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Let’s Kick a Dead Horse: Il Mulino in Dallas

Some of the comments under yesterday’s comments post about Leslie Brenner’s picks for Best French Restaurants went a little east of France. Like to Italy. At one point I wrote:

“It took you a year of eating red-sauce Italian food and steak au poivre to come to the conclusion that the majority of Dallas diners do not have adventurous palates. (R.I.P Il Mulino)”

The line caused several commenters  to steer off topic and question the quality/authenticity of IL Mulino. I used IL Mulino as an example of a restaurant that failed here because Dallas diners refused to accept the, for Dallas, adventurous menu. “Authentic” Italian or not, whatever that is around here, is not the issue. Whatever Il Mulino was—gasp, modern Italian?! New York Mob Italian?! French Italian?!—it was, in my opinion, a good restaurant. Why? Because, without going back to my notes or reviews, I can clearly remember (and taste) the food I ate—the ravioli in champagne sauce, the Dover sole, the complimentary appetizers.  Strong taste memories are hard to come by when you eat food for a living.

Il Mulino was expensive—Dallas doesn’t like to pay for high prices for Italian unless they are in New York or Los Angeles or Italy. However, they don’ t blink at forking over $50 for an 8-ounce filet of beef. It’s a reality of  how the majority of palates and pocketbooks in this city roll.

On another note, I don’t like using the term “authentic” to describe food from another country. For the sake of argument, an Italian recipe can be authentic but unless all of the ingredients are sourced in Italy, the resulting dish is not truly authentic. Chew on that one. And spit it out below.

18 comments on “Let’s Kick a Dead Horse: Il Mulino in Dallas

  1. I loved Il Mulino. I can still remember the wheel of Parmesan where they’d cut huge chunks for you at your table. I still remember the assortment of salumi they’d give, gratis, before salumi was a common word around here. I still remember the flawless piece of halibut I had. I remember the fantastic service.

  2. NN, if you went to a resto in America, owned by Italians, where all the cooks were Italian, where all the waiters were Italian, and the food and wine all Italian, then how in the Wide, Wide, World of Sports would you not think that was “authentic?”

    BTW, I’m not referring to Il Mullino.

  3. because authentic, to me, is the real deal. If you eat a meal in Italy with products grown in Italian soil, you will never be able to make it taste the same here in Dallas. I would call such a place “traditional.”

  4. So by your definition the only place where a meal would be “authentic” is the place that has no need for that word.

  5. I seem to remember that, in your pre-Pinkberry life, you wrote the definitive portrait of whazizname, who opened Il Mulino in Dallas, and I remember thinking as I read it what an excellent investigative piece it was.

  6. Nancy I agree with you, no matter how hard you try and replicate a dish from another country, it somehow just doesn’t taste the same as when you have it over there.

    BTW the picture you have is upside down, might want to rotate it. FYI

  7. Worzel, you old softie. There is a link to that story above. Phil Romano sued Dotty Griffith basically for saying a sauce had butter. Good thing Romano doesn’t have a French restaurant.

  8. Il Mulino was an amazing experience. I’m sad that it AND Salve closed. At least we still have Sharon around though!

  9. Scagnetti, that’s why champagne can only be called that if it were produced within the Champagne region of France.

  10. As far as ‘authentic’ Italian food in Dallas is concerned, Only Nonna comes to mind. Their food is the closest that resembles the food I’ve eaten in Italy.

  11. Il Mulino in NYC has always been considered a generally crap restaurant. Why did all of Dallas think the import, brought to us by one of the grand schlock-pitchers of all time, was any different? Pretense is not substance.

  12. “Fred,” obviously Dallas is just stupid! The city also fell for Eatzi’s, another grand deception. Whereas, what you are doing – attacking people who have ideas and the ambition to try to bring something to Dallas – is “substance.” Keep up the good work, we need more people like you.

  13. @ Froghorn. I think what Gary is trying to say is that Dallas did eventually see through the pretence of Il Mulino..People stopped going there. If a restaurant is going to make it in Dallas, it needs widespread appeal. $150 for a couple of glasses of wine and a split entree (at the bat no less) gave the place a death sentence early on. That is about authentically Italian as Olive Garden.

  14. Food from any country can be made here in the USA. You just have know the tricks, Cooking is a craft !! Its that simple. Bill Molloy.