve ever had. There is a very fair amount of shrimp, calamari, mussels and scallops mixed with the frisee and lemon. It’s a great, light and refreshing appetizer before the invasion of the red sauce. We got both the Veal Parm and the Chicken Parm. The two are delicately plated and overflowing with cheese. I love that it’s not coated too heavily in bread crumbs, but I think they need a little more red sauce to balance out the cheese ratio. Also, I am more of a fan of a thicker cut meat in this type of dish like at Parm or Carbone. The veal and chicken are very thin and pounded down. However, this is also a positive thing because you don’t feel overly stuffed and therefore can eat other dishes. It’s a lighter take on the parm dish, and this is the great thing about it because you still feel like you haven’t slaughtered your figure with these. The Braised Kale side dish is also unique because these days you mostly see kale served in a cold salad, but we forget it is so tasty cooked and warm as well. The Grill Di Mare section is always a plus, too. I love restaurants like CATCH and Atlantic Grill that have this because sometimes you just want a piece of fish grilled perfectly without any heavy or creamy sauces tainting it. Here, you can choose over 7 different ways to dress it. They are all in Italian, so you’ll have to ask.
Overall, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and dining experience at Trattoria Il Mulino. It is definitely a neighborhood staple and a spot you can count on whether it’s for a business meeting, parents, date, go-to place for those around the corner, etc. In addition, they just started a fun jazz brunch with frittatas, uovoa ricotta and even a crazy round of 3 wake up shots – sounds like a plan!