There used to be a local restaurant up in New York, near where I live, that brought a roasted or baked garlic bulb to the table, to eat with the bread. It was the only reason I went there. The rest of the experience was just average.
Il Mulino's version of Garlic Bread is not bread with a little bit of garlic butter and salt on it, as it is usually found in restaurants. The garlic was on the side, in a large dish, a massive amount of garlic to slather over the bread. The term "garlic bread" now has a new meaning for me. We asked for half garlic and half plain bread (I think the nursing mother with us didn't want to consume a lot of garlic), and maybe the server was supposed to dish out the garlic over the bread, but we got ours on the side, and I had a very good time apportioning mine on my bread. A most garlicky experience.
After garlic, there was food. Soup was good, salads looked adequate, and my fish (grouper) was good. (My wife didn't care for hers, everybody else cleaned their plates). One vegetarian member of the party had the eggplant parm; she was very happy. Everything is served with sides of spaghetti. I never touch the stuff, and I asked, reluctantly, for vegetables instead. I was reluctant only because you never know what you are going to get when you start asking for vegetable sides. The results aren't always pleasant.
But in this case, I got a beautiful plate of fish with perfectly cooked broccoli, with a little bit of butter or something on it making it quite tasty. There was plenty of it to fill up on. My only starch indulgence for the meal was the piece of bread with all the garlic!
Desert. Somehow it was decided to order a single cannoli for desert and 4 forks. On the menu it says "cannolo" and when I inquired if that was the same thing as a cannoli, I was told it was the proper Italian word for a singular (one) cannoli. Well I didn't count on more than a mouthful after that from our singular cannolo, but it was quite large, and very tasty, more cheesy and less sweet than I remember from my childhood.
Service. We walked in on Saturday night without a reservation and were seated in less than 30 minutes, probably closer to 20. The decor is very plain and uninteresting. The place was really noisy. The food came in a reasonable period of time, and I had no complaints. Our server Penelope had just a little bit of attitude and personality, not too much, and seemed like a veteran of the Saturday night dining wars. On Saturday night, at least, this is not the place to go to have an intimate detailed conversation with your friends, unless you are very young and your hearing is very good.
I do think the place carries a patronage of both tourists and locals. Like most restaurants, your experience will be better on any night but Saturday. Meal was about $100 for 4 people before the tip, with only soft drinks, no alcohol.
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