Uptown Is The New Downtown: Il Mulino’s Executive Chef Michele Mazza

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 I have people that come in almost every day. I make sure that I come out of the kitchen every night and talk to diners.

There’s no longer a need to trek to the West Village for a plate of Il Mulino’s famed porcini truffle mushroom ravioli. Upper East Siders now have a location all their own, featuring a revamped menu of classic favorites, plus gluten-free and vegan options specifically designed for the uptown crowd.

With bright lighting, a dark-stained bar and crisp white walls dotted with vintage black-and-white photos, the new location has a more contemporary vibe than its downtown predecessor. Local celebrities including Woody Allen, Jon Bon Jovi, Martha Stewart, Piers Morgan and Ivana Trump rub elbows with Wall Street power players in the intimate dining room that seats just 85.

Executive chef Michele Mazza tells Haute Living about his disciplined cooking style, his favorite ingredient to work with and his strategy for pleasing finicky clients.


How did your culinary career begin?
I grew up in Italy, near the Naples area. After culinary school, I started working for an Italian cruise line. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun. I started working for Il Mulino in 2003.

What is the most popular dish served at the restaurant?
The most popular dish is the homemade ravioli with black truffles and creamy champagne sauce. It’s amazing. My goal is to make sure that all 12 locations prepare it the same way.

Do you enjoy cooking with a specific ingredient?
Truffles. Black truffles are in season right now and we have a wonderful dish on the menu that is made with pasta, olive oil, fresh tomato, chunks of lobster and finished with black truffles.

Describe your cooking style.
I don’t listen to music. I don’t like too much talk in the kitchen. I just concentrate on the food. I’m very focused.

Do you get a lot of restaurant regulars?
I have people that come in almost every day. I make sure that I come out of the kitchen every night and talk to diners.

How you do handle picky guests?
We are very flexible and that’s the way I train chefs at each location. We are here to please the customer. We do a lot of gluten-free and vegan dishes. I make these vegan meatballs with eggplants that are very good.

What separates Il Mulino from other fine dining establishments in NYC?
I strongly believe that the food is just as important as the service. To me, the service is very important. From the moment customers walk through the door and sit down at the table, we make them feel welcome.

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