Il Mito East and is located in the former Osteria del Mondo at the Knickerbocker Hotel. The bar is as inviting as ever and now sports black slate floors. The dining room takes advantage of arched windows and alcoves with a countrified rustic Italian theme. Crystal chandeliers of glass bubbles add a bit of dazzle. The menu has much of the look and feel of the one in Wauwatosa but there are differences. This one offers more small plates and, such as the insalata mista ($5.95), others have minor variations.
Where to start? Perhaps with zuppa d’aglio e porro ($3.95) made with roasted garlic and leeks with a few potato croutons. Potato croutons? That is what makes this soup gluten free along with many other items on the menu. Soups remain a strong point in Feker’s kitchens. Then maybe insalata di barbabietola ($6.95) with a bed of roasted Brussels sprouts and a bit of cauliflower topped with a gently pickled red cabbage salad and shaved asiago cheese. All of the ingredients make their presence known. The roasted Brussels sprouts add an especially good flavor, the roasting process removing any traces of bitterness.
It’s entirely possible to compose a delightful meal from the “piatti piccoli” (small plates). Some are very simple. Croccanti verdure di stagione ($5.95) are flash-fried seasonal vegetables—currently cauliflower, potato and ultra-thin baby asparagus—served with sun-dried tomato aioli. Torta di risotto ($5.95) is a roasted risotto cake with vegetables topped with a bit of grated cheese, and accompanied by baby greens in a delicate vinaigrette much like the insalata mista. It is vegetarian as well as gluten free. A bit meatier is filetto di manzo su risotto curcuma ($6.96), pieces of grilled angus tenderloin served over a grilled tomato and turmeric risotto. The meat is ultra tender—a delight.
For a lighter meal, consider one of the pizzas. The carne ($11.95) tops a blend of three cheeses with thin slices of pepperoni, salami and prosciutto and is garnished with a salad of fresh tomato with thin slices of red onion. The thin crust shows grill marks. The prosciutto has the distinctive flavor of the imported kind. The pizzas are some of the very best to be found in this area.
Entrées are divided between “primi” and “secondi,” the former are pastas and the latter, meat dishes. Fettuccine alla bolognese ($13.95) is a family recipe prepared with a lusty ragu with tomato and three meats. This is not just another hamburger with tomato sauce concoction. A daily special, capellini with sea scallops ($14.95), features small but plentiful scallops in a delicate sauce with caresses of garlic. On the meaty side is cremagliera di vitello ($21.95), a free-grazed and hormone-free rack of veal served over risotto and sautéed spinach.
The service is caring and attentive. The wine list is modest, but sufficient. Il Mito East is a great replacement for the sorely missed Osteria del Mondo. But where are the customers? At all visits, only a few tables were occupied. This place should be hopping even on a Thursday night. Il Mito East clearly deserves a larger audience.
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