Thursday, March 10, 2011

Il Mulino Cucina Italiana in Fort Lauderdale - a steam-powered downhill slide

Il Mulino Cucina Italiana
1800 E. Sunrise Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Daily – Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 4 pm.
Dinner 4-11 p.m.

By Jane Feehan

Italian restaurants abound in Fort Lauderdale.  With stiff competition, most of them should be good. The popular Il Mulino Cucina Italiana disappointed recently.

I’ve enjoyed many meals here since it opened years ago but noticed a big slide on my last visit. First, no one was there to seat me when I arrived a little after 5 p.m.; I had to walk into the rear toward the kitchen to find a server, though there were plenty of seated patrons.  It was downhill from there.

After I was seated, a staffer decided to replenish wine racks in the dining room. He noisily hoisted a box of bottles onto a booth table, then climbed the seat and began stocking a few feet from my table.  Couldn’t he do this at 3 or 4 p.m. before dinner customers started to arrive?

Then the main course came less than two or three minutes after a drink, rolls (terrific garlicky creations) and a salad were delivered. Bad timing. I ordered Penne Trapanese ($13.95), a mix of pasta, asparagus and chicken in marinara sauce. Enough steam was lifting from it to power an engine. The pasta wasn’t rinsed with cool water, a basic in preparation, so it kept cooking while sitting. Pasta mush.  The “marinara” was more like a brown hoisin sauce served in a Chinese restaurant. Nothing tomato about it. I was ready to return the plate when I saw another steam cloud rising from a bowl of spaghetti, forcing the man who ordered it to leap aside. He paid his bill and left within minutes. Someone in the kitchen didn’t know how to cook - no sense in returning a dish to the void.

They claim pasta is house made. I doubt it. Who would go to the trouble and then not know how to cook it? No quality control on a Wednesday night in high season doesn't bode well for other days, other months. Let’s hope they do a better job with pizza. 

Service: Too fast is worse than too slow. Free parking in the rear of the building.

For real Italian cooking, see Food Network's Gaida De Laurentis

Tags: Fort Lauderdale restaurants, Italian restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale pizza places, dining in Fort Lauderdale

No comments: