Upscale Italian restaurant group Il Mulino recently added a steakhouse to their roster in Il Mulino Prime, which opened in SoHo earlier this month at the corner of West Broadway and Grand Street. It's a smallish space, though the white walls and large windows lend it an airy feeling, especially when a breeze comes through from the street. The monotone aesthetic—punctuated by ceramic "taxidermy" and poetic musings stenciled on the walls—gives the restaurant that "cool" vibe. To wit, no less than four notable persons were spotted dining on the evening of a recent press preview.
It's a scene for sure, but the food backs up the hype and a desirable dinner can certainly be scored here. Meals begin with a gratis plate of salumi, cheese and crispy cheese bread, all of which are tasty ways to bulk up before the main course. The dry aged steaks are a source of particular pride for the enormous staff (seriously, the place is swarming with white-shirted waiters), especially the dainty but succulent 12 Ounce Bone-In Filet ($52), served with a house sauce flecked with whole peppercorns.
The Fusilli Lobster Mac & Cheese ($32) was also touted as a top choice by the waiter and mostly lived up to expectations, though the portion size is quite hefty, especially with all the carbs and cheese that came before. The lobster flavor shines through the richness, however; Chef Michele Mazza recounted to us his method of using lobster shells and cognac to bulk up the velvety cheese sauce. The large chunks of lobster were tender, by and large, though some of their natural sweetness was masked by all the dairy.
All in all, the solid food and accommodating staff can make for an enjoyable meal but prices are solidly in Special Occasion territory unless you're flashing a black Amex expense account. But the people watching can't be beat, which calls for a glass of Italian wine at the bar—accompanied by a big plate of spicy, garlicky Calamari ($18)—as a more budget-friendly option to get your swag on.
311 West Broadway, 212-226-0020; website