New food critic review: Il Mulino

Hello everyone: Once in a while, my dining experience is one which reaffirms my obsession with high quality food prepared in a simple manner. “Fine dining” is a phrase which is ubiquitous in the foodie world, but on a rare occasion I find a restaurant which truly embodies this concept. My most recent adventure in fine dining began while planning a day trip to Atlantic City with a good friend who also enjoys great food. I started planning by browsing the Zagat’s website which ranks restaurants in terms of food, decor, service, and price. I found a few nice restaurants in the area but nothing that especially called to me. It was supposed to rain that day so I decided to look for a restaurant located either in the hotel where we were supposed to be dropped off or in the hotel immediately next door. According to my research, the bus from New York City arrives at Resorts hotel, which is next to the Trump Taj Mahal. My friend suggested that I should look for a restaurant in the Trump Taj Mahal, and considering what happened I must give her a great deal of credit. Jackpot! (No pun intended, well maybe a little.) I found a restaurant called Il Mulino whose rating for food in the Zagat guide is 27 out of 30 (a great deal higher than Olive Garden). I think I previously overlooked this restaurant for two reasons: First, it seemed to be somewhat expensive; considering that I am still waiting to take my LMSW licensure test in social work after which I will seek employment, I wasn’t sure if I could afford Il Mulino’s price tag. (Of course you never know how the slot machines will treat you, things worked out fairly well for me in the end, thank you Wheel of Fortune). I also disregarded Il Mulino because I recognized the name from New York City where the original is located. (It turns out that it is extremely difficult to make a reservation at the original and the prices are even higher.) Now that you understand the background of this story, please allow me to describe the dining experience:
Il Mulino
Trump Taj Mahal
Atlantic City, NJ
4.75 stars out of 5 stars
There is a vast difference when you enter Il Mulino as compared to the casino which I had just left: a hushed ambiance, tasteful decor, and some of the best service I have ever experienced from the first moment on. As soon as I sat down at the table, an extremely courteous waiter brought over tasting portions of several appetizers: spicy fried zucchini, prosciutto, bruschetta, and my favorite: the most flavorful Parmesan cheese I have ever tasted! (It was aged for 2 years and imported from Italy, I have been slightly obsessed with Parmesan cheese ever since, don’t judge me!) I was astounded to discover the variety of exquisite flavors in each dish; however, I decided to prioritize and ask for some more of the outstanding Parmesan cheese. In response, the waiter brought out a huge chunk of cheese, about the size of a quarter of a wheel which was extremely tall. He claimed that the original wheel weighed 20 pounds, I’m not sure about the accuracy of this claim but it sounded excellent to me anyway. He proceeded to cut me a few slices from the enormous wheel and this was a highlight of the experience for me. The bread basket was also unique; one item which I enjoyed was a focaccia bread cooked into the consistency of a crisp cracker with the scent of rosemary and a hint of tomato. After listening to an extensive list of specials, my friend and I decided to split the appetizer of shrimp oregonata and I ordered chicken scarpariello.
All of the food turned out to be exquisite. The shrimp oregonata consisted of three Jumbo shrimp, and I truly mean jumbo, covered in bread crumbs and oregano, baked with a lemon and white wine sauce. Besides being huge, the shrimp were very fresh as if they had just been caught that day. The crisp bread crumb topping perfectly complimented the citrus flavor of the sauce with a subtle flavor from the wine and the overall mild spice from the oregano. My entree of chicken scarpariello turned out to be a masterpiece: pieces of boneless chicken cooked with lemon, white wine, and garlic. I have ordered this dish in several other Italian restaurants before with varying results, but on this occasion it was one of the best I have ever tasted. I attribute Il Mulino’s success with this dish to the tenderness of the chicken and the superior combination of flavors in the sauce. Both dark meat and light meat chicken are cooked together which results in two effects: I could distinguish the taste of each type of chicken as I devoured my entree, and their flavors were merged instead of a focus on only one half of the chicken. As I mentioned, there is nothing artsy about Il Mulino which is why I enjoyed my meal so much, all of the ingredients are of the highest quality but not pretentious. We split Tiramisu for dessert which was, not surprisingly, excellent. I only started to like this dessert two years ago when my friend and I ordered it more often in restaurants for some unexplained reason. For your information, (and mine):
Tiramisu literally “pick me up” is a popular Italian dessert. It is made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone, and flavored with liquor and cocoa. (Thanks Google!) Il Mulino’s tiramisu definitely contained some type of cake, a strong but pleasant flavor of coffee, and perhaps a subtle hint of liquor.
No matter how they created it, I was very impressed. Read More