After winning over New York's culinary crowd and earning a poetic epithet in ZAGAT (the restaurant was praised for being "gutsy and garlicky"), Il Mulino moved west to sauce the streets of Chicago.
Il Mulino set up its linen-covered tables in the historic Biggs Mansion. The 125-year-old building sets the dining stage with elegant details that seem plucked out of a Charlotte Bronte novel: Floor-to-ceiling bay windows gaze upon the Gold Coast, crystal chandeliers dangle from 15-foot ceilings, Italian marble fireplaces flicker in each of the dining rooms and a mahogany, winding staircase leads to the second-story space. Here's a bit of dinner-conversation trivia: The mansion was designed by Burling, the same architect behind the majestic St. James Cathedral on Wabash and Huron.
Expect a menu that focuses on the season's freshest veggies, fish and game. There are no pret-a-manger plates here; the chefs take pride in made-to-order creations. Entrees, priced $25 and up, include old favorites like fettuccini alfredo and spaghetti carbonera. Menu standouts include osso bucco, carved-right-at-your-table Dover sole and homemade pecorino and ricotta; pair with one of its excellent Tuscan wines.
Kids younger than 12-years-old get half-price dinners on Sunday, with a complimentary non-alcoholic Bellini to boot.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg