Miami Spice month-and-a-half is an excellent opportunity to try new restaurants, or old favorites, with a pre-set three-course menu for $39 per person. My parents seized the opportunity to take us to Il Mulino for our anniversary. When we lived in New York, we were one block from the original Il Mulino, yet never went because it was outrageously expensive. As it turns out, the Miami outposts are also crazy expensive. I had tried the porcini ravioli at the Iron Fork event, and that bite was pretty persuasive.
I’ll start with the positives, and there were many. We arrived, were seated and were promptly brought over a series of bites: choice of bread, Parmigiano cheese carved from a giant wedge, garlicky and delicious bruschetta, fried zucchini (a little overly greasy) and salami. Although plentiful and delicious, it hardly made up for the sticker shock of the wine list. Oh wait, positives… back to the wine list later.
We each ordered the Miami Spice menu. I started with capellini arrabbiata, which was outstanding. I expected nothing less after the fantastic pasta dish I had just weeks earlier. Others at the table enjoyed the burrata and beet salad, as well as the mussels in red sauce. All were tasty, and generous portions. The porcini ravioli were on the spice menu, but as a main course and I could not bring myself to have pasta for an appetizer and an entree. Plus, there were lamb chops on the menu.
Our entrees arrived: lamb chops for me and FKGuy, salmon for my mom and veal piccata for my dad. The food was outstanding, and all arrived perfectly cooked. Other choices included several pasta dishes and a chicken dish. The food and service (at least through most of the meal) were outstanding.
On the other hand, their standard menu and wine list prices could induce a coronary emergency if you are not adequately prepared. I knew the wine list would be appalling, as they charge $50 per bottle for corkage, but in reality, it is extortion. $85 for a $10 retail bottle of wine? $90 for a $15 or $20 bottle? Sheer madness. The regular menu prices are not much better. Porcini ravioli come in at a steep $50. That is for one plate of admittedly delicious, pasta in a cream sauce.
As we finished our meal, we were brought a complimentary glass of grappa to finish off the meal. It was lovely. It would have been more lovely if we didn’t then have to wait a painfully long time for the check, and another forty-five minutes for someone to come and run the credit card. Nope, I had to walk the check up to the bar myself.
Bottom line: the food at Il Mulino is excellent, and service is – at least to some extent – pretty good. But the prices are just stupid. Would I go back? Not likely. Only if someone else insists (and pays). Frankly, for the price, there are far better dining experiences in Miami.
Il Mulino is in the Aqualina Resort at 17895 Collins Avenue, in Sunny Isles Beach, and is open for lunch and dinner daily.