Trattoria Il Mulino
144 5th Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee 37203
Confession: After spending a few weeks in Italy this summer, I quickly adapted to their way of life, especially the food. What am I saying? It practically turned me into a food snob. Fresh ingredients were abundant. Pasta, vegetables, and meats. Practically anything you needed for an authentic Italian meal right at your fingertips. Since my return to Nashville, I have struggled to find Italian food that can compete with the cuisine of Tuscany, Rome or Modena. I was recently introduced to Trattoria Il Mulino located in Nashville, Tennessee. While this trattoria isn’t located on a cobblestone street and it doesn’t have a view of the Pantheon, it has some killer Italian food.
As you enter the restaurant, it’s hard not to notice the wine wall located near the kitchen. Trattoria Il Mulino has an extensive wine program and an amazing sommelier that can answer any question you can throw at him (even those non-wine related).
To tease our palate, Chef Eugene created a lovely amuse bouche comprised of eggplant tomatoes, shallots, parmesan cheese and olive oil served with slices of salami. The Chef did an excellent job pairing the mild flavors of the eggplant and tomatoes with the spiciness and saltiness of the salami. Normally, I would have expected this dish to be prepared with a crostini but the salami was the perfect vehicle.
While we sipped on our wine and relished our last bites, we were presented with a bread service. These were not pale, flavorless breadsticks, y’all. Homemade sourdough, fresh focaccia with peppers and tomatoes and garlic parmesan breadsticks were the offered for our meal. All of which were made in house. Good luck trying to steer clear of carbs at this restaurant. TO. DIE. FOR. Without a doubt, you must try one of each of these when you visit. The bread service truly set the tone for the upcoming dishes.
Exercising my willpower, I did my absolute best to save a few bites of the delicious focaccia for the Salumi & Formaggi board. Accompanying the prosciutto and soppressata was arugula, roasted red peppers, olives, and honeycomb. As if that weren’t enough to make your mouth water, the Chef carefully paired pistachio crusted goat cheese, Red Dragon cheese, and an aged cheddar on the plate. On the quest for the perfect bite, I combined the prosciutto with the honeycomb and roasted red pepper and the flavors exploded! The perfect combination of sweet and salty. I did, however, find a new favorite cheese that I will be serving in the future: Red Dragon. Have you ever heard of it? Delish! Red Dragon is a type of Cheddar cheese blended with mustard seed and ale. The Sommelier let us in on a little tip: spread the cheese over a bit of sourdough bread and drizzle a bit of honey on top- seriously mind-blowing! Without a doubt, the bread tray made its appearance at our table on multiple occasions that evening.
One of my favorite items to try at restaurants is the octopus. It’s such a tricky thing to cook at home as you have to be quite careful and skilled to make sure the consistency isn’t too rubbery or tough. (The main reason I have yet to cook it in my kitchen.) Imagine my delight when Grilled Octopus was one of the dishes Chef Eugene sent to our table. The Grilled Octopus was served with olives, capers, jewel box tomatoes, and fingerling potatoes. That lovely golden sauce is a combination of white wine, butter, and parsley. The consistency of the octopus was flawless and the sauce was the perfect compliment. Without a doubt, the grilled octopus was my favorite dish of the meal.
When I thought that things couldn’t get any tastier, Porcini Ravioli made their way to our table. Stuffed with porcini mushrooms and topped with champagne truffle cream sauce, each piece had a delicate black truffle shaving on top. This was one of the most decadent dishes of the evening. Pastas are handmade daily using as many local ingredients as possible. The kitchen is very flexible and can accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions.
Trattoria Il Mulino has an assortment of pizza offerings and once you see the menu, you will realize what a predicament I was faced with. One?! I thought to myself? Really, I have to choose just one? (As if the waistband of my jeans weren’t tight enough at this point.) What happens when you want all of the pizzas on the menu? Chef Eugene worked his magic and gave me the best of both worlds.
Pizza Four Ways: (not currently listed on their menu)
Verde (bottom): Mozzarella, Arugula topped with Prosciutto
Meatball (left): Ricotta cheese, Meatballs (sliced ever so thin) on a rich tomato sauce
Primavera (top): Mozzarella cheese topped with season vegetables, red and yellow bell peppers
Sausage (right): Olive Oil/White Sauce topped with sausage and broccoli rabe
While I enjoyed trying each of these, the standout was the Primavera. Fresh crunchy peppers topped with the freshest mozzarella and served with a light white sauce. Scrumptious!
Now that the Nashville Predators are back on the ice, Trattoria Il Mulino has kicked off their game night special. Stop by and grab a drink or two and order one of these fantastic pizzas before heading across the street to the Bridgestone!
Seriously, the food coma had set in. Gang, this was almost as bad as the Thanksgiving turkey coma I was in last week! I knew I had to rally because Chef Eugene mentioned that desserts were forthcoming. Placed before me were three hand selected desserts off the menu. I knew I was in trouble because I have a weakness for both chocolate and cheesecake.
Dessert Trio: Pictured from Left to Right: Limoncello Tiramisu, Bianco e Nero, and Italian Cheesecake.
Let’s start with the signature dessert, Limoncello Tiramisu. Holy Cannoli! The lady fingers are drenched in Limoncello and layered between fluffy mascarpone clouds. This will make all your tiramisu dreams come true. The Bianco e Nero can cause quite the addiction. Layered between pistachio gelato and Vanilla chocolate chunk ice cream lies this amazing house made caramel sauce with bits of biscotti sprinkled strategically throughout. Last, but not least, Italian cheesecake. This was not your typical dense cheesecake that you often find at restaurants but light and airy, which means it’s not overly filling. The best part- the Luxardo cherry. Pair that with a forkful of cheesecake- Forkyeah!
If you are looking for a great place to dine in downtown Nashville and crave something other than the typical Southern fare, pop into Trattoria Il Mulino and have a bite. You will leave with a smile on your face.