SoFi just got way more luxurious with Il Mulino, the popular Italian New York outpost, opening its doors today. You might be thinking "but there's an Il Mulino in Sunny Isles at Acqualina," and you're right. But not having to trek to indulge in an overabundance of Italian delights is so much better.
Besides, they are totally different vibes. While Sunny Isles screams old-school Italian, this new spot embraces its Art Deco persona flawlessly. Oversized portraits with Vogue covers add a pop of color to the white dining room that's floored by gray marble and lit up through colossal sphere lamps. Servers speak with an accent (even those that are not Italian) and managers are outfitted in paisley button up shirts to match with the clients. Liberace would have loved it here.
Short Order was invited to preview Il Mulino's offerings before opening day.
Have a drink at the bar while you wait for your table and nosh on the Parmesan-dusted potato crisps. Just don't have too many because the minute to sit at your table you're about to feel like VIP. Five servers flock to your table, all offering something different -- and you haven't even ordered yet. Relax, this is Il Mulino's way of saying thank you for coming, you're part of the family.
Complimentary antipasti comes in many forms -- a tray of freshly baked bread that allows you to take your pick; Parmesan garlic toast; Italian sausage; spiced fried zucchini; and bruschetta with mussels. This is just the beginning. There's also the Parmigianino-Reggiano that waiters take for a walk around the dining room, carving tableside to go along with the rest of your starters.
Server's keep up the entertainment through the remainder of the meal, encouraging you or shying you away from your options. Ivan from Serbia is really a bartender but for the sake of show they threw him out on the floor for last night's preview. Executive chef Michele Mazza runs the kitchen, making sure servers are relaying the daily Florida-centric specials to guests.
For something decadent, opt to start with the vongole casino clams ($18), which are baked on the half shell with casino butter and smoked bacon.
On the flip side, a carpaccio ($26) thinly slices tuscan style beef and tops it with arugula, olive oil and a light dijon mustard sauce. This was probably the lightest, most refreshing and my personal favorite dish of the evening. Say yes to the black pepper offering and squeeze that lemon on the plate. Oh, and remember that huge chunk of Parmesan-Reggiano? Now is the time to utilize it.
We did go for one of the daily specials -- ravioli di porcini with champagne truffle cream sauce. The great thing about the pasta offerings at Il Mulino, besides being made tableside on pasta carts, is that they offer half-size portions for everything, so you can have more of something else...or more pasta.
The ossobucco doesn't come cheap at $58, but it's a house favorite and Ivan's most highly recommended entree. Roasted in a red wine and porcini mushroom sauce and served alongside saffron risotto, it's Italian as can be.
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We opted for another half serving of pasta. This time in a straight line rather than squares. Capellini alla arrabbiata ($28.50) will please lovers of garlic and spice.
For dessert, Ivan insisted we try this fruit and berry concoction thats spiked with flambeed Grand Marnier. Il Mulino is all about presentation, also preparing this dessert for us tableside -- from carving the mandarins to the lighting and pouring of the Grand Marnier. From start to finish, a meal at Il Mulino is a sinful experience. That's OK, though -- It's South Beach.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha