Mulinaccio has been an institution in Hangzhou since they opened up next to West Lake a few years ago; now they have a new bistro-style restaurant near Xixi Wetlands! At the northeast corner of the Xixi No. 1 Business Center across from the soon-to-be-open Xihu Cultural and Sports Center north of Xixi, the Mulinaccio bistro has two floors with big, bright windows and outdoor seating in the middle of a bustling business development zone; a breezier, casual alternative to Mulinaccio West Lake’s more formal fine dining experience.
We got started with some pizza. Italian chef Francesco Losacco is the Pizza Guy at the original Mulinaccio, and they have expertly exported his Napoli style and crust to their Xixi bistro. Ours was the Smoked Ham and Mushroom Pizza (58RMB) and was delightful. I don’t want to name names so I’ll just say: this rivals Certain Other Pizzas Made By An Italian Guy In Hangzhou, which is very high praise. This is a great, simple pizza with a flawless topping game—particularly the sauce—and a perfect crust.
Salad: those of you who know me know that my non-working diet consists of salad for every meal; those of you who don’t know me *also* now know that I eat salad all the time. Trust me when I say that Mulinaccio’s Spinach Salad with Shrimp and Tuna (38RMB) is a Very Good Salad. It had been a while since I’d enjoyed *any* dish featuring spinach—it’s just not something one sees often in Hangzhou, by no means is it something I avoid—the fish/shrimp combo sounded a little challenging as a salad protein, but I gave it a try and I’m glad I did. It’s not at all overly fishy in flavor, and rather was more defined by a light vinaigrette. The tuna and shrimp with the spongy plumpness of the spinach made for a meaty, filling salad, with sliced almonds rather than a stiff lettuce or cabbage providing a subtle crunch. Try this!
The main meat dishes: Roast Pork Rib with Barbecue Sauce (98RMB), and Roast Spring Chicken (58RMB/half, 98RMB/whole). The ribs were great, a big serving with tender meat easily falling off the bone; the chicken was phenomenal, with crispy skin and every square centimeter of the bird infused with rosemary.
Finally, I ordered two pastas, Risotto with Mushroom, Sunny Side Up Egg (38RMB) and the Carbonara (36RMB) both were excellent. The risotto was perfect, with the yolk compounding its natural smoothness. The Carbonara is a litmus test for me, to see if a restaurant knows what it’s doing. Many people assume a carbonara’s creaminess comes from actual cream; it doesn’t. A sprinkling of hard cheese adds to the saltiness, but the sauce comes from egg and the oils cooked out of the meat. Mulinaccio gets it right.
We finished this immensely satisfying meal with espressos, a creme brûlée (24RMB) and Tiramisu (25RMB). The tiramisu was exactly as it should be, the creme brûlée was a reminder of the benefits of a coffee shop with a full kitchen; a dessert a cut above the standard refrigerator faire one would find at a normal coffee shop.
In style and substance, the new location is its own unique beast, with a menu and experience more closely aligned with the downstairs baristas than at West Lake, but they’ve retained important chunks of the original Mulinaccio’s DNA. This is a welcome addition to Hangzhou’s west side.