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Canada Free Press Restaurant Guide

Il Mulino Ristorante

Toronto's hidden gem

Il Mulino
Sommelier Zoltan Szabo

Il Mulino Ristorante

1060 Eglinton Ave. East
(416) 780-1173
(416) 780-1163
Monday - Sunday
5 p.m. - 11 p.m.

by Pamela Bloom

There’s a hidden gem on Eglington West. It’s easy to miss from outside, but inside it is impossible to forget. It’s a place where the chefs are passionate about preparing true Italian food, where the Sommelier is earnest in his belief that all food tastes better with the appropriate wine, and where even a rainy Wednesday night sees it full of loyal customers. This place is called Il Mulino Ristorante.

Il Mulino opened one and a half years ago under the expertise of Michael Pagliaro, previous owner of Cabbagetowns Barolo, formerly one of Toronto’s best restaurants. For those of you that thought he retired after selling Barolo, you can rejoice in the knowledge that he’s back and better than ever.

Il Mulino also employs a certified Sommelier, Zoltan Szabo, whose love of wine is surpassed only by his devotion to making your dining experience at Il Mulino a truly unique and extraordinary experience.

It’s not just the food and service that makes Il Mulino so special, it’s their desire to ensure that everyone who dines there will learn about the background of each dish and accompanying wine, and why certain foods and drinks compliment each other so beautifully.

Il Mulino even offers food and wine matching nights, "a unique dining experience that takes you on a tour from Sicilia to Piemonte." For just $75, you can embark on " a culinary extravaganza--a gastronomic tour of Italy," as they serve you 4-5 dishes from various Italian regions, accompanied by the appropriate wine for each dish. This is also a wonderful opportunity to learn about the process and background of each dish, and why they taste better with certain wines.

They also host corporate culinary cooking and wine tasting events, where you and your co-workers can unwind by cooking a meal under the tutelage of chefs Alan Hilario and Davide Del Brocco, and then sit back and relax to eat and drink. I hope someone tells my boss about this!

For those of us who love wine and want to learn more about it, Il Mulino also offers tutored wine tasting events, where they will take you through the steps of tasting and choosing wine. They also plan on expanding into catering.

I recently went to Il Mulino’s for dinner with my cousin, Elisa. We started with an Antipasto platter of Insalata Di Funghi (grilled wild mushrooms), Mozzarella & Pomodori (fresh Bufala mozzarella with vine ripened tomatoes), Calamari Grillia (grilled calamari), Grilled Shrimps, and Octopus Carpaccio.

I was a little wary of eating Octopus, but I’m glad that I overcame my fear and tried it. It was thinly sliced, delicate and tender. The shrimps were juicy and plump, and the Bufala cheese was very fresh and creamy.

We had a lovely Santa Barbara Chardonnay with our antipasto. It was a nutty, with just a hint of olive, and the kind of Chardonnay whose flavour improves as it sits. We also had a Ruggeri Prosecco di Valdobbiadene. It was interesting to taste the antipastos with different wines, as each drink brought out different flavors.

Elisa and I then had the Mushroom Risotto and Gnocchi. The risotto was made with truffle oil, and served with fresh, shaved Parmesan cheese. The gnocchi was served in a thick cream sauce with Pesto and Gorgonzola. Both appetizers were very filling, with dramatically different flavours. The Victoria Street California Merlot that we had with these dishes had a lovely tang that balanced out the heaviness of these appetizers.

We then moved on to the main course, Sicilian White Snapper. It was lightly grilled, and served "au natural," with just a touch of extra virgin olive oil, wine, and parsley. The fish was very tender and savoury, and it was served with steamed vegetables and delicately spiced potatoes.

Elisa and I were both under the impression that fish should always served with white wine, but Zoltan impressed upon us that was not necessarily true. We had some Nero d’Avola with our meal, and I can honestly say that fish tastes even better with red wine.

For dessert, Elisa and I shared the Chocolate Volcano, a torte like brownie filled with a hot fudge center, and topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel, made by pastry chef Alfredo Pali. It was guilty pleasure, made even guiltier by the sweet dessert wine that we had with it. It was a California Orange Muscat Essensia, and the orange flavor went perfectly with the chocolate.

Il Mulino is a remarkable treasure. It will not only please your palate, but it is bound to please your soul as well.

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