Magical Dining Month just wrapped up here in Orlando. How many restaurants did you get around to visiting? Since we stayed at the Swan on the first night of the month, timing was perfect to try Il Mulino New York Trattoria.
Il Mulino is a beautiful establishment. Guests enter at a cozy bar and lounge area. The bar is well stocked with diverse selections, and the bartenders are exceptionally efficient. Live musicians await the dinner crowd, taking requests of all genres. Although I was a bit disgruntled over being issued a lengthy wait after arriving a few minutes early for a reservation, I appreciated the opportunity to spend some time in the bar.
The layout and design of Il Mulino is very nice. It’s much more spacious than the average Disney eatery. I’ve often complained about the lack of breathing room at Disney restaurants, and this was such a nice change. When we were initially seated, staff was very attentive, and we were assigned two very courteous servers. We promptly mentioned that we were interested in the Magical Dining menu. For those who are not yet familiar with Magical Dining, it offers guests an appetizer, entree, and dessert for $33 from a limited list of menu items, so essentially – it is a discount dining plan. It is considered a value plan, allowing people the chance to check out some of the area’s finest restaurants in an affordable way. I did not expect our service to dramatically plummet upon mention of Magical Dining, however. All of a sudden, our two servers decreased to one, and he rarely showed his face.
Aside from the service, the food left a lot to be desired. Perhaps I’m spoiled by marrying into a very Italian family, but I know good Italian. Personally, I believe that this is the one type of cuisine that no one on Disney property can conquer, and Il Mulino was no exception. The meatball appetizer was fantastic. I only wish that a second round of meatballs could have served as an entree! We tried two different pasta entrees – one with a red sauce, and one with white. Frankly, these are the types of dishes that are fairly difficult to get wrong, but both were very bland. The red sauce was virtually non-existent, and the pasta itself was rubbery. Overall, the food was just not fresh, and it completely lacked the flavorful pizzazz that Italian cuisine is known for. We didn’t even make it through half of the dishes before we just couldn’t stomach any more. We selected tiramisu for dessert, and both of us were anxiously anticipating a sweet ending to a less-than-impressive meal. While the serving size was notably generous, the taste was immeasurably disappointing. I’m not a fan of coffee, but I appreciate the hint of coffee flavoring in tiramisu. There was no hint to this one… it was much like shoveling a load of raw coffee beans onto my taste buds. If it wasn’t for that overwhelming coffee flavor, this would have probably been good enough to eclipse the previous let-downs. I did my best to eat around the layer of coffee, and what I managed to eat was very good.
As someone who was thrilled to try out Il Mulino, I was expecting so much more – in both service, and food quality. Much like the Swan itself, it seemed that they want to carry a high-end price tag without offering an equivalent return on service or product value. I can accept lesser quality, but not when a business wants to put forth the air of being better, or more valuable.