Thursday, June 6, 2013

Restaurant Week Day 2 -- Mulino's Trattoria

This week I'll be visiting area restaurants for Northampton Restaurant Week and blogging about the experience. Restaurant Week runs until Sunday, June 9, and is a great way to get a 3 course meal at any of the many amazing restaurants in downtown Northampton for only $20-25!*

Restaurant Week, Day 2! The pictures aren't as nice as the ones I took yesterday at Eastside Grill, mostly because there was no natural light to work with and the room had an atmospheric low glow that is great for dining but not so great for photographs. And my Photoshop skills aren't quite there yet, so bear with me on the pictures, please. Anyway, this night was a night out with a bunch of friends, and let me tell you, it is difficult to get 9-13 different people to agree on one restaurant! The majority wanted Mulino's, and while I absolutely adore this place I was kind of hoping we'd go somewhere I had never been before. But out of the places we were considering (Soora, Ibiza, Caminito, Viva) Mulino's had the most attractive menu. So, to Mulino's we went!

Mulino's has long been a date spot favorite of mine. The first time I went there was on a double date with my parents at age 14, when they met my boyfriend for the first time, back when it was a tiny restaurant on a side street. Now it's on Pearl Street and has just been remodeled and has probably tripled in size since that first location. Mulino's holds a special place in my heart for sure. Not only is the food delicious, but it's reasonably priced. The special $10.99 menu is perfect for my budget (with half price early bird specials!), and even the entrees average $15-20, meaning a night at Mulino's is only a splurge if you want it to be. Plus, they've been frequenting specials on Groupon, which means even more great discounts. AND, it's right upstairs from Sierra Grille, which has an excellent wine and beer menu for sipping before/after your meal, and right downstairs from Bishops Lounge, a bar with music and dancing most nights.

We started off by splitting a few bottles of the house wine for the table. For the price, this wine is pretty tasty. I typically prefer white wines, but because I was planning on a red meat entree I went with red. Three of us to a bottle was the perfect number, and allowed a gentle buzz and good accompaniment to the meal. We were ravenous and hoping for bread, but apparently we got there just as the bread was going into the oven, and we didn't get any until our meal. It was good nonetheless, though.

The Restaurant Week appetizers all looked amazing: Grilled Shrimp with Polenta and Garlic compote, Poached Pear Salad, and "Ravioli of the Day" which, lucky us!, was LOBSTER. So, yeah, I was all over that. It was clear that these were stuffed with fresh lobster, the chunks were generous and the "zebra print" was a fun touch. I appreciated that it was not covered in cream sauce, as lobster ravioli often is, and the light veggie-filled sauce made it a great appetizer. I hoovered this pretty quickly.

My roommate got the shrimp and let me nibble some, also delish. I'm not a huge fan of polenta, but I had no complaints, it was creamy and gritty and highlighted the shrimp, garlic, and tomato flavors well.

For entrees the Restaurant Week menu offered Surf & Turf (filet mignon and shrimp in a Bearnaise sauce), Swordfish Diavlo, and Bascailo (a pasta with mushrooms and smoked mozzarella). I got the Surf & Turf, and our table was pretty evenly divided with the rest: a few of the same, some swordfish, and the vegetarians got the pasta. Overall, we were pleased with our dishes, but I was given a well-done steak when I had asked for it medium-rare. I love my steak nice and pink, and am pretty adverse to a well-done steak, so I was a little disappointed at first. I'm pretty sure my friend at the other end of the table and I had been mixed up, since she had asked for well done and her steak looked awfully pink, so we just traded, no harm done. I tried a bite of my roommate's swordfish, and it was delicious and a great balance of creamy and spicy. The accompanying risotto was a little dry and VERY lemony, others at the table said it "tasted almost like dessert." I'm a fan of a nice creamy risotto, so I was happy that my entree had the garlic mashed potatoes instead. The vegetarians enjoyed their pasta, and said the smoked mozzarella was really the star component.

And then what we all were waiting for--dessert! The Restaurant Week menu had the best dessert out of any of the menus we looked at, and was a major reason for us choosing Mulino's: the Godiva chocolate creme brulee. Unfortunately for us, THEY RAN OUT! We were utterly disappointed but in exchange we were allowed to order ANY dessert on the menu, so those who had a chocolate craving were satisfied with a lovely molten chocolate cake. Others got the lemon puff pastry stack that was on the original restaurant week menu, and some got a huge chunk of the Italian favorite, Tiramisu.

I got the cannoli, because it's probably my favorite pastry ever.

Our waitress was sweet and very accommodating. She apologized profusely for the bread situation and the dessert disappointment, and kept our glasses full. I was really happy that the 20% Service Charge was included in the bill--most places only do 15-18% and I feel like for a huge party, the server can get shafted because rarely do people chip in the extra few bucks to get it up to 20%. I remember when I worked at Bertucci's we were NEVER allowed to add gratuity! I once got a $12 tip on a $250 bill for a really difficult party, so it's nice to know that Mulino's takes care of their servers in this way.

Overall, it was a lovely night out with friends. I love Mulino's and obviously will return here often!

Next up for Restaurant Week: Hopefully sneaking in some tapas at Ibiza tonight, and Pizza Paradiso this weekend... maybe one more if I can swing it, who knows!

*FYI: these are NOT sponsored posts! I have received nothing for free, I just LOVE Restaurant Week and wanted to give my favorite foodie spots in Western Mass a little love :)


  1. I love the idea of restaurant week -- I wish somewhere near me did it! Not that I need any encouraging to go out to eat, but I think it'd be a nice way to highlight some locally owned restaurants. In the middle of no where, you mostly have chains :(

    1. I am not too proud to admit I totally take advantage of Olive Garden's 2 for $20 specials when they have them. Or Applebees. Or Chili's. Hehe.

  2. oh wow the food looks so good! i love seeing all that melted cheese on top of the dishes!

  3. Tried and true might not be such a bad thing for restaurant week, because at least you know your money will be spent on something tasty! Love those zebra print ravioli appetizers!