Friday, March 18, 2011

First bites at Trattoria Il Mulino

Yum.I love really good Italian food. And we have some new and quite lovely Italian cuisine being served at the new Trattoria Il Mulino, from the restauranteurs of the famed Il Mulino NY. Though technically inside the new Westin Hotel across from Memorial City Mall, the entrance to the restaurant faces Gessner and the valet is right there so you don't have to actually go into the hotel(though the hotel itself looks to be fabulous including a cute lounge). It's a chic entrance.The space itself is clean, modern and not the least bit stuffy. It's a casual, lively setting and very open (though there are private wine rooms available) and there's a cute bar area.
I'm told the menu features some of the most popular dishes from the NYC location while also incorporating the local bounty of Texas products. Executive Chef Michele Mazza embraces the Abruzzi tradition of “la panarda,” a decadent feast sometimes lasting up to 24 hours in the old country. Featuring such staples as olive oil, tomatoes, lamb, hot peppers and a variety of cured meats, beautiful cheeses and perfectly prepared pastas, I can certainly see the allure of this style of cuisine and I enjoyed everything I've tasted thus far.
Highlights included the Sardinian Jumbo Prawns sauteed in a white wine/garlic sauce served with sauteed fresh spinach. The prawns were seriously huge and seemed lightly fried vs. sauteed but still very light, tender and nicely complimented with the spinach and not over-sauced at all. We also enjoyed some chunks of beautiful aged parmigano cheese as an appetizer. For mains, the gnocci were very light and fluffy topped with a fresh-tasting, light bolognese sauce and the meatballs were especially tender and delicious (and large!) topped with fresh tomato sauce. The Italian Peas were a true stand-out - sauteed peas with pancetta and sweet onions. Desserts were refreshingly not-too-sweet including a delightful Tiramisu with plenty of marscapone. I like this place; only a ten minute drive from the Heights. Can't wait to return.

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